Feast of the Baptism of The Lord

January 10, 2016 Column Father De Celles

Merry Christmas. Today we come to the end of the Season of Christmas. It sometimes seems strange that we keep celebrating so long after December 25, especially when the whole world seems to completely forget about Christmas by New Year’s Day. In times gone by, of course, it wasn’t that way. When most of our ancestors lived in countries/regions/neighborhoods that were predominantly Catholic and the culture around them was imbued with Catholic traditions, even the houses remained decorated until the end of the Christmas season, which used to last until February 2. Now, obviously, all that has changed, and not for the better. But God can bring great things out of this change. Because it can remind us that Christmas is not just about the big celebration of the “Birthday of the Baby Jesus,” with all its presents and foods etc.. It’s also about what that birthday means to the world: that God the Son entered the world 2000 years ago, and remains with us “always, even until the end of time.” And that we must live everyday believing that, and acting on it, letting it permeate every moment of every day, even the ordinary things of ordinary days, as St. Paul tells us, “in season and out of season.”


This Week’s Outstanding Pro-Marriage Speaker. In all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, I’ve neglected to talk much about the brilliant, engaging and dynamic speaker coming to our parish this Thursday, January 14, at 7:30pm (in the parish hall), Dr. Ryan Anderson, who will discuss his most recent book: “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.”

Dr. Anderson is the William E. Simon senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, and founder and editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, N.J. He is a graduate of Princeton University and has a doctorate in political philosophy from the University of Notre Dame.

He first came to national prominence 3 years ago when he co-authored (along with Sherif Girgis), “What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense,” with America’s most influential lay Catholic intellectual, Professor Robert George of Princeton. According to Amazon, the book was 2012’s “most widely read essay on the most prominent scholarly network in the social sciences.… cited and debated by scholars and activists throughout the world as the most formidable defense of the tradition ever written.”

Since then you’ve probably seen him on ABC, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, or Fox News Channel, or read his columns in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard or National Review—or maybe scholarly publications like the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Harvard Health Policy Review, First Things and Claremont Review of Books.

In November, over 700 parishioners and visitors came out to here Archbishop Cordileone’s talk on this subject from a theological and Catholic perspective, and I hope that many of you will join us on the 14th as we continue this very important discussion, now focusing more on a philosophical perspective and ramifications for civil society.


Cordileone Online. Speaking of Archbishop Cordileone’s talk, if you missed it you can now listen to it online. Go to our website, and near the top of the homepage click, “Click Here To Listen To Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s Talk on “Marriage: The Foundation of a Civilization Built on Truth and Love.”


New Parish Chalice. At Christmas Midnight Mass I was very pleased to bless a beautiful new parish chalice which we then used at all the Masses of Christmas Day, Holy Family Sunday, Mary Mother of God, and Epiphany Sunday. This unique chalice is over 100 years old, and hand-tooled of silver with gold plating.  It is adorned with colorful enamel portraits of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and Faith, Hope and Charity, as well as semi-precious stones and intricate gold filigree. We plan to use this precious vessel only on the great feasts of the year, (Christmas, Holy Thursday, Easter, etc.). It is truly a vessel fit to show our love and adoration of our Lord’s Most Precious Blood. Thanks to the 3 parish families who donated most of the funds to make this purchase.


Sunday Confessions. Recently I received some complaints about Sunday morning confessions—“they’re not long enough,” “we need more priests,” etc.. I understand these concerns, but I’m afraid can’t do much about them.

Please remember that we have only 2 priests assigned to the parish, and usually one of them is offering Mass, and sometimes the other is unavailable due to illness, vacation, etc.. Also, sometimes a priest will start confessions late (less than 30 minutes before Mass) because his other obligations have detained him (including greeting parishioners after Mass). In any case, even when confessions start late, confessions should normally end once Mass has begun (occasionally the priest may extend this, but never later than the start of the Gospel).

Also, while all are welcome, these confession times are provided specifically to meet the genuine needs of those who truly cannot attend on other days. This means you should not plan to go to confession on Sunday merely because it is more convenient than some other day/time, or to make a merely devotional confession, but rather because you can’t go on another day and there is a real need (whatever that need might be). Of course, if the line is short….

Thank you for your patience, and for going to confession!


Practical Advice on Receiving Communion. We all get distracted and a little careless, even at Mass. So it seems prudent for me to gently remind folks, every so often, about the proper way to receive Holy Communion.

If you take Communion in the hand, please remember to be guided by the wise custom of the Church: Place your left hand flat on top of your right hand, keeping your eyes on the Host; never extend only one hand, hold your hands at an angle or grab at the Host (Hosts are often dropped in these cases). Then, immediately step a few feet to the side and carefully take the Host in your right hand and place It in your mouth (the priest must be able to see you consume It). Then, as you walk away, carefully examine your hands and consume any crumbs present.

If you receive on the tongue, please observe these customary practices: First, stand close enough so the priest can easily reach you, but not too close. Then, open your mouth and extend your tongue slightly over your lower lip so the priest can safely place the Host on your tongue (don’t just open your mouth and expect the priest to drop the Host inside). Then, do not move—stay still!–until the Host is on your tongue and the priest’s fingers have moved away: do not lurch or otherwise move your mouth or tongue to snap up the Host—this is a great way to either drop the Host or to bite/lick the priest’s fingers. In sum: move close enough, open your mouth, put out your tongue, and do not move.


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles