Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

May 16, 2015 Column Father De Celles

Ascension of the Lord. Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, the day in history, 40 days after Easter, that Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended body and soul into heaven. This great finale to the paschal mystery, along with the bodily death and resurrection of Jesus, has many and profound ramifications for us today. Perhaps most urgent is the reminder of the great dignity and profound meaning of the human body: that the body is not merely an empty shell temporarily inhabited by our souls, but rather it is part of who we are, that part that communicates ourselves to others. As St. John Paul II used to say so often: “the body speaks!” The words of our mouth talk to others, our hands express our creativity and helpfulness, our feet take us to be with family and friends, etc. Nowadays people especially forget that our bodies communicate our sexuality—our maleness and femaleness— and through that express our openness to the self-gift (of body and soul) of marital and paternal love.  In a time of great confusion surrounding sexuality, “gender,” marriage and family, we need to open our eyes to the most basic, simple and common sense lessons our bodies teach us.


Gender and Fairfax Schools. Last Thursday evening, May 7, hundreds of taxpayers, including many of our parishioners (thank you!), attended the Fairfax County School Board meeting to voice their strong opposition to the Board’s proposal to add “gender identity” to their non-discrimination policy, (i.e., forcing little Suzy to change in a locker room next to little Johnny if Johnny says he thinks he’s a girl). Apparently many of the school board members were openly arrogant and condescending toward the crowd, as they despite overwhelming and vocal opposition of the crowd, voted 10-1 in favor of the proposal (Elizabeth Schultz cast the only opposing vote; Patty Reed abstained from the vote, but also voiced opposition and tried to get the vote postponed). So much for representative government in action.

But there’s more! At the May 7 meeting board members assured the crowd that nothing would change after the vote. But just 4 days later, on May 11, the School Board released the Family Life Education (FLE) committee report recommending the addition of the Gender Identity Agenda down to middle school students in 7th grade. The report also announces that parents will not be able to opt out of these lessons because they will be moved out of the FLE and into mental health sections of the school curriculum. The report goes on to state: “Sexual orientation and gender identity terms will be discussed with focus on appreciation for individual differences.”

Once again I ask you to voice your objections by emailing the school board members at I also encourage you to remember this on Election Day, this coming November 3rd. And finally, I encourage you to prayerfully consider whether the Lord might be calling you to run for election to the board yourself (there is still time if you act quickly). As we read in today’s Gospel: “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.’” And as we read in Isaiah: “The Lord [said], “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Once again, thanks to parishioner Mychele Brickner (former school board member) for keeping us up to date. Please feel free to contact her with questions –


Let There Be Light! Lately people have been telling me how dark the church seems to be during Mass. They are correct: many of the lights, including most of the spot lights that illuminate the sanctuary, are out and need to be replaced. But that’s not because we haven’t noticed it, or because we’ve been lazy in our maintenance.

Long story short, the light “bulbs” that the current fixtures require are expensive and have a very limited life, averaging about two years, so they are not very cost effective. Besides that, many of the fixtures themselves seem to be faulty. And finally, because our ceiling is so high we can’t reach them without scaffolding, which is both very expensive and inconvenient: we have to close the church at least from Monday to Friday.

Because of all this, about 3 years ago we began working with the Diocesan construction office exploring possible alternatives to the current lighting set up. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of companies who do this sort of specialized work (high ceilings, etc.), and when we did find them, let’s just say we have not been very happy with their proposals. Essentially, there is new technology that would greatly extend the life of the “bulbs” (from 2 years to 10 or 15), as well as give us brighter and more energy efficient lighting. The problem is, it would cost at least $250,000  to install this new equipment. The parish finance committee and I agree that, especially considering our outstanding $1.3 million debt,  we should postpone any upgrades and work with the existing fixtures, i.e., we will replace the bulbs at a cost of about $25,000 (based on our costs 4 years ago). I’m hoping that in another two years’ time (about the time we pay off the debt), the cost of this new technology would become more reasonable and we might be able make a more permanent fix to this problem.

We plan to do the work this summer. I’ll give you ample warning before we get started. Pray that all goes well, and that we will eventually find a more permanent and affordable fix to this problem.


Year End for College Students. I want to extend my most sincere congratulations to all of our parishioners who are graduating from college/university this month. Having spent over 10 years in college and graduate schools myself, I’m sure you are very happy, proud and relieved to have achieved this milestone. We’re all proud of you, and pray for you as you move on to the new challenges that await you.

I also want to welcome home all of the college students coming home for the summer. I look forward to seeing you around the church. Please keep your eye on the bulletin for various opportunities available to deepen your faith life over the summer, as well as social opportunities that will come up here in the parish and at nearby parishes.

Car Raffle Winners! I’m very pleased to report that two of our parishioners were winners in the “All Saints’ 5-Car Raffle” sponsored here at St. Raymond’s by our Knights of Columbus. One family won the GMC Sierra Truck and another won the Honda Odyssey Van! 2 out of 5 ain’t bad! Although, I still can’t figure how I didn’t win. Oh well. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to the Knights for their hard work in selling tickets, and for the check for $7,913 (50% of the net profit from sales) that will go to pay off the parish debt.


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles