Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time, Solemnity of All Saints

October 31, 2015 Column Father De Celles

Bishops’ Synod. Well, the meeting in Rome of over 270 bishops from around the world is over. It was perhaps the most contentious meeting of bishops in the last 50 years as various bishops and cardinals, a minority of those present, argued to change the Church’s approach to some important issues related to marriage and family. Some of them merely argued for a change in what they saw as Church discipline, but some, sadly, advocated changes that would contradict unchangeable and infallible Church doctrine. In the end, though, the overwhelming majority of the Bishops approved a final report (a list of recommendations to the Pope) that reaffirmed and reiterated traditional doctrine.

Unfortunately, the report also included some very ambiguous language that, although not wrong in itself, will certainly become fodder for more confusion in the Church. Of course, the media immediately picked up on this language and twisted it to argue that great changes had been proposed by the bishops. But what have I always told you: do not believe the media when it talks about the Church. They don’t like us, and they lie about us.

I’m not happy about ambiguous language in a Church document—it can confuse good people and easily become the tool of dissent. But since this particular document has no teaching authority whatsoever, I’m not overwrought about its woolly language. And you should not be confused by it: the rule in reading any ambiguous statement of the Church (as Pope Benedict XVI so beautifully explained so often) is to always read it as being consistent with and supporting of previous clear magisterial teaching and doctrine.

So, nothing’s changed. Be at peace. And continue to pray.


ALL SAINTS. Today is All Saints’ Day, a feast that reminds us of our unity with the Church in Heaven. Throughout the year we celebrate the feasts of particular persons whom, because of their manifestly holy and heroic lives on Earth, the Church officially recognizes as now living in Heaven, i.e. the people we normally refer to as “saints” (or “canonized saints”). But on this ALL Saints’ Day we remember not only those “official” saints, but also ALL the other countless numbers of souls who have gone to Heaven. For example, many of our deceased mothers and fathers are in Heaven, as well as so many little children who have gone before us. This is their feast day! So we honor them, and in honoring them we honor God Himself, who has given them a share of His glory. And we pray to them, asking the whole multitude in Heaven to assist us on our way to join them.


ALL SOULS. Tomorrow, Monday, November 2, is the Commemoration of All Souls, dedicated to praying for all the souls who are awaiting entrance into Heaven as they are being purified in Purgatory, especially our loved ones. I invite you all to pray for the dead every day, but especially on this day and throughout the month of November. Even though this is not a Holy Day of Obligation, all are encouraged to attend Mass. Because of this we will add an extra Mass tomorrow, Monday, at 7pm (the choir will join us).


Local Elections This Tuesday. This Tuesday, November 3, Virginia voters will go to the polls to elect our state and local officials, including state senators and delegates, as wells as county supervisors, sheriffs and school board members. Remember, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2239-2240) teaches us: “[C]o-responsibility for the common good make[s] it morally obligatory …to exercise the right to vote ….”

With all the foolishness in government in the last few years it would be easy to be discouraged from voting. But we can’t have that attitude, because voting matters. And it is clear that this coming election will be all about turnout; off-year elections like this have a dramatically low level of voting, so every voter that does go out is all that much more important.

So vote. And vote like a Catholic: vote pro-life, pro-traditional marriage and family, and pro-religious liberty. (And if you are not eligible to vote, encourage your Catholic and Christian friends and family members to vote, and to vote wisely.)

And vote to defend the rights of parents to raise and teach their children as they see fit, not as the government mandates. In this regard my attention is especially focused on the election of members of the Fairfax County Public School Board, who last year so blatantly disregarded the will and voices of parents and imposed their own false vision of sexuality on our children. This shall not stand!

A few weeks ago I wrote here that while I cannot publicly endorse any candidate, as your Spiritual Father I can share some important facts with you. Let me repeat some facts here. First, with the exception of Elizabeth Schultz and Patty Reed, all the other candidates who are running for re-election to the Fairfax County Public School Board, voted for the FCPSB’s new pro-gender-identity policies [very bad].  Second, several new candidates for the “At Large” positions on the Board (i.e., we can vote for all three of these if we choose) have stated their opposition to the pro-gender-identity policy, including: Bob Copeland, Jeanette Hough, and Manar Jean-Jacques. Third, in the races for districts nearest to St. Raymond’s the following candidates have stated their opposition to the pro-gender-identity policy: in the Springfield District, Elizabeth Schultz; in the Mt. Vernon District, Anthony Stacy; in the Providence District, Patty Reed; and in the Sully District, Tom Wilson.


Today is also “Vocation Awareness Sunday.” God is calling many of our young men and women—members of our families—to the special vocations of priesthood or religious life. It is so easy for young people to resist this call. It can be a demanding life, but no more demanding than the life of a spouse and parent, and it brings with it so many rewards in this life and the life to come. And there is nothing better than to live one’s life knowing that you are doing what God has called you to do.

I encourage all of our young people to pray and consider if God is calling you to one of these special vocations. And I strongly encourage all families to help their children or siblings in pursuing this call. It is a great blessing to have a priest or friar or a nun in the family. Don’t push, just encourage and support.

Let us pray also for all those discerning a vocation to priesthood or religious life, especially those in our own families and our parish. Remember particularly our parishioners who are already in formation, including Teri Tolpa (Sisters for Life), and James Waalkes (Arlington seminarian).


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles