Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

January 11, 2020 Column Father De Celles

Christmas Ends, But… Today we end the season of Christmas. But as this special liturgical celebration of Christmas ends, the celebration of the essence and meaning of Christmas must continue. By that I don’t mean the secular or sentimental celebration of Christmas, but rather the celebration of the fact that the eternal God the Son condescended to be born a vulnerable baby, in order that He may enter fully into our human life, and by His human life, death and resurrection transform that life. Christ came to change us, so let’s allow Him to change our lives, and go into this new year recommitted to truly love Him and our neighbor as He taught and showed us, to live the life of grace, hope, faith and love. The life of Jesus Christ, who came to us on Christmas day to change us and to remain with us throughout the year, and all our lives.

March for Life. On Friday, January 24, hundreds of thousands of Christians and other people of goodwill will participate in the 47th annual “March for Life” on the Mall in Washington, commemorating the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade creating the so-called “right to abortion.” Perhaps no court decision or legislation has so directly and fundamentally had such a wide and terrible effect on our nation. And not only in the devastation of 60 million or so babies it has killed, or the millions of mothers whose lives it has ruined. But also in its shaping of our American culture into a culture that degrades human life more and more every day, transforming human beings from persons whose lives have value and meaning in themselves into things that have value and meaning only to the extent other persons who have power over them chose to give them.
Some people tell us we should not talk about this, or at least not talk about it so much, or so loudly or so vehemently. But how can we be silent, when we remember that it is all intimately related to the radicalness of God’s love and His commandment to love our neighbor.
On January 24 four busloads of St. Raymond parishioners will drive down to the Mall to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Life, including the Lord’s call to all of us to love our neighbor, even if our neighbor is a tiny unborn baby. Please join us. Sign-up sheets for the bus are located in the narthex of the Church today.

Snow Team: HELP! We need some strong, able-bodied folks to help us clean up during snow season. The Snow Team works with Tom Browne, our Plant Manager, to clear and de-ice the sidewalks and paved walkways around the property during ice and snow events. Equipment is provided; sidewalks and aprons must be cleared no less than 30 minutes before the first Mass of the day (and as needed thereafter). This is a paid position, but we will also happily accept volunteers. For more information or to apply, please contact Tom Browne at the Parish Office.

Parish Volunteers. I’ve always said that one of the best ways to grow in your Catholic faith is to become active in some parish group or committee. It may not be as essential as receiving the Sacraments or reading the Scriptures or studying the Catechism, but getting involved in parish activities can be a great way to discover the meaning of Christian service, as well as the support of your fellow parishioners. I know when I was a 20-something year-old Catholic lay man that was an important factor contributing to the deepening my faith. Sometimes the Church, and even the parish, can seem so huge and impersonal. But by being involved in a particular small group or activity of the parish you can really become involved in the life of the whole parish. Not only does this create a personal and familial sense of belonging, but it also draws you deeper into the life of the whole parish and the whole Church—you meet more people, make more good Catholic friends and you learn about more opportunities to serve and to be served.
So, once again, I encourage you to resolve to take a more active part in the life of our parish, and to do so as did the Lord Jesus, who “came to serve, not to be served.” Resolve to become a committed volunteer for one or more activities or groups in the parish.
Many St. Raymond parishioners have a strong history of committed volunteerism (God bless you!). Sometimes, however, this causes others (especially newcomers) to think that their help isn’t needed. But the reality is just the opposite: we constantly need fresh ideas, younger muscles, new voices, etc.. And we can’t grow or improve if we don’t have more help! So I encourage folks who aren’t committed to some volunteer parish activity now to do so in 2020, especially those who are newer to our parish. And I encourage those of you who are volunteers already to invite other parishioners you meet to join you!
I know everybody’s busy, and many of you are already serving the Lord in many ways outside of the parish. But as we begin this New Year, I beg you to think and pray seriously about the specific ways you can volunteer in our parish.

Flu Season and the Sign of Peace. Flu and cold season is heavily upon us, so I encourage all of you to be very careful in taking precautions not to catch or spread germs. In this regard, I remind you of our parish policy regarding the exchange of the Sign of Peace, and encourage you to practice at all times, but especially during this hazardous season. The description of the exchange of the Sign of Peace is found in the inside cover of the missalettes, but, briefly:
When the priest says, “Let us offer each other the Sign of Peace,” rather than exchange a handshake or a hug, each congregant is asked to: turn only to the person on their immediate left and right (so, only 2 people), perhaps with folded hands, and give a slight bow of the head or shoulders (much like the servers and priests bow to each so often at the altar). Remember to wait for the other person to turn to you, so you can bow to each other. Although all are asked to cooperate, charity rules, so no one should be criticized if they chose not to adopt this form.

Christmas Food Containers at the Rectory. Thanks again to all those who brought food (cookies, candies, etc.) to the rectory over Christmas. Many of you brought these to us in very nice containers that you may want back. If that includes you, please come by the rectory office this week to claim your container.

Oremus pro invicem! Fr. De Celles