Fifth Sunday Of Lent

April 1, 2017 Column Father De Celles

Cardinal Burke’s Visit. What a great evening our parish experienced on Friday, March 24, as we were blessed by long anticipated visit and lecture by Cardinal Raymond Burke. Both the Cardinal and I were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and the size of the crowd—standing room only (so well over 900 people), by far the largest crowd for a speaker we’ve had in my term here.

His Eminence spoke for about 50 minutes. He began with a tribute to our patron, St. Raymond of Peñafort, as a great moral theologian, confessor and pastor, as well as a great Canon Lawyer. He then used St. Raymond’s life and work as a launching point to discuss how the disciplines of the Church (Canon Law, liturgical norms, parish policies, etc.) must always reflect the doctrines of the Church, and how the doctrines are put to practical application through the discipline. He emphasized how neither discipline nor doctrine interferes with freedom, but rather, rightly understood, they enhance our freedom. Doctrine is the “truth”, and so it frees us to become who we were created to be. Discipline enhances our freedom by allowing us to live together in peace with each other, and to practically live out the requirements of the doctrine of Christ in everyday life.

His talk was profound, and although sometimes I was concerned it might strike some as a bit esoteric, most of it was very accessible and helpful to all present: I spoke to several of the young people in attendance, and they were all able to enthusiastically tell me about key aspects of his talk.

A 30-minute Question and Answer session followed, during which I read about 10 or so questions to His Eminence (out of about 50 submitted by the crowd, and chosen for their general interest and clarity). To many, this was the most interesting part of the evening, as he answered with stunning frankness and clarity.

For example, his impassioned discussion of the liturgy and liturgical reform, and of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s claim that “the smoke of Satan has entered into the sanctuaries of the Church.” Particularly interesting was his blunt answer to one questioner’s concern about the appearance of noted pro-abortion and population control advocate Paul Ehrlich at a recent Vatican conference: “I’m scandalized by it, and I don’t see how any good Catholic wouldn’t be scandalized by it.”

Perhaps most interesting was his response to questions about the “Five Dubia” he and three other distinguished cardinals submitted to Pope Francis regarding erroneous interpretations some cardinals and bishops have given to His Holiness’s letter, Amoris Laetitia (about divorce, “remarriage” and Holy Communion). He carefully explained that this is the normal way these kind of confusing issues are addressed, and there is absolutely nothing unusual, disrespectful or disobedient about it. With regard to criticism from some prelates for making the “Dubia” public, he responded: “We judged it necessary …because so many of the faithful were approaching us, …saying, ‘well, what’s wrong? We have these questions and it seems like, that none of the cardinals who have a great responsibility to assist the holy father has these questions.’ And so…we published them…” He went on to clarify what he has previously said, that if the Holy Father does not clarify the confusion, “Then we simply will have to correct the situation, again, in a respectful way, that simply can say, to draw the response to the questions from the constant teachings of the Church and to make that known for the good of souls.” By this I took him to clearly mean that the four cardinals will not be “correcting the Pope,” as some suggest, but rather correcting those who propose erroneous interpretations of the Pope’s statements, by simply reiterating the clear and “constant teachings of the Church.”

To listen to the audio of his talk and the question and answer session, go to:

Thanks. I give thanks to Almighty God for this great gift of the Cardinal’s visit. I also thank our patron, St. Raymond, for his intercession in bringing this about so successfully. Also, thanks to Fr. Smith, my parish staff (especially Eva Radel) and key volunteers (the Ushers, the Religious Liberty and Marriage Committee, the Gift Shop and the Altar Servers; and particularly Chef Christine Gloninger). And thanks to all who came to the talk and welcomed His Eminence so kindly.


Passiontide. Today we enter into that part of the season of Lent called “Passiontide,” a time when we more intently and somberly focus our attention Christ’s Passion. We try, in effect, to take ourselves 2000 years back in time and walk with Jesus in those last days before Good Friday. We mark this in a very dramatic way by covering the statues and crucifixes in our churches: Good Friday has not yet happened, so there is no cross yet; Easter has not happened, so no saints are in heaven. Keep this in mind in the coming days: “I’m walking with Jesus, and Peter and the apostles…With Judas. With John, and Mary Magdalene… Walking toward Jerusalem, stopping in Bethany, going to the temple…. I’m in the Upper Room, at the Last Supper…In the house of Caiaphas…In the palace of Pilate…Standing with Blessed Mary as they scourge her little boy….”

Jesus created us in bodies, and came and spoke to us and suffered and died in His body. Which is why it’s so important to experience the mysteries of this season “in the flesh.” One way we do this is through the physical acts of penance we give ourselves: the minor sufferings our personal Lenten sacrifices remind us of the sufferings of Christ, and his love for us.

But another very important way we experience this “in the flesh” is through the outward signs of our liturgical and prayer practices. So, please, come to the church and physically take part in the various sacraments, liturgies and other pious activities of the Church and parish in the next few weeks.

Beginning tomorrow, Monday, evening confessions will go from 6pm until 7pm, and beginning this Tuesday we will have 2 confessors available (if necessary). If you have not been to confession this Lent please try to go before Easter, remembering that during Holy Week (beginning next Sunday) the confession lines are very long. So, if you haven’t been to confession this Lent, PLEASE COME THIS WEEK, and avoid the longest lines.


Palm Sunday, Procession. Next Sunday, April 9, is Palm/Passion Sunday.  Please consider coming to the 8:45 Mass and joining in the Solemn Procession with Palms at the beginning of Mass. If you’d like to join the procession gather with me in the Parish Hall before 8:45 and then, after some prayers and a Gospel reading, we will process outside, and enter the church from the front, and you can take your pew as usual. (This takes about 10 minutes). If you attend the 8:45 Mass you may also simply take your seats in the church before Mass as usual and listen over the speakers in the church to everything said/sung in the Parish Hall.


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles