October: Respect Life. Decades ago the U.S. Bishops proclaimed every October to be “Respect Life Month” and the first Sunday of October to be “Respect Life Sunday.” To kick off this month today, Sunday, October 4, our parishioners will join thousands of Americans in the “Life Chain.” This year, as in the past, over 100 St. Raymond parishioners will join other local pro-lifers lining up on the sidewalk of Franconia Road in front of Key Middle School from 2:30 to 3:30 PM to simply stand peacefully and quietly praying, maybe holding a sign, as a public witness to our respect for the dignity of human life. It is always a very spiritually rewarding event. Please join in. Parking is available at the school, and Pro-Life signs will be available.
In other Pro-Life news, Praised be Jesus Christ! the Amethyst abortion clinic in Manassas has closed its doors. For over 2 decades folks have been praying on the sidewalk there, and for over 25 years a group of dedicated women ran a pro-life counselling center next door, AAA Women for Choice. The Lord has mercifully responded to all those years of hard work and prayers, and His powerful grace has overflowed!
Later this month we will once again be joining in the 40 Days for Life Campaign. We were planning to pray at Amethyst again, but now will shift to the Planned Parenthood facility on Maple Street in Falls Church. There is a display and sign-up sheet in the narthex this weekend—please visit it and sign up. Look at what the Lord did in Manassas in response to the prayers of so many!
Speaking of Planned Parenthood. Don’t believe the lies this corrupt and bloodied organization spews. They provide no services to women that other women’s health centers can’t and do provide, but they (PP) also add the “service” (to whom?) of abortion—the slaughter of innocents and the emotional maiming of mothers—and then profit from selling the body parts of the babies. Have you seen the videos? You should:
Remember, as our Holy Father, Pope Francis told Congress last week: “All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity…. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development…..every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity…”
Synod of Bishops. Today (Sunday) the “Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family” will begin its 3 weeks of meetings in Rome to discuss the theme of “The vocation and mission of the family.” Practically speaking, this is a continuation of last October’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops.
This will surely be a time of great confusion and disharmony in the Church, as forces are openly trying to compromise the teaching of Christ on marriage, found in Scripture. They will not succeed, because this is Christ’s Church, not theirs. But, as I’m sure we will see in the news, there will be heated arguments and debates. So pray for those defending the teachings of Christ and His Church, that they may be clever, wise and strong for our Lord and for marriage and family. Let us also pray that they may have the opportunity to consider real and helpful ways of dealing with the pastoral problems that exist in our families.
It is surely a sign of God’s providence that the Synod begins today, as the Gospel read at all the Masses around the world is the one of the key foundational texts laying out Jesus’ specific and unambiguous teaching on marriage (Mark 10):
“The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife? ” He said to them in reply, “…from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate….”Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery …”
Pretty clear stuff. And the Church, from the Apostles, has always understood it as Jesus’ own definitive divine teaching: marriage is a gift from God, who defines what He has given; marriage is for life; there is no divorce in God’s eyes; and a civilly divorced person commits adultery if he/she tries to marry a second spouse (without the Church decreeing the “first” marriage invalid, i.e., an annulment).
At the same time, Catholics should always show charity and mercy to all who find themselves in these trying situations, especially those who are innocent victims. But true compassion is not ignoring problems, or pretending that evil is good. True mercy shows kindness to the sinner while simultaneously calling them to stop sinning, for their own good. As Jesus, the truly Merciful One, told us in last week’s Gospel: “if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God [Heaven] with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna [Hell].”
If you are interested in reading more on the defense of Christ’s teaching on marriage consider these excellent books: “Eleven Cardinals Speak on Marriage and the Family” [new] and “Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church” [last year’s so-called “Five Cardinals’ book”]. Another amazing read that addresses these same issues (and lots of others) is the interview-biography of Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, “God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith.” I highly recommend it.
Fr. Mealey. Most of you do not know him, or even of him, but for almost 3 decades Fr. Mark Mealey, OSFS, has been the most important priest, after the bishop, in the Arlington Diocese. For the last 25 years he served as Judicial Vicar, or chief judge and canon lawyer. In addition, for the last 10 years he has also served as Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia—in other words, he has been the Bishop’s second in command. This last week Fr. Mealey ended his service in the Diocese, as he was called by his order (Oblates of St. Francis de Sales) to work fulltime on administrative matters for the worldwide order. Frankly, I don’t know what we will do without him, especially as Bishop Loverde readies for his own retirement. He is a faithful priest, a canonist of international repute, a compassionate and just judge, a consummate administrator, and good friend. Please join me in praying for him as he begins his new responsibilities, and pray that the Bishop finds a good priest, or priests, to fill his many responsibilities.
Remember to pray for Bishop Loverde, and the appointment of his successor!
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles