December 17, 2022 Column Father De Celles

“I See Him, But Not Now….” We are now in the last days of Advent, the final time to prepare for
Christmas. I know there’s an awful lot going on in the next week: last minute shopping, wrapping and
mailing presents, travelling. But don’t let all that busyness distract you from what’s most important:
we are preparing to celebrate the day awaited from almost the beginning of the creation of man,
when God first promised that “the woman” would bring forth a son who would crush the serpent’s
head. The day when God the Son, Creator of the Universe, to whom all angels bowed in worship,
having been conceived in the womb of His mother Mary, entered the world as a poor, defenseless,
vulnerable baby, to save mankind from sin and to offer us a share in His eternal life and love.
So rather than allowing all the busyness to distract you in the next few days, try to make real
time to prepare yourself for this celebration. Avoid all sin. Try to show charity and compassion to
your neighbor, especially your family members, at every moment—be helpful, not harmful, to family
peace. And love God above everything and with everything. Take time to pray, and in your prayer
place yourself in the company and care of Mary and Joseph. It’s about an 8-day journey from
Nazareth to Bethlehem, so this week walk with them on that road. Imagine them travelling on the
rocky roads of Galilee and Judea, walking all that way or, perhaps, aided by a donkey. Imagine the
cold and even freezing weather over the several days’ journey. Imagine how every day as they were
a little closer, they were also a little colder and more tired. Think of their struggle, but also their joy.
For they were not traveling alone: their Savior was with them in Mary’s womb! And they knew they
would see Him and hold Him so soon.
Travel with them these next few days in prayer. Stop from time to time at work, and wonder,
“where are your now, Mary and Joseph, and Baby Jesus?” Come to church for a quiet visit, and
think, “perhaps you are stopping to rest now—let me rest with you.” Accompany them on their
journey—and do not get too distracted by the busyness of the season.
Giving Tree. Thanks to all of you who gave so generously to the “Giving Tree.” Because of your
kindness over 30 families and 200 people will have a little merrier Christmas this year.
Christmas Schedule: Please take time today to revisit our schedule for next weekend, found below
in this bulletin. Because Christmas falls on Sunday this year, this weekend’s schedule is very
different than usual.
Let me extend a particular invitation to Christmas Midnight Mass. There is something very
special about that Mass, which begins with the placing of the “Baby Jesus” in the Manger, as we
remember that Christ was born in the “Holy Night.” The choir sings so beautifully, all the altar servers
are so reverent, and we usually get a large (not too large, though) and devout crowd. Think about
joining us this year. (Just a fatherly word of caution: it can be a little tough on the very little ones, that
late; so parents, please be prudent).
Lessons and Carols. After a 2 year covid-inflicted hiatus, last Sunday the tradition of Lessons and
Carols returned to St. Raymond’s, with a crowd of over 200, with most of them staying to celebrate
at the reception afterwards. So many people came to me at the reception saying something like:
“Father, thank you for this; this is our first time, and it was amazing—the choir was incredible!” I hate
to say, “I told so,” but…
I mean, how can watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” compare to the reading of the Archangel
Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary and Joseph? How can listening to “Jingle Bells” and “All I Want For
Christmas Is You” compare to feasting on Biebl’s “Ave Maria”? What a way to bring us back and lift
us up to what Advent is all about! I’m so glad so many of you came—and next year I look forward to
the rest of you joining us! Thanks again to all, especially our great choir and musicians, who did so
much to help us bring back this very special St. Raymond of Peñafort Advent tradition.
Music at St. Raymond’s. I really don’t talk enough about our wonderful music at St. Raymond’s,
and I am especially negligent in recognizing the particular contributions of Elisabeth Turco, our
music director. Elisabeth is a brilliant musician, director and teacher, with strong classical training
from her youth through graduate school. And she’s incredibly easy to work with—working with her

pastor, other musicians, singers and parishioners in general. Since day one I have been able to go
to her with my almost complete lack of musical training and knowledge and say, “this is my vision,
this is the kind of thing I want and don’t want, this is the direction we will go,” and she has been able
to implement it beautifully. Her achievements have recently been recognized by our Bishop, as he
appointed her to the elite committee in charge of finding a new Diocesan/Cathedral Music Director,
and after her outstanding work there he appointed her as the only parish music director on the
Diocesan Liturgical Commission. I’m very proud of her and can’t imagine what we would do without
And she would want me to put in a plug for the choir: I’m sure you agree with me that it’s
excellent, but we need more members. If you like to sing and have a decent singing voice, send
her an email at Or stop by the choir loft after Mass.
“Respect for Marriage Act.” In case you haven’t seen this excellent statement from our Bishop:
Statement by Bishop Michael Burbidge on the House passage of the misnamed
“Respect for Marriage Act”
Today the United States House of Representatives voted 258 to 169 to pass a bill that would
create a federal statute that attempts to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.
We believe that all people have inherent God-given dignity and are worthy of our love and
respect. That belief is inextricably linked to another foundational understanding: that marriage, as the
lifelong, exclusive union of one man and one woman, is also given by God and cannot be redefined.
This deeply held belief is also held by millions of well-meaning and sincere people – both people of
faith and people who ascribe to no faith – throughout the country.
While the act was named the Respect for Marriage Act, it in fact shows grave disrespect for
the institution of marriage as written in natural law. Marriage between a man and a woman is an
institution understood throughout history as the foundational building block of society.
I urge people of faith and those of goodwill to continue to pray that marriage, as it was
intended by our Creator, will continue to be honored and supported throughout our country.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles