February 5, 2024 Column Father De Celles

Asian Fusion: Absolutely Fantastic. Well, if you missed the Asian Fusion Dinner last Saturday evening you missed a very exceptional evening. The food was great and copious, representing the flavors of the various Asian cultures represented in the parish, especially Filipino (I won’t list them all, lest I leave someone out inadvertently). And the place was packed with a sold out (beforehand) crowd of over 200, including lots of folks who don’t normally come to our parish dinners. Thanks to Knights of Columbus and their spouses for organizing things, especially Genevieve and Doug Maines. And thanks to all the cooks and bakers who prepared the many delicious foods. I can’t tell you how pleased I was and how much I personally enjoyed myself.

My Perspective: “Multiculturalism.” I come from San Antonio, where I grew up with a unique and strong mix of cultures, mainly generic American, Texan, and Mexican, but with heavy doses of Military, Baptist, Catholic, Bavarian and Polish cultures mixed in. So I love to experience different cultures. But I also love my own “culture”—which is a blend of all of the above, sort of, along with the remnants of my ancestral French-Canadian culture. Moving to Northern Virginia in 1991 that Generic-American/Texan/Mexican/French-Canadian culture was expanded quite a bit with all the various new cultures that I came into contact with in parishes. And, given my background, I have come to enjoy and respect the many positive aspects of these cultures, and deeply appreciate the contribution they make to our broader American culture.

Friends, I look at my own culture this way: first, I’m Catholic, and then I’m American, and then I’m that person with the wide-ranging background of cultures I’ve grown up in.

I think it’s a great and essential thing that we have all the cultures we have, and the heritage they represent. They make us who we are.

But first, we need to be Catholic—with a culture centered on Christ and His Church. And then, we need to be American, with a culture which I perceive as being founded on British culture, with its emphasis on natural rights and duties, self-control and self-governance, moderation, the work-ethic, law-abiding citizenship, and peaceful disagreement. And recognizing that this culture has been heavily influenced by aspects of the various European cultures, and to a lesser but real extent by the various ethnic cultures of the citizenry, effected by the many different waves of immigration, forced (sadly) or unforced.

Given that, over the last few decades I’ve come to recognize what I consider to be a huge problem with what has become known as “multiculturalism.” I know this term means many different things to different people. But as a representative of a powerful Catholic institution said at a meeting last year, the institutional meaning is this: multi-culturalism means “non-white.”

I find that perspective repugnant, not to mention un-American and un-Catholic. It is a form of soft bigotry, unjustly prejudicial against both “whites” and “nonwhites,” and ultimately leads to intercultural hatred, segregation, and even violence.

My children in Christ, I have never wanted this to infect our parish family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, and share a common patriotic union in being one nation under God. Each of us personally act, think and look uniquely different from each other; our group backgrounds, including our cultures, are also different. But we are able to live and love together because we are all human beings created in the image of God, and that is what makes us most special and most united. And in that context, we are Catholics, baptized into the one life of Jesus. The rest—the differences—are important, but way secondary.

Considering all this, I have always tried to avoid the divisive notion of “multiculturalism.” So we pray the liturgy emphasizing our common Catholic traditions, recognizing these are influenced by the European, Roman and Jewish roots of the Church. We speak English because that is the common language of our country, and Latin because that is the common language of our Church.

But we also recognize and need to appreciate  the cultures we bring to the table. Sometimes I say “y’all,” “howdy” or “bueno,” and when I’m tired, my Tex-Mex drawl/pronunciation comes out. And I love the beef of Texas and the tamales of San Antonio. But it’s good to see all the different skin tones, to hear all the different accents, to taste all the delicious foods, and learn about the traditions, as well as the many struggles, of all the many different cultures you all bring to our parish.

In short:

“…Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…that there be no divisions among you…” [1 Cor 1:10]. 

“There is no longer Jew or Greek…for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” [Gal 3:28].

“Holy Father, protect them …so that they may be one, as we are one” [John 17: 11].

Virginia March for Life. We’re taking a bus down to Richmond on Wednesday, February 21. See details below under “SAINT RAYMOND’S RESPECTS LIFE.” I hope to see you in Richmond!

Good for CUA Across the River! From The Daily Signal, Jan. 30:

“Catholic University …has terminated the contract of the professor who invited a self-declared ‘abortion doula’ to speak to students about coaching women through abortions and ‘pregnant men’ through a ‘seahorse birth.’

“Catholic University President Peter Kilpatrick announced to students on Jan. 30 that …’In our rigorous pursuit of truth and justice, we engage at times with arguments or ideologies contrary to reason or to the Gospel…But we do so fully confident in the clarity given by the combined lights of reason and faith, and we commit to never advocate for sin or to give moral equivalence to error….’

“‘Here at Catholic University, we have the unique opportunity and common blessing to pursue truth, to grow in faith, and to exercise charity,’ he added. ‘Our studies aim at producing wisdom, which includes excellence in living and sharing the truth with others. May our common study help us to understand life, to love goodness, and to promote and protect the dignity of the human person.’

“Felipe Avila, 20 [a student at the lecture], told The Daily Signal …’The fundamental point is to understand human development from conception to natural death, right? And they brought in someone who counsels women to terminate life.’

“Psychology lecturer Melissa Goldberg ….invited the doula, Rachel Carbonneau, to address her class, titled Psychology 379: Lifespan Development. The term doula usually refers to a professional who provides physical and emotional support to a woman before, during, and shortly after childbirth. …Carbonneau identified herself to the class as an ‘abortion doula’ … [She is] The founder and CEO of the LGBTQ-aligned doula company Family Ways …

“…Carbonneau began ‘using terms like birthing persons [and] pregnant person.’ The lecturer was ‘very strategic in avoiding the word ‘woman’’… ‘We work with trans clients,’ Carbonneau told students…When discussing the stigma of ‘pregnant men,’ Carbonneau urged students to ‘normalize’ the discussion of women who identify as men giving birth.”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles