December 29, 2013

December 29, 2013 Column Father De Celles

[Note, due to Christmas, this week’s bulletin deadline was December 20.]

Thanks. On behalf of the whole parish, I’d like to thank all those who have worked extra hard to make Advent and Christmas an extra special time in the parish. In particular the choir, cantors, musicians and Elisabeth Turco for all the beautiful music (very sorry y’all practiced so hard for Lessons & Carols and the snow canceled you out!). The Youth Group, especially for their work on Breakfast with Santa, all the volunteers who worked on the Senior Lunch (particularly Patty Miller). The Knights of Columbus, especially Grand Knight Mike Mullen, for all they did in so many ways, especially with the Christmas Trees and Christmas Cards. The various sacristans, especially Nena Brennan, for all their work in preparing the sanctuary for Masses. To the various ladies on our new flower committee, for all their hard work in decorating the church. To the ushers who helped make everything run so smoothly. To all those who contributed so much in time and treasure to the Giving Tree. To all those who assisted in special ways at the Mass, especially the altar boys (led by Mark Arbeen), lectors (led by Phil Bettwy), extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (led by Barbara Aldridge and Christine Spengler). A special thanks to our dedicated staff, Maria Ammirati, Mary Butler, Paul DeRosa, Patti Eckels, and Kirsti Tyson, who worked so hard to make everything come together so smoothly. And finally, most especially to my brother priests, Fr. Joseph Kenna, Fr. Paul Quang Nguyen and Fr. Jerry Daly, and also Fr. Paul Scalia, for their dedication in service to Our Lord and our parish. I know I’ve left out lots of groups and names that deserve special thanks; my apologies. Thank you all.

New Youth Director. This Monday, December 30, Jeanne Sause joins our parish as our new Director of the Youth Apostolate. I’m sure you will all welcome her with open arms. Sometime in the next few weeks, as things have settled down from Christmas etc., we will give her a more formal welcome. In the meantime, keep her in your prayers as she begins her service in the parish.

Year End Donations. If you are looking to make year end charitable donations I would recommend one of the following organizations: the Little Sisters of the Poor, Catholic Charities of Arlington, House of Mercy, Project Rachel, Gabriel Project, AAA Women for Choice (a pro-life group in Manassas), Mary’s Shelter (a shelter for pregnant women in crisis in Fredericksburg), the Poor Clares, and Angelus Academy. Also, one of my personal favorite charities is St. Dominic Monastery in Linden, VA, my dear cloistered Dominican sisters who pray for our parish daily. And of course, St. Raymond’s itself … still that big debt to pay off …

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

Blessed John Paul II, Homily for Solemnity of the Holy Family, December 31, 1978, (the first of his papacy)

The Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, that is, the present Sunday, unites, in the liturgy, the solemn memory of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph …

The family of Nazareth, which the Church, especially in today’s liturgy, puts before the eyes of all families, really constitutes that culminating point of reference for the holiness of every human family. The history of this Family is described very concisely in the pages of the Gospel. We get to know only a few events in its life. However what we learn is sufficient to be able to involve the fundamental moments in the life of every family, and to show that dimension, to which all men who live a family life are called: fathers, mothers, parents, children …

The deepest human problems are connected with the family. It constitutes the primary, fundamental and irreplaceable community for man. “The mission of being the primary vital cell of society has been given to the family by God himself”, the Second Vatican Council affirms. (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 11). The Church wishes to bear a particular witness to that too during the Octave of Christmas, by means of the feast of the Holy Family. She wishes to recall that the fundamental values, which cannot be violated without incalculable harm of a moral nature, are bound up with the family. Material perspectives and the “economico-social” point of view often prevail over the principles of Christian and even human morality. It is not enough, then, to express only regret. It is necessary to defend these fundamental values tenaciously and firmly, because their violation does incalculable harm to society and, in the last analysis, to man. No experience of the different nations in the history of mankind, as well as our contemporary experience, can serve as an argument to reaffirm this painful truth, that is, that it is easy, in the fundamental sphere of human existence in which the role of the family is decisive, to destroy essential values, while it is very difficult to reconstruct these values.

What are these values? If we had to answer this question adequately, it would be necessary to indicate the whole hierarchy and the set of values which define and condition one another. But trying to express ourself concisely, let us say that here it is a question of two fundamental values which fall strictly into the context of what we call “conjugal love”. The first of them is the value of the person which is expressed in absolute mutual faithfulness until death: the faithfulness of the husband to his wife and of the wife to her husband. The consequence of this affirmation of the value of the person, which is expressed in the mutual relationship between husband and wife, must also be respect for the personal value of the new life, that is, of the child, from the first moment of his conception.

The Church can never dispense herself from the obligation of guarding these two fundamental values, connected with the vocation of the family. Custody of them was entrusted to the Church by Christ, in such a way as leaves no doubt. At the same time, the self-evidence of these values—humanly understood— is such that the Church, defending them, sees herself as the spokesman of true human dignity: of the good of the person, of the family, of the nations.

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

Anno Domini 2014. As we look forward to the beginning of the New Year of the Lord 2014, may the Christ Child shower you with His grace, may His Blessed Mother Mary keep you in her tender embrace, and may St. Joseph protect you in all you do. Blessed and Merry Christmas, and Holy and Happy New Year!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles