Fifth Sunday of Lent

March 21, 2015 Column Father De Celles

Fifth Week Of Lent: Passiontide. Today we cover the statues and crosses as we begin the last two weeks of Lent, called “Passiontide.” At this point in Lent some people often start to slip in keeping their Lenten penances, while others haven’t yet begun their penances at all. Passiontide reminds us to refocus or deepen our attention on the season and its purposes of repentance of sin, conversion of heart, and appreciation of Christ’s love manifested in His Passion and Cross. If you’ve been slacking in your observance of Lent, buck up. If you’ve neglected the season entirely, it’s not too late. Let us beg our Crucified Lord to shower us with His grace in these last two weeks of Lent, and that we may be open to His grace and love Him in return.

Beginning tomorrow, Monday, evening confessions will go from 6pm until 7pm, and beginning this Tuesday we will have 2 or 3 confessors available. 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.

I also strongly encourage you to intensify your Lenten observance by taking greater advantage of opportunities offered in the parish. In particular, consider attending the Wednesday evening lecture series on the Virtues given by Fr. deLadurantaye at 7:30pm, or Stations of the Cross on Friday at 6:30pm. I also encourage you to attend at least one weekday Mass this week and next: what a beautiful way to refocus on Lent.


Palm Sunday, Procession. Next Sunday, March 29, 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). We will be reserving pews for those who join in the procession, if they call (703-440-0535) or email ( the office during the week (you need not call to join the procession). 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.


Jubilee Year. Last week Pope Francis announced that the Church will celebrate an extraordinary “Jubilee year” “of Mercy.” It will begin on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015, and will conclude on November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King. The beginning of the Jubilee Year corresponds to the 50th anniversary of the closing of Second Vatican Council.


In the News. Some very interesting news in the last 2 weeks, some good, some bad, some just bizarre. Consider the woman who was thrown out of her fitness club for objecting when she encountered a “transgender” man in the ladies room. Or the Washington State florist who was found guilty of violating state law by refusing to provide services for a same-sex wedding because that would go against her Christian faith, and now faces bankruptcy. Or the famous “gay” designers, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce, who came out in opposition to same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, saying: “Life has a natural course; there are things that cannot be modified. The family is one of them.” And consider:

Notre Dame: On March 9 the Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals which had previously ordered ND to comply with the Obamacare mandate to provide contraception insurance to employees. The Supremes sent the case back to the 7th Circuit, ordering it to reconsider its ruling in light of the recent SC ruling Hobby Lobby protecting religious freedom. According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, “This is a major blow to the federal government’s contraception mandate…As with the Supreme Court’s decisions in Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby, this is a strong signal that the Supreme Court will ultimately reject the government’s narrow view of religious liberty.”


Snow Day Collections. The snowy and cold weather took a real toll on our Sunday offertory collections during February, as many of parishioners stayed home and our collection noticeably declined (down one weekend by $7000). I understand why you stayed home, and trust your conscientious choices. However, the parish remained open, and Masses were offered. And we paid snowplowers thousands of dollars to keep the parking lot open, and we kept the heating running every weekend.  So, if you missed one or more Masses due to the weather (or any other reason) I hope you will consider dropping that weekly donation in the basket this week or next, or mailing it in to the office. Another good reason for considering signing up for Faith Direct (


Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. Thanks to all of you who have pledged to this year’s BLA. Unfortunately, though, we’re  noticeably behind (8%) compared to last year’s pace in reaching our dollar goal set by the Bishop. If you have not made your pledge yet, please consider doing so this week. If you have not made a pledge in prior years, please consider making one this year. Thanks again.


Safety Alert! Last Sunday afternoon, March 8, a man in a white vehicle approached one of our children in the church parking lot offering candy. The child rightly declined and the incident has been reported to the police. Anyone with any related information is asked to report it to the parish office or to the police. Remember that we all, especially parents, need to be constantly vigilant, even here at church, for our children’s safety and teach them to be vigilant as well. St. Michael, defend us.


Holy Week. Next Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Please plan ahead today to participate in the special and unique liturgies that mark these most solemn and sacred days of the Christian year, including Holy Thursday’s evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday’s 3pm Celebration of the Passion of the Lord (with Veneration of the Cross), and the Easter Vigil late on Holy Saturday evening.

As in the past, as your spiritual father I beg you to try to participate in all of these liturgies, especially the 3pm Good Friday service, with the Veneration of the Cross. Last year I was overwhelmed to witness over 1200 people patiently wait in line, many weeping, to venerate the cross of Christ. Some say, “but it’s a work day!” But I say: “it’s the hour of the Lord’s death! The most sacred hour in all time! Why would any Catholic want to be at work?”


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles