Father’s Day. This Sunday Americans celebrate “Father’s Day.” What a blessing for children to be raised by a devoted father partnered with his good wife, their mother. Together father and mother are naturally suited to teach their children how to love, serve and lead others: how to be good citizens, good workers, good friends, and good neighbors, and of course good brothers and sisters, good parents and good spouses.
A good father teaches his children, especially his sons, how to be good and holy men, how to be responsible, hardworking and creative, and both strong and caring, just and merciful, brave and compassionate. By the way he treats his wife a good father teaches his sons how to treat all women with respect and love, and how to be a good and faithful husband and father; and he teaches his daughters what to look for in a good husband.
Without good fathers, especially married to mothers, things get very hard for the family, for children, and for society. Over the last 50 years many have tried to diminish the importance of fatherhood, and the result is more domestic violence and heartache, as well as social upheaval. Is it any wonder we see so many problems in society, especially related to young men who have not had a strong and loving father to teach them what it means to be a real man?
Most especially, fathers, I urge you to take responsibility for the religious and moral formation of your children. You take care of all their physical needs, why would you neglect their spiritual and moral life? Life is hard, but it’s impossible without God’s grace. And when their life on this earth is over, you want to be with them blissfully happy in heaven, and not wallowing in the pain of hell for eternity. So make it your first priority to bring them up in the devout practice of the Catholic faith—first and foremost by your good example.
Fathers, I commend you for the good work done and sacrifices you’ve made for your families. Always remember that Christ will not abandon you to do it all on your own—He will give you the grace to be the great man He created and calls you to be. Happy and blessed Father’s Day.
The Catholic Education of our Youth. In the last couple of years I’ve been trying to keep you updated on the developments in Fairfax County Public Schools, i.e., “transgendered” policy and related changes in Family Life Education. As I write this on Wednesday (June 13) I think of tomorrow’s meeting of the FCPS Board at which they will cast a final vote on changes to the “family life” curriculum, including:
— Using the phrase “sex assigned at birth” instead of “biological sex” to teach children that biology has no impact on being male or female;
— Teaching students about pre-exposure prophylaxis. Also called PrEP, this drug is designed for use by those who are engaged in sexual behaviors which put them at high risk of contracting HIV;
— Removing “clergy” from a list of trusted adults with whom children should talk about their concerns regarding sex and sexuality;
— No longer teaching that abstinence is the only 100% effective method of preventing sexually transmitted infections or diseases.
I continue to fear that in spite of the many good people working in FCPS (especially many good St. Raymond parishioners), the philosophy and curriculum of our Fairfax public schools puts our children at risk spiritually, morally, intellectually and emotionally, and pose grave dangers to their eternal salvation. Therefore, as your spiritual father, I strongly urge you to consider either removing your children from these schools, or proving robust remedial efforts at home to offset the effects of these risks (CCD and Youth Apostolate activities are a good start, but not near enough to offset the dangers).
To that end, I strongly urge you to consider either enrolling your children in Catholic schools or homeschooling your children in the coming school year. No school is perfect, even Catholic schools and “home schools,” but they seem to me the best alternatives for most of our children.
I realize that either of these alternatives may require great sacrifice on your parts. But isn’t that what fathers and mothers do for their children? Please remember, the parish offers scholarships to our parish children to attend local Catholic grade and high schools. These scholarships are conditioned on the active involvement of the families in the life of the parish and are usually $500 for grade school students (or enough to make up the difference between “in parish” and “out of parish” tuition rates) to $1000 for high school students. Moreover, where the situation warrants, we will give additional tuition aid—ask me and I’ll do what I can! Also, remember that a special Diocesan fund offers financial aid to many students.
I also want to reiterate and emphasize our long-term special relationship with Angelus Academy, where I am Chaplain. It is an excellent school, and I encourage you to consider the possibility. Also, we also offer financial assistance to families who choose to homeschool and need help in paying for certain direct costs related to this. Please contact me if you need such assistance.
“Religious Freedom Week” Begins this Friday. The last few years we’ve joined the U.S. Bishops in keeping a “Fortnight for Freedom” from June 22 through July 4. Because of the significant gains we have made in the last year and half, especially with a new federal administration that has strongly reversed the anti-religious efforts of the prior administration, I have been thinking it would be prudent keep this practice going, but to scale it back somewhat from the past. As it turns out, the Bishops had a similar idea, and have replaced the “Fortnight for Freedom” (14 days) with a “Religious Freedom Week,” which begins on June 22, the Feast of St. Thomas More, and ends on June 29, the Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul. We will adopt this timing and title, and keep this week in the following simplified way:
praying the “Prayer for Religious Freedom” after every Mass;
keeping our regularly scheduled “Holy Hour for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty” on Wednesday, June 27, at 6pm;
encouraging all parishioners to pray the “Prayer for Religious Freedom” daily at home, and perhaps also making the Novena to St. Thomas More.
I hope you will join in praying for our Church and our Country.
Lighting Project. Remember that the work to install our new lighting will begin in two weeks, on Monday, July 2, and will finish by September 1. We will not be able to use the church during the weekdays, so the Blessed Sacrament, along with all Masses, confessions, and all other church-activities, will be moved to Parish Hall from Monday through Friday. All Saturday and Sunday Masses and confessions will be held in the church. Thanks for your patience, and pray to St. Raymond for the successful completion of the lighting work.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles