First Sunday Of Lent

February 13, 2016 Column Father De Celles

Lenten Series. This Thursday, at 7:30pm, February 18, we begin our 2016 Lenten Series. We are honored to have Fr. Mark Pilon present this year’s series on the topic: “Mercy – Another Name for Love.” Fr. Pilon served at St. Raymond’s for three years before retiring in 2012. He was formerly the Chairman of Systematic Theology Department at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, and holds a Sacred Theological Doctorate from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Rome). He is an eloquent, erudite and brilliant speaker and teacher. His topic this week will be: “The Initial Revelation of Mercy in the Old Covenant.” I hope to see you all there.


Paul DeRosa Retires. Most of you know Paul DeRosa, a ubiquitous presence around the parish since its founding. For the last 7 years he has been on the parish staff, for the last few years serving as our plant manager. In that position he has been an almost indispensable part of our parish. Whether it was keeping the church clean, or keeping the HVAC running, or shoveling snow in the middle of the night, Paul has been there for us.

Now Paul has informed me that effective March 18 he will be retiring. This is a huge loss to the parish, and especially to me. I’m sure you all join me in thanking him for all he’s done for us, as well as thanking God for giving him to us, and asking God to shower His graces on Paul in his retirement.

Going forward, his will be an extremely difficult position to fill, but the search must begin immediately. This full-time position of plant manager involves full responsibility (answering directly to me) for maintaining all aspects of the physical plant, from the roof to the trees, from light bulbs to our computerized HVAC. It also requires being on call for emergency problems in the middle of the night and weekends. It includes supervision of the janitorial staff and outside repairmen/contractors, as well as other “odd jobs”, e.g., coordinating security and safety, preparing the church for Christmas and Holy Week, and joining the rest of the staff in the “odd jobs” that need to get done in the parish.

The plant manager should have basic maintenance skills, but doesn’t have to be an expert repairman. The ideal candidate would be: a practicing Catholic; a member of our parish who lives near the church; experienced in plant management/maintenance, construction, engineering or some similar field; familiar with basics of HVAC, plumbing, electrictrical and mechanical works, and landscaping/gardening. He or she should have experience in supervising and collaborating with others. And perhaps the most important qualification: they would be excited to serve Our Lord by serving the parish.

If you are interested, or know someone who is, please call or email resumes to Mary Butler (who will be coordinating the search) at (703) 507-7776 or (You can also mail or drop off a resume at the office, marked for her attention). And you can also call Paul DeRosa (until March 18) at the office if you want more details about the job.

I can muddle through handling the more “priestly” aspects of the parish, as well as the finances. But when it comes to the physical plant, I depend largely on the skills and advice of my plant manager. Paul DeRosa has been great at that. Please pray we find the right person to take his place. I believe Christ will answer our prayers, especially when we are open to His Holy Will.


Lenten Prayer. During Lent all of us should do something to improve or deepen our prayer life. One great thing you can do is pray the Liturgy of the Hours—the prayer priests, nuns, monks, and most religious brothers and sisters pray 5 (or 7) times a day. (Remember: in Advent of 2013 I gave a series of talks on this—the audio recordings of these talks are available on my pages of the website).

To say all 5 parts of the LOH every day can be difficult for novices, so let me recommend you start with Morning Prayer (Lauds) and/or Evening Prayer (Vespers). But even this can prove too demanding for most. So maybe you can at least try this: pray the “Gospel Canticles” called “The Magnificat” (from Morning Prayer) and “The Benedictus” (from Evening Prayer). These two beautiful prayers are taken directly from the Gospel of Luke: they are prayers given to us by the Holy Spirit Himself. The Benedictus was first said by the father of St. John the Baptist, St. Zechariah, and The Magnificat was the prayer of the Blessed Mother when she visited St. Elizabeth. They are not only beautiful, but very applicable and relevant to our lives today. Here they are, why don’t you pray them every day during Lent:

The Benedictus (Morning): Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; // he has come to his people and set them free. // He has raised up for us a mighty savior, // born of the house of his servant David. // Through his holy prophets he promised of old // that he would save us from our enemies, // from the hands of all who hate us. // He promised to show mercy to our fathers // and to remember his holy covenant. // This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: // to set us free from the hands of our enemies, // free to worship him without fear, // holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. // You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; // for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, // to give his people knowledge of salvation // by the forgiveness of their sins. // In the tender compassion of our God // the dawn from on high shall break upon us, // to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, // and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

          The Magnificat (Evening): My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, // my spirit rejoices in God my Savior // for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. // From this day all generations will call me blessed: // the Almighty has done great things for me, // and holy is his Name. // He has mercy on those who fear him // in every generation. // He has shown the strength of his arm, // he has scattered the proud in their conceit. // He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, // and has lifted up the lowly. // He has filled the hungry with good things, // and the rich he has sent away empty. // He has come to the help of his servant Israel // for he has remembered his promise of mercy, // the promise he made to our fathers, // to Abraham and his children for ever.


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles