Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Vocations. We are very honored to have Fr. J.D. Jaffe, the
Vocations Director of our Diocese, preach at all of our Masses
today. I’m convinced we have many vocations to the
priesthood and the religious life in our parish, we have such
great and talented kids, so many of whom are genuinely
devout. Have you talked to your kids about their vocation,
whether to the married, priestly or religious life? Have you
encouraged them to think and pray about the possibility of
becoming a priest or a nun? Or if you’re a young man or
woman, have you spent time trying to discern this possibility
in your life? If not, why not?
Vocations have been on my mind a lot in the last few
weeks. First because I was delighted to hear that our
parishioner Anilia Rivera, a student at Ave Maria University
and daughter of parishioners Ben and Ileana Rivera, has been
accepted to begin postulancy with the Religious order of the
Servants of the Lord. With her parents’ encouragement, she
has been discerning her vocations for several years. Let us
assist her with our prayers, and other forms of encouragement.
In particular, you might want to consider some financial
assistance: since religious life involves a vow of poverty,
before she can enter her postulancy (the first step in becoming
a “Sister”), she must first pay off her student loans. If you
would like to help her in this effort, please go to: https://
A less happy reason for my thinking so much about
vocations is that in the last three weeks we’ve heard that one
of our diocesan priests is moving to another diocese, and two
others have taken leaves of absence to discern their future. I
hope you will join me in praying for each of these men. But
their departure, hopefully temporary, reminds us of the need to
pray for priests and, especially, to pray and encourage young
men to seriously consider joining the priesthood. The sad
reality is that we’re just not ordaining enough men to meet the
needs of our Diocese. It doesn’t have to be this way, because
we know God is calling the men we need, if only they will
respond, and we support them. When I entered the seminary
27 years ago, Arlington had about 55 seminarians, whereas
today, after the Diocese has doubled in size, we only have 44
seminarians. This is not for lack of effort on Fr. Jaffe’s part,
and it’s pretty good compared to other dioceses, but nowhere
near what I would expect considering the vibrancy of our
The facts are simple: we need more priests, and many
of then are sitting in our pews and sleeping in your homes
I’m proud to say St. Raymond’s has given the Church
one priest and one seminarian, and one Religious Sister and
one soon to be Religious Sister—but I’m also saddened
because I know so many more of our young people are not
answering the call, and so many of our families are not
encouraging them enough.
The thing is, the priestly and religious life is a
wonderful life. Yes, we make sacrifices, but so do husbands
and wives. Yes, there are many unique joys in married life, but
there are equally joyful aspects of priestly and religious life.
I’ve told you before, as a young man in the world I thought
marriage alone would bring me happiness—until I discovered
God had another way to bring me happiness. I have never ever
regretted accepting my vocation, and I’ve never been happier
in my life, doing what God made me to do. There is
challenging work, and bountiful love in the priesthood. And
there is the deep peace and joy in being an instrument of God’s
mercy and salvation for His people.
Discern your vocation, and support the discernment of
our sons and daughters.
Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. Did you realize that
Ash Wednesday this year falls on February 14, which also
happens to be the Feast of St. Valentine, or as Hallmark calls it,
“Valentine’s Day” ?
I’ve written before about how Valentine’s Day can
often be corrupted by foolish secular notions of love, and
especially by lust. But I’m a big supporter of true love,
including the romantic sort, if it’s genuine and chaste and
consistent with the love of Christ. But the thing is, setting
February 14 as the annual date for the secular celebration of
romantic love is completely arbitrary. On the other hand, Ash
Wednesday, a solemn day of penance, fast and abstinence to
begin the forty days of Lent, is one of the most important days
of the Church’s year. And the celebrations often associated
with “Valentine’s Day”—romantic dinners, chocolates, etc.—
are really not fitting for Ash Wednesday.
So, keep Valentine’s Day this year, but decide right
now with your “Valentine” to change the date of celebration—
maybe to February 13. And make sure not to diminish the
importance of Ash Wednesday in any way.
The Flu and the Sign of Peace. The flu has been spreading to
almost epidemic proportions, including in our parish. Let’s
keep each other in prayer so that those who are suffering will
be comforted and healed quickly, and that those who are well
will not be struck. Let’s especially pray for those who tend to
be hardest hit by the effects of the flu, our oldest and youngest
brothers and sisters.
To help hamper the spread of the flu, I have decided
that, for the time being, the invitation to exchange the sign of
peace will not be given by the priests at Masses at St.
Raymond’s. The priest will say “The peace of the Lord be with
you always,” and we will respond “and with your spirit,” and
then immediately begin the Agnus Dei, or Lamb of God.
Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.
A Very Sad Note from the March for Life. Prior to the
March for Life some our parishioners worked with a large
group of young people from Springfield, Illinois, to find a
place for them to meet and have dinner after the March—our
hall was closed (due to the “frost heave”) so we helped them to
have access to the facilities of Angelus Academy. Sadly,
during their stay in our area one of the group, 14-year-old
Ayden O’Malley, suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage and was
rushed to the hospital, where she soon passed away. Her aunt,
told the papers, “(Ayden’s) final acts in life were in service to
God, standing up for the sanctity of life just outside the
Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, participating in the
March for Life. Her young life had such meaning.” Her family
and friends mourn her death, but they also thank God for the
wonder of the gift of her life, and every single human life. As
do we. Let us pray for her soul, for her family, and for a more
profound respect for every human life.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles