August 26, 2012

August 26, 2012 Column Father De Celles

Change in Weekday Morning Mass Times. Several months ago I announced I was considering moving the weekday 9:00AM Mass to earlier in the morning, and asked for feedback. Since that time I have received scores of responses, for and against. After much careful consideration and prayer I have decided to change the Mass time, Monday through Friday, from 9:00AM to 8:00AM. The change will be effective Monday, September 10. The 6:30AM Mass stays as before and Saturday Mass will remain at 9AM (at least for the time being.)

The main reason for the change is that it allows for an earlier “start” of the day for many people, including the priests. And when I speak of “the priests” I am not speaking of a purely selfish motive, since an earlier start will help make our “work day” more efficient and productive as we serve all of you.

While I know many people will be happy with this change, I also know others will not be so happy: for some it may mean not being able to attend daily Mass, or having to go to another church for Mass (St. Bernadette’s, Our Lady of Angels, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. Lawrence all have 9am Mass). I’m sorry for any inconvenience this creates, but I trust you will be understanding and supportive of my decision.

Parish Seminarians. As many of you know, St. Raymond’s has two young men studying to be priests for the Diocese of Arlington: Mr. Nicolas Barnes (entering 4th year Theology at the North American College in Rome) and Mr. Jacob McCrumb (entering 2nd Pre-Theology at the Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio). Although both of them have been in town this summer they have been kept very busy serving at other parishes, until this week when they have been able to spend some time with us, serving Mass and having lunch with me. As we become more acutely aware of the need for vocations, and the need for us to pray for vocations, we also need to be encouraging of these young men who have answered the call and to keep them in our prayers as they prepare to return to their studies in the coming weeks.

Last week Mr. Barnes gave me some wonderful news: he has received the official “call to orders” from Bishop Loverde. This means he will be ordained to the diaconate (deacon) in Rome on October 2. This also means that, barring some serious cause, he should be ordained a priest next June here in Arlington. I’m sure you all share my joy in this news, and will keep him in your prayers in a special way.

Ordination to the diaconate is clearly an important event for any man as it gives them the sacramental grace of Holy Orders to serve the Church in a unique way. But for men preparing for the priesthood it takes on at least 2 other unique features: 1) it teaches them (and gives them the grace) to always be a servant when they become a priest (the word “deacon” comes from the Greek word for “servant”); 2) it is at the Mass of diaconal ordination that they make their lifelong promise to both be obedient to their bishop and to live a celibate life. This latter promise, of celibacy, is both a gift they give to Christ and the Church, and a gift that Christ and the Church gives to them. To live always as “single-hearted” for the Lord and His Bride is key to their ministry and identity as they prepare to imitate Christ who gave himself totally to and for His Bride.

Beyond our prayers for Mr. Barnes I would like to propose that we now prepare a special tangible gift anticipating his ordination to the priesthood. In particular, I know he is planning to purchase a special vestment for his first Mass, and I would like the parish to purchase this vestment for him. He will pick the vestment (and it’s ancillary accoutrements) himself, perhaps even designing and having it made to order. If you would like to be included in this gift you can do so by putting your contribution in an envelope marked “Mr. Nicholas Barnes Vestment” (or some such) and either dropping in the Sunday collection basket or mailing it to the rectory (checks payable to “St. Raymond’s”). If contributions exceed the price of the vestment, that excess will be presented, in cash, to Mr. Barnes at his priestly ordination.

Rep. Paul Ryan’s Bishop. Last week I wrote about Paul Ryan’s joining the Republican party’s ticket as nominee for Vice-President, and of the novelty of having 2 Catholics running against each other for the 2nd highest office in the land (Vice-President Joe Biden is also a Catholic). I also mentioned how some would wrongly attack Ryan for not supporting the social justice teachings of the Church.

This week two prominent bishops came to Ryan’s defense. First Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York gave a radio interview in which he called Ryan a “great public servant” and quoted from a letter he had written to Ryan: “let me applaud…your call for financial accountability and restraint and a balanced budget . . . and . . . let me also applaud your obvious solicitude for the poor.” While the Cardinal disagrees with some of the Congressman’s positions, he acknowledged: “Once again it comes down to that prudential judgment.” If we agree a basic good has to be defended or achieved, we are free to disagree on how best to achieve that good and still remain good Catholics.

The second defense was perhaps more important, as it came from Ryan’s own Bishop, Bishop Robert Morlino. Bishop Morlino took the unusual step of issuing a letter in which he wrote:

“…it is not up to me or any bishop or priest to approve of Congressman Ryan’s specific budget prescription to address the best means [to protect the poor]. Where intrinsic evils are not involved, specific policy choices and political strategies are the province of Catholic lay mission. But, as I’ve said, Vice Presidential Candidate Ryan is aware of Catholic Social Teaching and is very careful to fashion and form his conclusions in accord with the principles mentioned above. Of that I have no doubt. (I mention this matter in obedience to Church Law regarding one’s right to a good reputation.)”

Like Bishop Morlino, I maintain that it “is not for the bishop or priests to endorse particular candidates or political parties.” And like Cardinal Dolan, I am “not trying to be an apologist” for Mr. Ryan. I’m just tired of people attacking this good Catholic man with false accusations, while at the same time pretending that Mr. Biden is a “good Catholic,” even though he strongly supports such terrible “intrinsic evils” as abortion, contraception, “gay marriage,” and attacks on the religious freedom of Catholics.

May God bless both Mr. Ryan and Mr. Biden. And may they be the best of Catholics, and the best of Americans.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles