Labor Day, End of Summer. This weekend our nation celebrates “Labor Day.” For some, this weekend is merely the end of Summer. But for many Americans it’s a celebration of the hard work of so many Americans that has made our nation so successful in so many ways. We should rightly celebrate this, as “work” is one of the original gifts given to Man by God, as He gave Adam and Eve dominion (“lordship”) over all the earth and commanded them: “fill the earth and subdue it.” That “subduing” of the earth is the work/labor of Man, who was created in the image of the Creator. Man shares in God’s creative work by his labor, and when he works in ways consistent with God’s will, he grows in holiness.
Often, however, we don’t work in ways consistent with God’s will. Too often we work motivated by envy or greed. Sometimes we deceive or cheat our customers, co-workers, employers or employees. Sometimes we don’t give an honest day’s work for our wages, or we don’t pay fair wages to our workers. Sometimes we work too much and neglect our family and God, and sometimes we force our employees to do that. Some neglect work to engage in criminal activities or simple dependence on governments. Of course, some are retired after years of hard work, and some can’t work for good reason—God bless them, and may they work in whatever way they can (volunteering, assisting friends, etc.) so that they may always participate in God’s creative work!
This weekend Sunday Mass attendance will be low, as many families take one last summer getaway to rest from their labor. Good for them (as they go to Mass wherever they are!). But let us who are here today remember and praise God for the dignity of the gift He’s given us, and rededicate our work to Him, and His holy will.
Parish Picnic. I invite all of you to join me and your fellow parishioners and guests for our annual parish picnic, next Sunday, September 11, from 1pm to 4pm, behind the church. There will be pony rides, moon bounce, a clown and games for the kids, and lots of good food and drink. But most of all there will be good fellowship, that is so important and such a great fruit of our Catholic faith, especially here at St. Raymond’s. So come out and have some fun visiting with old friends and making new ones. I especially encourage new parishioners to attend: it’s a great way to meet people and get involved. But I also encourage “old” parishioners to attend: it’s a great way to help the new folks become part of our parish, not to mention strengthen old friendships.
By the way…. This year the picnic on “9/11.” Although for many, including myself, this day holds many dark memories, I agree with those who say that this day should not be simply a day of mourning, but also of celebrating and thanking God for the many gifts he’s given us in America, especially the great gift of our liberty.
St. Teresa of Kolkata (Calcutta). Today in Rome Pope Francis will canonize “Mother Teresa,” so she will now be called “Saint Teresa.” I’m sure this is a joy to all of us, as so many of us were so profoundly inspired by her living example of Christ-like holiness during our own lifetimes. St. Teresa dedicated her whole adult to serving “the poorest of the poor,” beginning in the slums of Calcutta/Kolkata, India. In 1950 she founded the Missionaries of Charity, an order of sisters now numbering almost 5000 worldwide. Besides her love and care for the poor and sick, she was also known for her tender love for Jesus (especially in the Eucharist), her bold proclamation of orthodox Catholic doctrine, and her strong defense of the unborn. As she was famous for saying: “Unborn children are among the poorest of the poor,” and, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
I had the blessing of meeting St. Teresa when I was a deacon in 1995. Long and amazing story short, I met her in the sacristy after a Mass in, of all places, San Francisco. She took my hand in hers, and when I told her I would be ordained a priest in 5 months she looked into my eyes and said, “Then be a good and holy priest.” I pray every day that I may, through her intercession, one day live up to her instruction. St. Teresa of Kolkata, pray for us.
“When Will We Have a New Bishop?” How many times have I been asked that in the last few weeks? The answer is: only God and a few people in Rome know. As you know, Bishop Loverde tendered his resignation to the Pope last September 3, on his 75th birthday, as required by Canon Law. But he remains our Bishop until Pope Francis accepts his resignation and appoints a new Bishop.
So it’s been a whole year now, and no word from Rome. That is actually not at all uncommon: under the last few popes, bishops often continued in place 2 or 3 years after they turned 75. Even so, Pope Francis has been relatively quick to appoint new bishops: he usually does so before the “old” bishop turns 76. At this time there are only 2 reigning bishops over 76, and Bishop Loverde (who just turned 76 on Saturday) is one of them.
So… “when will we have a new Bishop?” My guess is “very soon.” But who knows? Arlington is a difficult See to fill, due to its important location just outside of Washington, DC, and because it is such a unique diocese (growth, wealth, culture, vibrant Catholic life, etc.). In the meantime, I encourage you to pray for the Pope and the men he has entrusted in helping him pick our new Bishop. The Holy Spirit guides them in this process, but sometimes men get distracted and fail to hear Him. So continue to pray every day—especially the Rosary—that God may give us a good and holy Bishop to succeed our good Bishop Loverde.
Congratulations and Thanks. A quick word of congratulations to Monica Montanaro, our parish secretary, who was married to Joe Lyons here at St. Raymond’s on August 20. I also want join Monica in thanking the many parishioners who helped with all the wedding festivities. As she and Joe wrote me this week from their honeymoon, in speaking of this help, we “have never heard of such a beloved and cared-for bride.”
Monica will return to the office later this month, but will probably be leaving us in a few months after Joe completes training for his new job. May the Lord bless them and make them happy together in this life and the life to come.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles