February 2, 2014

Re-Evangelization of St. Raymond’s. Last Sunday I spoke at all the Masses about fostering the New Evangelization in our parish by first re-evangelizing ourselves. (The text of my homily is on the website). One of the key things I encouraged was committing to volunteer in one of the many parish groups/activities. I strongly believe that active involvement in the parish in this way is a key way to help you to grow in your faith and love for Christ. So, please, as I said in my homily, pray about this, but then make a commitment, and call to volunteer.

In the handout distributed at Mass I included a list of groups for you to refer to (and I included that list in my column last week as well). I knew as if I did that I’d probably leave one or more important groups/activities off the list—and, sure enough, I did. Two groups have come to my attention: the Crafters (Mary K Randazzo, 703-455-4209) and the Men’s Prayer Group (Dave Wilson, 703-455-1847). If any other groups were inadvertently excluded, please let me or the office know so we can correct that. We are currently pulling together a brochure with more information about all the groups, so we want to make sure we include you in that.

Trail Life USA. In December, I wrote about how we were planning to start a new partnership with Trail Life USA to provide a Christ-centered adventure, character, and leadership program for the boys and young men in our parish. In January dozens of interested parents have enthusiastically gathered for information meetings about Trail Life. Now I can announce that through the dedicated efforts of some of these parents we have obtained a Trail Life charter, and had our first troop meeting with our first members this last Wednesday. (This meeting took place after the deadline of this column, so I don’t have more details to share.) I am very excited about this new partnership, and very hopeful that, with God’s grace, this will begin an exciting new chapter in our parish ministry to youth.

CYO: Youth Sports or “Youth Group”? Speaking of parish groups and youth….Ever since I moved here from Texas 22 years ago, I’ve been confused by folk’s use of the term “CYO.” CYO stands for Catholic Youth Organization, and in most parts of the country (although not all) it is synonymous for Catholic youth sports leagues. In fact, our parish basketball teams (along with the teams of most of the other Arlington parishes) are affiliated with the Northern Virginia Junior Catholic Youth Organization. Even so, at St. Raymond’s I often hear our Youth Group referred to as “CYO.” It’s really no big deal, but it does cause some confusion, so let me clarify: at St. Raymond’s “CYO” refers only to the parish youth basketball teams, led so well by Ed Gloninger. It does not refer to the parish “Youth Group,” or as we officially call it, “St. Raymond’s Youth Apostolate.”

Angel Wall. Although not a group or activity, one of the most beautiful and cherished customs of our parish is found in the narthex by the statue of the Angel—“the Angel Wall.” On this wall are placed the names of children of our parish who have died before birth or any time before adulthood. It is a beautiful thing to remember them, and a great comfort to so many moms and dads, and families. Please remember to visit this wall from time to time, and say a little prayer for the babies and for their families, entrusting them to the mercy of our Dear Lord.

New Website. Thanks to Keith Oswald for putting together our new and improved parish website. Athough the address is the same as before (www.straymonds.org), the “new” site is much easier to navigate and much more user friendly. I’m confident that it will be a great resource for parishioners who want to keep up on the latest parish news, learn more about the faith and find out what parish groups are up to. In the coming weeks more improvements will be made, and more content added. Any parish group wishing to be included on the site, please contact Keith at: webmaster@straymonds.org.

Latin at the 8:45 Mass. I have been greatly encouraged by the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to our “turning the altar around” to celebrate the 8:45 Mass “ad orientem.” Although a very few people continue to express their disapproval, there’s not a week that goes by when someone new doesn’t share with me their appreciation of the change.

Given that response, a few weeks ago I threw out another proposal to the congregation at the end of the 8:45 Mass: the possibility of praying more of the 8:45 Mass in Latin. I went on to clarify that the great majority of the Mass would still be in English, but we might do some of the common prayers repeated every week in Latin, e.g., the Sanctus (Holy, Holy), the Our Father, and the Gloria, and perhaps some of the greetings and introductions (“The Lord be with you,” “Let us pray”). My plan would be to not say/sing the Creed or the Confiteor in Latin, since those prayers are particularly personal (“I confess,” “I believe”). But perhaps, from time to time, I might say the ancient Roman Canon in Latin.

Let me briefly clarify some of the reasons why I would do this:
–Latin is the official language of the Universal Catholic Church, and symbolically unites us to other Catholics throughout the world today;
–Latin unites us to all the Catholics, innumerable great saints and our own familial ancestors who for centuries before us were spiritually fed at the Latin Mass;
–Because Latin is not the language of everyday use, it helps remind us that the Mass is not an everyday event, a mystery defying time and space;
–Vatican II, Bd. Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Bd. Pope John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, all called for a continued use of Latin in the Mass, and Pope Francis continues to use Latin in his Masses.

So far, responses to my request, have run overwhelmingly in favor of increasing the use of Latin. This is not a vote, but I do look forward to your comments. Please keep them respectful and to the point. And if you write to me, please sign your name: I do not read unsigned correspondence.

March for Life. God bless all the folks who braved the sub-zero wind chill to March for Life on January 22. Thanks especially to Liz Hildebrand for organizing the 3 buses from our parish, and to all the folks who organized and cooked for the chili dinner afterward. (By the way, there are still crockpots that have not been picked up).

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles