November 24, 2013

November 24, 2013 Column Father De Celles

Typhoon Haiyan. I want to begin this week by thanking all of you who contributed to last week’s second collection for our brothers and sisters in the Philippines suffering from the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. I was a little concerned about surprising you with this collection, but decided to go ahead with it considering the immediate emergency need. And you responded in amazing fashion: we collected over $17,000, one of the parish’s largest second collections ever. For those of you who were unable to contribute last week we will continue to accept donations for the next few weeks, forwarding them to Catholic Relief Services. Thank you for your continuing generosity. And please remember to keep the Philippines in your prayers.

I am also keenly aware that many members of our parish may have friends or family back in the Philippines who may have been effected by the Typhoon. If there is anything more that the parish can do for you or them, please do not hesitate to bring it to my attention.

Obamacare. I really don’t want to wade into politics here, but I am distressed by some of the developments of the last few weeks related to Obamacare. Of course the worst is the lie our president and so many senators and representatives told us that if we like our insurance or doctor we could keep them. We have all come to expect politicians to exaggerate in trying to sell their programs to us, but this lie was really over the top. In any case, it reminds us how lying is becoming more acceptable to us when we are trying to get what we want. But the overwhelming negative reaction reminds us that lying is still a terrible thing. It completely destroys the trust necessary to building and keeping unity and friendship, whether in a nation or among individuals. Perhaps this is why trust in government is at an all-time low. Perhaps this is why there are so many problems in society too: lies, whether in advertising or social propaganda or in individual relationships, are taking their toll.

Speaking of advertising, a second distressing development related to Obamacare is the advertisements our government is using to encourage young people to sign up. In one ad a young woman is standing next to a young man saying: “Let’s get physical. OMG, he’s hot! My health care covers the pill…,” and then goes on to express her raunchy desires about the guy. Is our government promoting health insurance or promiscuous sex? And what is it with the pill and this administration? And don’t they realize that you and I read this and say, “I don’t want to pay for her immoral lifestyle, not to mention her physically unhealthily lifestyle?” This promotion of a physically unhealthy lifestyle just to sell their program is repeated in a second ad that shows three young men surrounding a beer keg (one with the hose in his mouth), saying, “Don’t tap into your beer money to cover those medical bills. We got it covered.” Seriously? Why spend your beer money on doctors, when you can let some hardworking middle class family pay for it out of their budget? And get drunk and don’t worry about the consequences, someone else will pay for it.

Maybe it’s not so much about healthcare. Maybe South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn explains it best: “what we’re trying to do is change a values system in our country.” Indeed.

Advent. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, as we prepare spiritually for the celebration of the birth of our Saviour at Christmas. In the very good busyness of Thanksgiving week, please take some time to plan ahead for Advent so that it will truly be a time of holiness, not merely the shopping time between Black Friday and Santa Claus Day.

Next weekend we will have an insert with the full schedule of Advent events but please plan on you and your family taking particular advantage of the increased confession opportunities (every weekday evening from 6:15 to 7:00) as well as the many existing opportunities for weekday Mass.

Also, I invite you all to attend the Advent Series on “Prayer: In Conversation with God” that I will be giving every Thursday in Advent. We’ll begin the first week discussing prayer in general: why we pray, how to pray, etc. The second week we’ll focus on making use of the powerful prayers the Church gives us, briefly revisiting the Rosary and introducing you to the basics of how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, the beautiful prayers the priests, monks and nuns say five times during every day. Finally, in the third week we’ll discuss how to get more out of the Mass by actually praying the Mass with Christ and His Church. I’m looking forward to teaching this series and to seeing all of you there!

I also ask you to put another Advent event on your calendars: “Lessons & Carols” on Sunday, December 8, at 6:30pm. Please join me, the lectors and the choir at 6:30pm for a program of beautiful Advent music and Scripture readings, this year especially focusing on the Blessed Mother, as it falls on her Feast (Immaculate Conception). It’s a great way to help put things in their proper context this Advent.

Thanksgiving. Although it’s been a trying year in many respects, we all still have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, me especially. I thank the Good Lord Jesus for His saving love and grace that He continues to shower on me. I thank Him for my priesthood, especially the power to offer His sacrifice at the altar and to forgive sins in His name. I thank Him for my family who is always so supportive of me, and for the help of my brother priests, especially Fr. Kenna, Fr. Nguyen, and Fr. Daly (and the increasingly helpful Fr. Scalia). But most of all this year I thank Him for entrusting me with this parish, and with all of you, my spiritual children. Every year, no matter how difficult, is a year of grace from God that merits a devout and continuous thanksgiving from His people. Thanks be to Jesus Christ, now and forever! And a happy and safe Thanksgiving to you all of you and your families!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles