Las Vegas. Our hearts go out to all the victims and their families of the Las Vegas mass shooting last week. Most especially, we pray for the souls of the dead, who died so unexpectantly without a chance to confess their sins or otherwise repent before the Lord.
And let us pray also for the shooter. We should not forget the horror of what he did or deny the pain he has caused. But as the Lord reminds us we must love even our enemies. So, in love, we pray for his soul: love the sinner, hate the sin. Although we can and should objectively judge him to be a terrible sinner, we cannot pass final judgment on whether God will forgive him somehow, knowing that God alone knows the fullness of our hearts and the freedom with which we act. So, while his acts themselves clearly merit eternal damnation to hell, God may see something else we don’t see—He might even have seen him sincerely repent as the last bullet fired. So we pray for him, even as we recognize clearly the terrible sins he committed.
And we pray for ourselves: that we may not meet our death without the ability to confess or repent. By the way: go to confession!
It is hard to understand what is happening to our nation and culture that things like this keep happening. We can sort of wrap our minds around assaults by Islamist terrorists—they have declared war and we understand (at least intellectually) their irrational and hateful motivation. But this kind of mass violence, whether for political purposes or for no apparent reason, is just mind boggling.
But I can’t help but think it is the reflection of the culture of death built up by society’s rejection of the foundational respect for innocent human life, especially of the unborn. A society that encourages the murder of innocent babies necessarily undermines respect for all innocent life.
There will be a lot of calls in the coming days for increased gun control. Since the Church has no traditional teaching directly governing this, it is clearly largely a matter for individual consciences. But I will remind you that Church tradition does teach two important principles which apply in this debate: on the one hand, we have a duty to protect innocent human life through reasonable laws constraining dangerous behavior, and on the other hand, we have a personal duty and right to use necessary force to personally protect innocent life (ourselves and others). So, while some weapon restrictions are morally justified, we cannot ignore the moral right to defend ourselves and others. Finding the proper balance of these two principles is up for reasoned and charitable debate. As for the constitutional question, that is another matter….
But regardless of gun laws, as long as our society continues to promote abortion, not to mention the murder of the sick or elderly in euthanasia, it seems to me we will continue to see the terrible effects on our cultural. So let’s work on this above all: building a culture of life that respects all innocent human life, beginning with the unborn, that makes it unthinkable for anyone, anywhere, to intentionally kill any innocent human life.
Ambulance at Mass. At last Sunday’s 8:45 Mass one of our parishioners had an emergency that necessitated the intervention of the County EMS and a ride to the hospital. I’m glad to report that the woman was only suffering from a temporary illness, and is at home now, safe and sound. But let me share with you part of the note she sent to me:
“The parishioners around me were so helpful and comforting. One of the ushers…held my hand, told me I was going to be just fine, very reassuring.…He then came onto the ambulance… He called my friend and gave her hospital information. An angel on earth. I wanted to let you know how grateful I am to be part of such a wonderful parish community.”
We are part of a “wonderful parish.” Thanks to all who were helpful to her, especially the ushers (and that particular usher) for their calm and kind intervention. In fraternal charity let us keep her in prayer.
One more thing. I’m told Fr. Smith was unaware of what had happened during the Mass, and continued offering the Mass without interruption. This is actually not unusual or unexpected. The priest tries to focus on the Mass itself, to be taken up and totally absorbed in the prayer, sacrifice and adoration, so that he would normally not notice something unusual in the congregation. Moreover, since most present couldn’t directly help the woman, the greatest things they could do, especially the priest, was/is to pray for them—and so continue with the Mass.
Welcome Back, Choir. I have forgotten to welcome back our choir after their summer off. I have to say I miss them at the 8:45 Mass, but I think moving them to the 10:30 Mass was the right thing, since they will be able to serve more folks in that larger congregation. Thanks to all choir members for all you do to add beauty to the celebration at our parish worship. As is the case every year, we lost a few members over the summer, folks who moved away from the area. I understand we picked up a couple of new members, but we still need more members.
Remember, you don’t have to be a virtuoso to be in the choir—Elisabeth Turco (our choir director) can do wonders bringing various talents and gifts together to give glory to God. Please contact to her to talk about joining the choir (703-506-4644, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Fairfax Public Schools. By now many of you have settled back into your classes at the Fairfax Public Schools. Remember to stand strong in your Catholic faith and common sense, especially against the brainwashing of the secular elites who want to bully you into supporting sexual promiscuity, same-sex sexual relationships and marriage, the transgender agenda, and abortion. In this regard, please (parents) consider “OPT-ing OUT” of the schools’ Family Life Education (FLE), at least those parts that specifically seek to undermine what we teach our kids about the true meaning of family life. Also, be supportive of good teachers and administrators who are trying to live their Christian faith and common reason in the schools. Many of our parishioners work and teach in FCPS trying to do the Lord’s work. So support them, with your kindness and with your prayers.
November 7 State Elections. On November 7 Virginians have the chance to vote for their next governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state senators and delegates. Remember what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2240) teaches us that it is “morally obligatory …to exercise the right to vote…”
The deadline to register to vote is October 16th, and deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 31, 2017. For more information stop by the table in the narthex this weekend, or go to https://www.elections.virginia.gov/voter-outreach/.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles