The Baptism of the Lord

Christmas Ends, and Continues. Today we end the season of Christmas. But as this special liturgical celebration of Christmas ends, the celebration of the essence and meaning of Christmas must continue. By that I don’t mean the secular or sentimental celebration of Christmas, but rather the celebration of the fact that the eternal God the Son condescended to be born a vulnerable baby, in order that He may enter fully into our human life, and by His human life, death and resurrection transform that life. Christ came to change us, so let’s allow Him to change our lives, and go into this new year recommitted to truly love Him and our neighbor as He taught and showed us, to live the life of grace, hope, faith and love. The life of Jesus Christ, who came to us on Christmas day to change us and to remain with us throughout the year, and all our lives.

March for Life. This Friday, January 18, hundreds of thousands of Christians and other people of goodwill will participate in the 46th annual “March for Life” on the Mall in Washington, commemorating the 46th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade creating the so-called “right to abortion.” Perhaps no court decision or legislation has so directly and fundamentally had such a wide and terrible effect on our nation. And not only in the devastation of 60 million or so babies it has killed, or the millions of mothers whose lives it has ruined. But also in its shaping of our American culture into a culture that degrades human life more and more every day, transforming human beings from persons whose lives have value and meaning in themselves into things that have value and meaning only to the extent other persons who have power over them chose to give them.
Some people tell us we should not talk about this, or at least not talk about it so much, or so loudly or so vehemently. But how can we be silent, when we remember that it is all intimately related to the radicalness of God’s love and His commandment to love our neighbor.
On Friday four busloads of St. Raymond parishioners will drive down to the Mall to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Life, including the Lord’s call to all of us to love our neighbor, even if our neighbor is a tiny unborn baby. Please join us. Sign-up sheets for the bus are located in the narthex of the Church today.

Update on Lighting and Murals Project. I just wanted to let you know that our lighting project, which was finished in August, is completely paid for and came in under budget. The total actual costs were $363,831.80 (including the millwork and initial costs for the paintings), compared to our budget of $372,207.90. The only thing that remains to be paid for is the murals themselves and their installation, which is fixed at a cost of $67,200.00.

Offertory Collection. I want to thank all of you for giving so generously to various collections over the last few weeks, and for your special year-end donations to the parish.

But I’m a little concerned too. Just a little. Because for the last few months I’ve been watching our Offertory collection very carefully and, unfortunately, it has been going down. For the six months ended December 31, 2018, it has declined by $139,000 compared to the same period last year. Happily, this has been partially offset by an increase in our Maintenance Fund (formerly “Building Loan”) collection and other Donations by $45,000, but that still leaves a decline of $93,000, or down 8% from last year at this time. That’s a lot of money.
Now, frankly, I have been expecting something like this for years: I figured once the building loan was paid off some of you would stop seeing the need to give as much.
But there is probably another factor affecting this: the abuse-coverup scandal. A lot of people think the only way to get the bishops and the pope to do something is to hit them in their pocketbooks, so they’ve decided not to give to the Church, or not to give as much as before.
I understand that. The thing is, though, of the parish offertory collection, only 8% (we call it the “cathedraticum tax”) goes to the Bishop for diocesan expenses, and none of it goes to “Rome.” So by decreasing your donations to the parish you are affecting the parish much more than you are affecting the Bishop/Diocese. So if this a concern, please reconsider. And remember, contributions to the Maintenance Fund or to the parish separately from the Offertory Collection are not subject to the cathedraticum tax, and 100% goes to the parish.
The thing is, we will survive and be okay with the decline in contributions. But we will be limited in our planning for the future, and in what we can do today. And I don’t want the parish to be just “okay,” even financially. I want us to flourish.
I know that sometime in the next few months, someone from the Diocesan staff will call and tell me I have to do a hard sell campaign to get you to increase donations. That is something I do not want to do, first of all, because it’s your money, not “ours”, but also I just don’t think that’s right during this time of confusion and scandal.
So I once again thank you all for your generosity. And I just ask you to please prayerfully consider the level of your giving, and give what you think is right to the parish.

Rest in Peace. Last week we heard the sad news that long-time parishioner, Cathy Conway, had passed away. Cathy and her family joined St. Raymond’s in 2004, and she was active in the parish, especially with our Special Needs Apostolate and the youth group, for many years. She also served on our Finance Committee for many years, including as chairman under both Fr. Gould and me. She was a great help to me in my first year at the parish. Please keep her and her family in your prayers. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat ei.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

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