July 7, 2013

Fortnight for Freedom. Many thanks to all of you who took part in some way in our 2 weeks of prayer, sacrifice and action for Religious Liberty. Special thanks to all who came out to the daily Holy Hours, in particular to Bob and Gerri Laird who helped coordinate and promote them. Although the Fortnight is over, the battle is not done. So, each in your own way, commit yourself to continue to fight for Religious Liberty—and the protection of Life and Marriage..

Investiture with the Brown Scapular Next Weekend. Tuesday, July 16, is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For almost 8 centuries Catholics have been showing their devotion to our Lady and placing themselves under her protection by wearing the Brown Scapular and being enrolled in the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. For those who wish to be likewise enrolled in the Confraternity and invested with the Brown Scapular I will do so in brief ceremonies next weekend: after the 9am Mass on Saturday, July 13, and after both the 8:45 and 10:30 Mass on Sunday, July 14. There is no sign up, and no specific preparation required. You may bring your own Scapular or receive one provided by the parish.

Fourth of July. As we come to the end of this week/weekend of celebrating our Nation’s birth, I offer some quotations from the Father of our Country to remind us all of the essential role that religion (particularly “our blessed religion,” Christianity) and faith in and obedience to God have played in making America the great nation it has been for over 2 centuries:

Circular Letter Addressed to the Governors of all the States on the Disbanding of the Army, June 14, 1783 (excerpt)

I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for brethren who have served in the field; and finally that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.

George Washington’s First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789 (excerpt)

…[I]t would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States.

Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage.

These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence…

…Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people…

I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favor the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

George Washington’s Farewell Address, September 17, 1796 (excerpt)

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Oremus pro invicem, et pro patria. Fr. De Celles

June 30, 2013

Marriage and the Supreme Court. As I write this on Wednesday (due to bulletin deadlines) news of the Supreme Court of the United States’ (“SCOTUS”) 5-4 decision on “gay marriage” is being announced. Although there is still much to digest in this ruling, it seems clear that it is a split decision: SCOTUS has partially struck down and partially left intact the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). Specifically, it has struck down the requirement that the federal government recognize only traditional male-female marriage in applying federal law, finding that the federal government is bound to abide by the definition of marriage as determined by the particular states. This means that the federal tax dollars paid by citizens of the 38 states that reject “gay marriage” will go to support the “gay marriages” from the 12 states that allow them. For example, your tax dollars will go to pay Social Security and military survivor’s benefits to “gay surviving spouses.”

It is important to note that the court stopped short of finding a federal constitutional right to “gay marriage,” so that it left intact that part of DOMA that allows the states to not be bound by other states’ laws allowing “gay marriages.” I suppose we should be grateful that SCOTUS restrained itself in this way, but this restraint seems to indicate only a temporary reprieve. Consider that Justice Kennedy, who wrote the opinion and was the swing vote, wrote that:

“…no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom [a particular state], by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity… treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others….”

This seems to say that the constitution prohibits the federal government from respecting “gay marriage” less than traditional (male-female) marriage, and that to do so unconstitutionally “injures” “gays.” While it wraps itself in a “states’ rights” argument, it strikes me that this type of logic sets the stage for lower federal courts to soon discover a right to “gay marriage” in the constitution.

[In a related case SCOTUS passed the buck on the California “Proposition 8” case. Based on a technicality it said it could not rule on the case itself and so left intact the U.S. District Court’s decision that rejected the California’s voter’s decision to ban “gay marriage.” Recall that the government of the State of California had decided not to appeal the District Court’s ruling. SCOTUS ruled that the citizens’ organization that had attempted to appeal the case lacked “standing” to appeal. The net effect is that in spite of the voters’ decision, “gay marriage” is permitted in California.]

It seems we’re fighting a rear guard action as we’re slowly being beaten back from the battle. But we must keep fighting the good fight, and praying for Divine intervention. Remember, the George Washington’s army waged war for years against an overwhelmingly superior force, sustaining multiple defeats and causalities with only a handful of victories, and suffered catastrophic mutinies and desertions. But in the end, by God’s providence, we prevailed.

Fortnight for Freedom. All this, of course, takes place during the Church’s “fortnight for freedom”—two weeks of prayer, sacrifice and action to defend our religious liberty. The issue of “gay marriage” is part of this struggle, especially as SCOTUS argues that to stand against “gay marriage” is “to disparage and injure” “gay” people. Even now faithful Catholics are viciously attacked by many in the “mainstream” of American life, calling us “hateful” and “intolerant” because our stand in support of traditional/natural marriage. How long before the courts or legislatures agree, and enshrine this and other rising examples of anti-Catholicism in our laws ?

Anti-Catholicism has always been around in America, but it’s been on a steady rise for the last 5 decades, and especially in last five years as Catholic values that had once been part of our truly common American values have been thrown aside, and their moral opposites installed by our government as now “sacred.”

This anti-Catholicism came to a head in January of last year as our President and his Secretary of Health and Human Services issued regulations (as part of Obamacare) that would force Catholic business owners, charitable organizations, schools, colleges and even, in many cases, the Catholic Church itself, to provide all their employees with health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

But don’t be misled: this is not about political parties. In my homily last Sunday (available on our website) I went into detail discussing how in 1875 the Republican Party, controlling most of the federal government, tried to force Catholics to attend government-run public schools, where they could be indoctrinated with Protestant values and teachings. The party that was founded just 20 years earlier principally to fight the oppression of people of different races (slavery), went on to promote the oppression of people of different religions, i.e., Catholics.

Now, in 2012, the Democrat Party, controlling most of the federal government, is trying to force secular humanist values on Catholics. The party that not so long ago was the main party of faithful Catholics and which has lately been a champion of equal rights for all races, has now has become the champion of the oppression of faithful Catholics. But make no mistake—all too many Republics join them in this anti-Catholicism.

Through all this we find our would-be oppressors wrapping themselves in the flag, and calling for “unity.” But unity with what, and with whom? St. Paul tells us: “you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek…for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

For Catholics, when it comes down to following Christ, we can neither be Republican or Democrat, American or non-American. We should proudly waive the Stars and Stripes, but we must first truly “clothe” ourselves in the teaching of Christ and His Church.

Our bishops have called on us to defend our Religious Liberty at all times,
but especially during the ““Fortnight for Freedom,” these 2 weeks between June 21, the vigil of the Feast of St. Thomas More, and July 4, the day Americans declared war to defend our God-given liberties.

In each of these last days of the Fortnight please join me in defending liberty by daily: praying the “Prayer for Religious Freedom”; praying the Rosary; praying the Novena to St. Thomas More; and offering special penances/sacrifices (including abstaining from meat on Wednesday). Most especially I ask you to join me at the remaining evening Holy Hours this week (see below) and Mass on July the 4th.

As we begin this week celebrating American Freedom, let us stand up as Americans in word and deed against those who would take away our Religious Liberty, even as we kneel down as Catholics in prayer and adoration before the God who sets us truly free.

June 23, 2013

St. Joseph and the Mass. This last week the Congregation for Divine Worship (in charge of liturgy) in the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has decreed that St. Joseph’s name will be added to Eucharistic Prayers 2, 3 and 4 right after the invocation of his spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to honor him and to invoke his intercession. Blessed Pope John XXIII had added St. Joseph to the ancient “Roman Canon” (Eucharistic Prayer 1) in 1962, but for some inexplicable reason Pope Paul VI left him out of the new Eucharistic Prayers (2, 3 and 4) he introduced after Vatican II. God bless Pope Francis for remedying this oversight! St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Adopted Father of Jesus, Husband of Mary, pray for us!

Altar Boy Training. Every week I notice a lot of boys and young men who attend Mass every Sunday but are not altar servers. Of course, this is their choice, but some, especially junior and high school boys, feel they can’t or shouldn’t serve for some reason, e.g. perhaps they only moved to the parish recently, or they never learned how to serve with they were younger, etc. I encourage all eligible boys to please consider serving—it’s a great way to serve the Lord and to be focused at Mass. It’s never too late to learn. Training for new Altar Boys begins July 1—see the note later in this bulletin for more information.

Update on New Priest in Residence. As I mentioned last week, effective this Wednesday, June 26, we will have a new priest in residence, Fr. Paul Quang Van Nguyen. Father will be with us for a few days this month, but will be travelling most of July. He will be with us full time beginning in early August.

Workcamp. Please keep our high school youth in your prayers this week as they head off to Workcamp in the Shenandoah Valley. Pray that the Lord will keep them safe and that they have a great experience of prayer and Christian fellowship, and deepen their relationship with Christ as they serve him in the poor and underprivileged.

Fortnight for Freedom. This last Friday night, on the vigil of the Feast of St. Thomas More, “the King’s good servant, but God’s first,” we began our observance of the second annual Fortnight for Freedom, two weeks of pray, fasting and action dedicated to protecting our threatened Religious Liberty. We continue these efforts this week, especially with the Prayer for Religious Liberty at the end of every Mass and the Holy Hour every evening in the church. Please see the note below for more information.

What follows is an excellent article by the Archbishop of Philadelphia on a troubling development as the administration steps up its campaign against our religious liberty. [Note: The article begins with a lengthy quotation].

Religious Freedom and the Need to Wake Up
May 24th, 2013
By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

“IRS officials have, of course, confessed that they inappropriately targeted conservative groups — especially those with ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’ in their names — for extra scrutiny when they sought non-profit status. Allegations of abuse or harassment have since broadened to include groups conducting grassroots projects to ‘make America a better place to live,’ to promote classes about the U.S. Constitution or to raise support for Israel. However, it now appears the IRS also challenged some individuals and religious groups that, while defending key elements of their faith traditions, have criticized projects dear to the current White House, such as health-care reform, abortion rights and same-sex marriage.” Terry Mattingly, director, Washington Journalism Center; weekly column, May 22

Let’s begin this week with a simple statement of fact. America’s Catholic bishops started pressing for adequate health-care coverage for all of our nation’s people decades before the current administration took office. In the Christian tradition, basic medical care is a matter of social justice and human dignity. Even now, even with the financial and structural flaws that critics believe undermine the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the bishops continue to share the goal of real health-care reform and affordable medical care for all Americans.

But health care has now morphed into a religious liberty issue provoked entirely – and needlessly — by the current White House. Despite a few small concessions under pressure, the administration refuses to withdraw or reasonably modify a Health and Human Services (HHS) contraceptive mandate that violates the moral and religious convictions of many individuals, private employers and religiously affiliated and inspired organizations.

Coupled with the White House’s refusal to uphold the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and its astonishing disregard for the unique nature of religious freedom displayed by its arguments in a 9-0 defeat in the 2012 Hosanna-Tabor Supreme Court decision, the HHS mandate can only be understood as a form of coercion. Access to inexpensive contraception is a problem nowhere in the United States. The mandate is thus an ideological statement; the imposition of a preferential option for infertility. And if millions of Americans disagree with it on principle – too bad.

The fraud at the heart of our nation’s “reproductive rights” vocabulary runs very deep and very high. In his April 26 remarks to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the president never once used the word “abortion,” despite the ongoing Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia and despite Planned Parenthood’s massive role in the abortion industry.

Likewise, as Anthony Esolen recently noted so well, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s public statement on the conviction of abortionist Gosnell was a masterpiece of corrupt and misleading language. Gosnell was found guilty of murdering three infants, but no such mention was made anywhere in the NARAL Pro-Choice America statement.

None of this is finally surprising. Christians concerned for the rights of unborn children, as well as for their mothers, have dealt with bias in the media and dishonesty from the nation’s abortion syndicate for 40 years. But there’s a special lesson in our current situation. Anyone who thinks that our country’s neuralgic sexuality issues can somehow be worked out respectfully in the public square in the years ahead, without a parallel and vigorous defense of religious freedom, had better think again.

As Mollie Hemingway, Stephen Krason and Wayne Laugesen have all pointed out, the current IRS scandal – involving IRS targeting of “conservative” organizations – also has a religious dimension. Selective IRS pressure on religious individuals and organizations has drawn very little media attention. Nor should we expect any, any time soon, for reasons Hemingway outlines for the Intercollegiate Review. But the latest IRS ugliness is a hint of the treatment disfavored religious groups may face in the future, if we sleep through the national discussion of religious liberty now.

The day when Americans could take the Founders’ understanding of religious freedom as a given is over. We need to wake up.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2013

(First Sunday of the Fortnight for Freedom)
June 23, 2013
Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

In 1875 Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives,
James Blaine, of Maine,
introduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution
that would specifically ban state governments
from providing any funding for schools run by religions.

It was part of a response to the influx of Catholic immigrants from Europe,
who, instead of sending their children to public schools,
were opening their own Catholic schools.
Blaine and many others thought this was very bad for the country, divisive,
especially in the aftermath of the devastatingly divisive Civil War
ended just 10 years before.
After defeating the moral evil of slavery that had divided the nation so long,
there was a strong desire among many to unite the country,
based on one set of common moral values.
And they thought one key to doing that was through public schools,
which would teach from one moral perspective.
Unfortunately, that one perspective wound up
reflecting not merely the morals but the religion
of the majority of Americans—Protestantism.
And that was exactly why Catholics started their own schools:
to avoid having their children indoctrinated with
the Protestantism presented in public schools.

So that Speaker Blaine’s amendment was essentially, knowingly, anti-Catholic.
It eventually failed, but it wound up inspiring a rash of amendments
to state constitutions, and eventually an large majority of states had them.
And in many of those states the amendments were pushed through
by one of the strongest openly anti-Catholic organizations of the day:
the Ku Klux Klan

What started out with an apparently good intention,
to be one united people, with one common set of moral standards,
very soon became corrupted by imposition of one religious perspective.
Or, to put it another way, unity was sought at the expense of Religious Liberty.

Today these laws still remain on the books: and they are still anti-Catholic.
While no one would argue that today’s public schools are Protestant,
they are still religious: following the religion of “secular humanism.”
A religion with an understanding of morality that is very different from Catholicism
and that teaches that Catholics are immoral because they disagree.

This secular humanism is, effectively, becoming our nation’s dominate religion
—even among many who still think of themselves Christians,
or even Catholic.
And it increasingly imposes itself on us through our government,
as it tries force us by law to adopt this new unified morality.
It’s rather strange, however:
the same folks who promote unified morality
also embrace “diversity” and “toleration”
as the greatest theological virtues, as goods in themselves.
But they make two exceptions:
there can be no diversity of thought about good and evil, right and wrong,
and no toleration of those who do not agree with that one morality.

So that now, Catholics who are faithful to Catholic morality
are tolerated only if they don’t “impose” their beliefs on others
by even simply talking about those beliefs,
much less actually defending or proposing those beliefs to others.
And Catholics who are not faithful,
–who reject Catholic morality and embrace secular humanist morality,
including its culture of death and perversion,
–these so-called “Catholics” are celebrated
as “enlightened” and “truly moral.”
One can almost see the patronizing hand of secular humanism
petting them on the head and cooing: “good little Catholics.”

This last week our president reminded us that he is a disciple of this religion,
and it’s anti-Catholicism.
Speaking to an audience of school children in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he said:
“If towns remain divided
— if Catholics have their schools and buildings,
and Protestants have theirs
— if we can’t see ourselves in one another,
if fear or resentment are allowed to harden,
that encourages division.
It discourages cooperation.”

Some say he was just encouraging cooperation
and tearing down walls that divide.
That he was talking about the 15 year old peace now in place
after decades, and really centuries, of violence
between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
If that was what he was talking about, then he’s very ignorant:
“the troubles” were always about politics, not religion or morality.
And they in no way sprang forth from Catholic schools and churches,
which had always soundly condemned the violence.

But the President’s solution to division is the same as Blaine’s and the Ku Klux Klan:
send all the children to government schools,
where the government can teach them the one right way to think.

They say it’s not anti-Catholicism—it’s just about unity.
Catholicism just happens to get in the way of unity,
because it dares to reject government approved morality.

Government approved morality, government approved values.
Think about that.
In the last month it’s been revealed that the Internal Revenue Service
has been targeting groups that have values that are different
than the leaders of our government.
That—along with news about the government’s vast intrusions on our privacy, and targeting of reporters who waiver in support of
the values of our leader—
has sent a chill down the spine of many thinking Americans.
And into the hearts of many Catholic Americans.

But none of this should be a surprise to us.
Anti-Catholicism has always been around in America.
It’s ebbed and flowed in our history,
but it’s been on a steady rise for the last 5 decades
—in our laws, our art, our entertainment and in our classrooms.
And we’ve seen it especially in last five years as values that had been
truly common American values since before our founding,
have been thrown aside, and their moral opposites installed
by our government as now “sacred” and truly moral.
From the embrace of the gay culture and lifestyle,
to the celebration of abortion as a good thing,
to the promotion of sexual promiscuity and perversion,
to the attack on the freedom of religion.
But it came to a head in January of last year
as our current president and his Secretary of Health and Human Services
—one of those “good little Catholics” I mentioned earlier—
issued regulations to implement Obamacare.
Regulations that would force
Catholic business owners,
and Catholic charitable organizations,
and Catholic schools and colleges
and even, in many cases, the Catholic Church itself,
to provide all their employees with health insurance that covers
not simply contraception, but also sterilization
and abortion-inducing drugs.
And then having the audacity
to tell Catholics they needed to change their ancient moral teachings,
and then contemptuously bragging about all this
in their election campaigns.

It’s the same old anti-Catholicism,
this time not presented with the moral authority of mainstream Protestantism,
or dressed up in the white sheets of the Klan.
But wearing the same old mantel of moral self-righteousness,
and preaching the same old Gospel of unity.
But all this is lie: it is a false idea of America, and a false of idea of good and evil.
And it is truly anti-Catholic.

And it is not a matter of politics
—it is about how we live our lives according to our faith and our morals.

And it’s not about political parties.
In 1875 Speaker of the House James Blaine
was a member of the Republican Party,
as was the vast majority of the Congress and the President.
The party that was founded just 20 years earlier principally to abolish slavery,
and took our country into civil war to end slavery.
But that party,
that fought so nobly to end the oppression of people of different races,
then went on to promote the oppression of people of different religions.

In 2012, President Barrack Obama,
his administration and so many in the Congress,
are members of the Democrat Party.
The party that not so long ago was the main party of faithful Catholics,
fighting for the average joe, and for equal rights for Catholics,
And eventually, after finally shedding its pro-slavery and racially bigoted past,
it became the champion equal rights for all races.
But now, it has followed the way of Speaker Blaine,
and become the champion of immortality
and the oppression of faithful Catholics.

And make no mistake—all too many Republics join them in this anti-Catholicism.
Again, all of them wrapping themselves in the flag, and calling for “unity.”

But unity with what? and with whom?
St. Paul tells us in today’s second reading:
“Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.
…you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek…for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

I love America, and I am a proud American.
But for Catholics, baptized and clothed in Christ,
when it comes down to our faith in Christ and following him,
we can neither be Republican or Democrat,
American or Un-American.
We should proudly waive the Stars and Stripes,
but we must truly “clothe” ourselves
in the teaching of Christ and His Church.

This means standing opposed
to those who demand we deny our ancient Catholic moral values
and embrace the government approved values of secular humanism.
To those who demand that we forfeit our God-given religious liberty,
the very first liberty guaranteed and protected by our Constitution.
Standing opposed to them, and standing with Jesus,
who reminds us in today’s Gospel:
“The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests,
and the scribes.”

It may mean we will rejected by the elders of our government
and the chief priests of our secular culture.
It may mean we will be mocked and hated;
it may even mean confiscation of our property and even imprisonment.
But as Christ goes on to remind us:
“If anyone wishes to come after me,
he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

My friends, our bishops have called on us to defend our Religious Liberty
at all times,
but especially during these 2 weeks between June 21 and July 4:
this “Fortnight for Freedom” between
the Feast of St. Thomas More
—the great Catholic Martyr who was
“the King’s good servant, but God’s first,”—
and Independence Day
—when Americans declared war
to defend our God-given liberties.
Let us stand up as Americans in word and deed
against those who would oppress us,
even as we kneel down as Catholics in prayer and adoration
before the God who would set us free.
Let us waive the flag of freedom,
but let us do so as we take up our cross and follow Christ.
Let us pray for national unity,
but let us pray first for Catholic unity,
that Catholics may be truly “one in Christ.”

June 16, 2013 (Father’s Day)

Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day to all our Dads out there. It’s a great day to thanks our Dads for all they’ve done for us: all the love, patience, and sacrifices, and especially for the gift of life. It’s also a day to honor our fathers, living and dead, and to give them gifts as tokens of our appreciation, including our prayers (note: consider enrolling them in our triduum of Masses beginning today, using the large envelopes at the doors of the church).

Unfortunately, as our culture continues its rapid decline under moral relativism, this has also become a day to remind the culture, including many fathers and their children, about the true meaning and importance of fatherhood, as wells the threats against it. It seems that every year this becomes more and more necessary. Because whether we realize it or not forces in our culture are progressively demeaning fatherhood to the point that it may soon be debased beyond recognition.

Consider how some jurisdictions are now not even recording the fathers of children in their birth records, referring instead only to “parent 1” and “parent 2” and even “parent 3.” Consider that 41% of all babies in the U.S. are now born out of wedlock. Also consider the number of babies conceived in vitro or through artificial insemination, often with anonymous “donors.” And the incredible increase in the use of the pill and other contraceptives by women, which put the entire responsibility of conception on women/mothers. All this has the cumulative effect of reducing fathers to mere irresponsible “gamete donors.”

But all that is relatively old news. The silently growing threat for the last few years, and now just over the horizon, is the legitimization of “gay” relationships and “gay marriage.” The effects of this are many and multifaceted, but let’s just consider one. If the courts or legislatures can redefine the meaning of “marriage” from what everyone everywhere has always understood it to mean—the naturally occurring union of male and female in mutual love intent on the begetting and raising of children—what will keep them from redefining the meaning of “fatherhood”? If marriage is no longer marriage, why should fatherhood be fatherhood?

For example, why should a mere “male gamete donor” have any rights or responsibilities toward the product of their donation (i.e., children)—rights and responsibilities that up until now everyone, everywhere has always considered as belonging to the very nature of “fatherhood”? So that when government officials and professional experts (e.g., teachers, school administrators, doctors, bureaucrats) deem they know what’s best for a man’s children—even a married man raising his children in his own home—why would the gamete-donor’s (the father’s) opinions be considered?

Fatherhood is at risk of becoming meaningless and even extinct for legal purposes and at a macro-cultural level. But it can never be that for Catholics or other Christians, and we must protect our society and culture from this degradation. Because when fatherhood becomes meaningless, motherhood will soon follow, the family will disintegrate, and society will soon come crashing down on top of us.

Happy Father’s Day. Now get off the fence, and with the grace of Christ and in union with His Holy Church, join the fight against the encroaching morally relativistic culture: fight to protect fatherhood, motherhood and family.

This week: “Fortnight for Freedom.” This Friday we begin the “Fortnight for Freedom” to pray for the protection of Religious Liberty, running from June 21 (the vigil of the Feast of St. Thomas More) to July 4 (Independence Day). Please see the 2-sided insert in this bulletin for more information. On one side you’ll find a discussion of the reasons for the Fortnight and a summary of the activities I am inviting you to participate in, both as individuals/families at home and with fellow parishioners at the church. On the other side you will find the “Prayer for Religious Freedom” and the parish “Liturgical Schedule” for the Fortnight. With all my heart, I strongly encourage all of you to participate and raise up “a great hymn of prayer for our country.”

Fr. Barnes. Congratulations to Fr. Nick Barnes, who was ordained last Saturday, June 8, and celebrated his first Mass here at St. Raymond’s last Sunday. From June 26 to September 6 Fr. Barnes will be assigned as Parochial Vicar at Holy Spirit in Annandale. After that he will return to Rome for a year to finish his graduate degree in dogmatic theology.

New Priest in Residence. The changes in priest assignments in the diocese were also announced last Saturday. Fr. Kenna and I will be staying put another year, but we will be adding a new priest in residence: Fr. Paul Quang Van Nguyen. Fr. Nguyen is from Viet Nam and has been studying at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College (residing at Queen of Apostles in Alexandria) for the last year. His primary responsibility for the next 1½ years will be to complete his studies, so he is not assigned to any pastoral responsibilities in the parish. He will, however, offer Mass and hear confessions as he is available—which will be a big help. I am sure you will join me in welcoming Father to our parish.

Summer Music, and Choir. As we go into “Summer mode” you will note our customary changes to the music at Mass. In particular the 8:45 choir and the 10:30 schola will take the summer off, and the 5:00pm Sunday Mass will not have music (no organ or cantor). As you know, liturgical music is very important to me, so have no fear, all will return to normal in September.

In the meantime, as the choir takes its summer vacation I’m informed that several choir members will be moving over the summer, so we are in need of new choir members. I strongly encourage you to consider whether the Lord be calling you to join in this very important work for the parish. We have an excellent choir, but our choir members tell me that doesn’t mean you have to be a fantastic singer. Our music director, Elisabeth Turco, is a fantastic teacher and works with a variety of skill levels to bring out the best in each and all together. Also, the choir is open to teen members. For more info, please contact Elisabeth (turcoe@aol.com).

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

June 9, 2013

FATHER BARNES! Congratulations to our own Fr. Nicolas Barnes, upon his ordination to the Holy Priesthood. Fr. Barnes, son of parishioner Donald Barnes, was ordained yesterday (Saturday, June 9) by Bishop Loverde, and will say his first Mass here at St. Raymond’s today at 12:15. All are invited to that Mass and to the reception afterwards in the Parish Hall.

Father is a fine young man, and I know he will make an excellent and holy priest. After two years at St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia, he has spent the last four years studying in Rome. Now the Bishop has assigned him to return to Rome for one more year to finish work on his Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) in Dogmatics. After that it is anticipated he will return to the Diocese for priestly service.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders. Speaking from personal experience, I can attest that the priesthood is a wonderful gift. But it is not a gift given to a man for his own good or purposes, but rather for the good of the whole Church and for God’s purposes. So it is really a gift to the whole Church.

Although we sometimes rightly refer to the “sacrament of the priesthood” it is more proper to refer to the “Sacrament of Holy Orders.” But this can be confusing, since Holy Orders can be received in three way, or “degrees”: the diaconate (“deacons”), the presbyterate (“priests”) and the episcopacy (“bishops”). As the Catechism (1554) teaches:

Catholic doctrine…recognizes that there are two degrees of ministerial participation in the priesthood of Christ: the episcopacy and the presbyterate . The diaconate is intended to help and serve them. For this reason the term sacerdos [priest] in current usage denotes bishops and priests but not deacons. Yet Catholic doctrine teaches that the degrees of priestly participation (episcopate and presbyterate) and the degree of service (diaconate) are all three conferred by a sacramental act called “ordination,” that is, by the sacrament of Holy Orders.

By his priestly ordination the priest receives the permanent grace to act in persona Christi capitis—in the person of (in the place of, representing) Christ the Head (of the body/Church). He is, for the good of the whole Church, ontologically configured to Christ: priest, prophet and king, and so shares, with the Apostles, in Jesus’ threefold ministry to sanctify, teach and govern the Church. As such, the priest shares in Christ’s shepherdhood as “pastor.” Moreover, in this sacrament he receives the special graces to both fulfill these duties and to live the life of holiness his office demands.

To be ordained a priest today a man must normally be unmarried and undergo at least 6 years of intense full-time human, spiritual, intellectual, and academic formation in the seminary. Unlike “religious” priests (Dominicans, Jesuits, etc.), a diocesan (or “secular”) priest, does not take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but rather makes promises of 1) obedience to their bishop and 2) to live a life of chaste celibacy, and is required to live a “simple life.” (Actually, the priest’s promise of celibacy is made at his ordination to deacon about a year before he becomes a priest).

After 17 years as a priest, I can unreservedly say that I have thanked the Good Lord every day for the incredible gift of my priesthood. Although there are many crosses, there are so many blessings I can’t begin to describe them. Let me borrow the words of the great Dominican preacher, Fr. Henri-Dominique Lacordaire (1802-1861), in his poem, “A Priest.”

To live in the midst of the world // without wishing its pleasures;
To be a member of each family, // yet belonging to none;
To share all suffering; // to penetrate all secrets;
To heal all wounds; // to go from men to God // and offer Him their prayers;
To return from God to men // to bring pardon and hope;
To have a heart of fire for Charity, // and a heart of bronze for Chastity;
To teach and to pardon, // console and bless always.
My God, what a life; // and it is yours, // O priest of Jesus Christ.

I am so happy for Fr. Barnes today, and pray that he will persevere in accepting this great gift and mystery. May he be a holy, brave, loving and humble priest and spiritual father. Let’s all keep him in our prayers, thank the Lord for this gift, and pray that many other young men from our parish will soon join him in accepting the call to Holy Priesthood.

Corpus Christi Procession. If you missed last Sunday’s Eucharistic procession, you missed a great treat. What a beautiful thing to see so many parishioners giving such public witness to their faith in the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist! Once again attendance was up from last year—I would guess somewhere around 250 came out. Let me thank all of you who came, but especially those who worked so hard to make things run so smoothly: the parish staff, the choir, the altar boys, the sacristans, the flower ladies, the Knights of Columbus, the youth group, and so many other volunteers—forgive me for not naming you all. And let me express special appreciation to Patrick O’Brien, who once again stepped up to coordinate everything. May our Eucharistic Lord shower you with His blessings.

Save the dates for “Fortnight for Freedom.” Beginning Friday June 21 (the vigil of the Feast of St. Thomas More) and running through July 4 (Independence Day), St. Raymond’s will join Catholics across the country in keeping a “Fortnight for Freedom” to pray and fast for the protection of Religious Liberty, especially with regarding the so called “contraceptive mandate” of Obamacare regulations, and challenges to traditional marriage. In addition to praying special prayers (and fasting) at home we will again have Eucharistic Holy Hours every day during the fortnight (some including “Exposition”). Please see next week’s bulletin for more details.

New Assignments for Priests. The annual re-assignments of priests were announced yesterday (Saturday). As I write this (on “deadline Wednesday”) I do not anticipate that we will be effected by the changes, although I am always hopeful that we will find another priest-student to live in residence. Please pray for the priests who do receive new assignments, which can be difficult—“To be a member of each family, yet belonging to none.”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles