May 14, 2016 Column Father De Celles

Pentecost: Come Holy Spirit! This Sunday’s readings tell us that the Holy Spirit first descended on the early Christians with “a noise like a strong driving wind,” and appeared like “tongues as of fire.” After this they “began to speak in different tongues” so that the people gathered in Jerusalem “from every nation under heaven” could hear them “speaking in his own language.”

That same Holy Spirit descended on each of us in Baptism, and came again to strengthen (“confirm”) His gifts in us when we received the Sacrament of Confirmation. By the baptismal indwelling of the Spirit we were united to the Divine life of Jesus Christ, and in Confirmation we were given the gifts to live the fullness of the faith amidst the great challenges of world. These gifts help us individually to get to heaven, by loving God and our neighbor, but they are also meant to help us proclaim the Gospel to all those around us, just as the first Christians did.

And the Holy Spirit does not merely come to individuals, He comes and dwells in the Church as One Body of Christ. Because of this no gift of the Holy Spirit is meant merely for personal enhancement separate from the Church, or contrary to the unity of the Church.

Let us pray to Christ and His Father, to renew in us the powerful presence of their Holy Spirit within each of us and within the whole Church. And let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to use His gifts to become the Christians we are called to be.


Amoris Laetitia Confusion and Clarification. Since the publication of Amoris Laetitia (Pope Francis’s letter on marriage) on April 8, many theologians, bishops and even cardinals have tried to argue that the document includes some radical changes in Church doctrine or discipline, including allowing “divorced and remarried” Catholics (those who attempt remarriage without an annulment and without a priest) to receive Communion. But this is all nonsense and completely contrary to the clear meaning of the document. As I indicated in my column of April 17, AL clearly upheld the Church’s immemorial doctrines on the indissolubility of marriage, the adulterous nature of “remarriage,” and the denial of Communion to those who “divorce and remarry.” Although the document has some very confusing and ambiguous passages, Catholics are not bound by confusion or ambiguity, so those passages change nothing.

I was very pleased to read a few days back that Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the highest ranking teacher in the Church under the Pope, came out and said basically the same thing, although in much more articulate and sophisticated way:

“There have been different claims that Amoris Laetitia has rescinded this (prior) discipline, because [some say] it allows…the reception of the Eucharist by remarried divorcees without requiring that they change their way of life…. namely, by giving up their new bond or by living as brothers and sisters….If Amoris Laetitia intended to rescind such a deeply rooted and such a weighty discipline, it would have expressed itself in a clear manner and it would have given the reasons for it. However, such a statement with such a meaning is not to be found in it [Amoris Laetitia]. Nowhere does the pope put into question the arguments of his predecessors. They [the arguments] are not based upon the subjective guilt of these our brothers and sisters, but, rather, upon the visible, objective way of life which is in opposition to the words of Christ.”


Gender Science. Despite the ideology driven efforts of some folks, “transgenderism,” (i.e., if a boy thinks he’s a girl, we should agree that he’s a “she”) continues to run afoul of reason and science. Last year I quoted at length from articles by Dr. Paul R. McHugh (former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins), and brought Fr. Tad Pacholczyk (PhD in neuroscience from Yale) to the parish to speak, both of whom explain the overwhelming science debunking transgender “theory.”

And now the American College of Pediatricians has issued an official statement along the same lines:

“The American College of Pediatricians urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality….

A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking. When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl…an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such…

“According to the DSM-V, as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty…Rates of suicide are twenty times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery…What compassionate and reasonable person would condemn young children to this fate knowing that after puberty as many as 88% of girls and 98% of boys will eventually accept reality and achieve a state of mental and physical health?…

“Conditioning children into believing that a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.”


Spring and Summer. Spring has finally sprung, which means we will begin again to experience two things at Mass: more noise and less clothes. Both of these are somewhat understandable: as they become more active outside little ones seem to tend to be more active inside also, and as it becomes warmer outside, all of us tend to wear less clothing.

The only dress code we have at St. Raymond’s is to use common sense, as well as Christian modesty, chastity and charity. Growing up in Texas I understand all about dressing for the heat. But let’s remember two things. First, please try not to dress like you’re going to the pool when you’re coming to Mass. On the other hand, if someone does come to Mass in a t-shirt and shorts let’s assume they have an important reason for doing so. The second thing to remember is that the more skin we show the more likely we are to be a “near occasion of sin” to others. So I ask all of you, wherever you are this summer—whether on the beach, on a date, or at Mass—please consider the spiritual well-being of others.

Also, we love to have little children at Mass. But all of us (including their parents) would also prefer if they would be peaceful and quiet at Mass. But that isn’t always the way it is—especially at this time of year. So once again I encourage all of you, in charity, to be patient and supportive of parents and children. On the other hand, parents, please remember to do what you can, and when a child gets really out of hand at Mass, please consider moving to the “Family Room” or the narthex until they quiet down. God bless you parents and your little ones!


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles