August 8, 2020 Column Father De Celles

Very Special Scholarship. Last week I announced a one-time $2,000 scholarship for children moving from public schools to Catholic schools this year.

This week, I’d like to make public a generous offer from a married couple in the parish who would like to sponsor, “a child whose parents desperately want to take them out of the …public schools…, but do not have the financial means for it.  We wanted to give them full tuition to Angelus [Academy] for as many years as it takes to graduate (or until the parents can comfortably afford the tuition themselves).” To clarify, this should be, “a child from a family that truly cannot afford the tuition on their own.”

Interested parents should contact me at the office.

Voting: Registration and Absentee Voting. There’s been a lot of talk about “voting by mail” lately, i.e., some states are mailing ballots directly to ALL registered voters. Many claim this will result in many headaches, including fraudulent voting, lost ballots, and delay in determining election winners.

Be that as it may, Virginia has a kind of mail in ballot, but it is very different than this. Rather, we have what is called “absentee voting by mail.” Instead of the state sending out ballots to ALL registered voters, in Virginia if an individual voter wants to mail in their vote they first have to apply for a ballot to be mailed to them. To do that, you can either fill out and mail in a paper form (available in the parish narthex or on the state elections website) or apply online at the state elections website. This application for a ballot must be submitted by October 23, 2020. Once you receive your ballot, you then mail it to the state, but to be counted it must postmarked on or before November 3, 2020.

            The Virginia state elections website is: “”

            You can also vote early in person (another form of absentee voting) from September 19 until October 31, 2020. It’s my understanding that the locations for this voting have not been announced yet.

            Also, you should be aware that a new law was passed this year that says you do not have to a reason or excuse to vote absentee in Virginia, either by mail or in-person.

            But to vote, you first have to be registered to vote in Virginia. Again, this can be done by mailing in a paper form or by going online to the state election website. The deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is October 13, 2020.

            To be eligible to vote in Virginia you must: Be a resident of Virginia; Be a U. S. Citizen; Be 18 years old (at the next general election); Not be registered and plan to vote in another state; Not currently declared mentally incompetent by a court of law; If convicted of a felony, your right to vote must have been restored.

            Military voters should consider the special rules that apply to them regarding state residency.

To summarize the above deadlines:

— to register to vote, or update an existing registration:

      October 13, 2020.

— to apply for an absentee ballot: October 23, 2020.

— to mail in your absentee ballot: postmarked no later

      than November 3, 2020.

Welcome to New Parishioners. Summer is always a time we lose and gain parishioners, especially those in the military. So I’d like to welcome all who have joined us in the last few months. I hope you find St. Raymond’s to be a welcoming parish, and encourage you to get involved our many liturgies, committees, and activities.

            Unfortunately, we are currently greatly limited in our activities by the restrictions by the COVID19 virus. So, please make sure you register with our parish office, so we can send you regular email updates on what’s going on in the parish. You can register in person, by filling out a registration form in the church narthex and drop it in the mail or the Sunday offertory box, or by visiting our parish website and clicking the menu “Welcome,” and then click to the page “New to St. Raymond’s” (the link to the form is near the bottom of that page).

            One thing to know about our parish is that we place great importance on the Grace and Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Flowing from this you will find a pronounced emphasis on reverence, especially during Holy Mass, what I call “emphatic reverence.” Nowadays reverence seems to be a lost virtue. The word “reverence” comes from the Latin for “fear,” “revere,” and Scripture tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” But this kind of fear is not like being in terror or afraid, but rather of being in “awe”: recognizing that God is the all-powerful creator and sustainer of the whole world, and I am just a little tiny speck in comparison—and yet, He loves me. So Christian reverence is fundamentally rooted in love.

            So we go out of our way here in our liturgies to be reverent, to remind ourselves we are in presence of God, the God who loved us so much He became one of us and died for our sins on the Cross, and gave us the Eucharist to be with us always, even to enter into us, especially in the mystery of His Sacrifice.

            To encourage this reverence we follow some ancient customs of the Church that set the liturgy apart as radically different from the mundane world we live in. For example, we sing traditional Catholic hymns, which are different than most contemporary liturgical music that incorporates so many aspects of modern secular music. And we use the ancient language of the Church, Latin, to remind us we’re doing something very different, in union with the Church all the way back to time of Jesus. And we incorporate beautiful vestments and vessels to remind us that Mass is a participation in the heavenly banquet come down to earth. And at many Masses the priest turns with the people, so that facing in the same way as them he leads them in prayer before the Most High God. We  also use an altar rail to give folks the option to kneel to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion (in the next few weeks we should be installing our new permanent marble altar rail).

            Things are just a little different here at St. Raymond’s. But then again, so is God. Welcome to St. Raymond’s.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This coming Saturday, August 15, is the Solemnity of the Assumption. Normally this is a Holy Day of Obligation, but between a special American rule and our Bishop’s suspending all Mass obligations during the pandemic, you DO NOT have to attend Mass on Saturday. But I still encourage you to come to Mass, so we will have special Masses on Friday, August 14 at 7pm (the Vigil), and at noon on Saturday. The noon Mass will be celebrated by our former parishioner, newly ordained Fr. James Waalkeshis first Mass at St. Raymond’s.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles