Second Sunday of Lent

March 16, 2019 Column Father De Celles

Don’t be Afraid to Go to Confession! Our daily confessions have started out well, as we’ve had a steady flow every day. Glad to see it. But there’s still room for you! Please remember to come during Lent, and to come early avoiding the long lines during Holy Week—if for no other reason, out of charity to your priests.

I know some people are afraid to go to Confession and so haven’t been in years. Some are afraid because they are embarrassed by their sins. But remember, you can confess behind the screen, so the priest won’t even know who you are (and we almost never recognize a voice).

Others are afraid because they think their sins can’t be forgiven. But remember, Jesus says: “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man…” As long as you are truly sorry for your sins and want to stop sinning, the priest, with the power of Jesus, will forgive you.

Some are afraid because they think the priest will be angry with them. But that’s just not true. In all my 42 years of going to Confession, I’ve only had one truly unpleasant experience. Okay, priests have bad days like all of us, but even on a bad day priests won’t get upset with you. Priests love forgiving sins—the bigger the better. And just because a priest seems stern in the pulpit doesn’t mean he’s that way in the confessional. A father may sometimes be stern when he teaches his children to behave, but when an apologetic child comes to him in tears, that same father opens his arms in tenderness. “A lion in the pulpit, a lamb in the confessional.”

Some think they will shock the priest by what they’ve done. As Ecclesiastes tells us: “what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” I’ve heard over 25,000 Confessions in the last 23 years, and I have heard almost every sin imaginable—really. Nothing shocks me anymore.

And finally, some are afraid the priest will tell someone about their sin. This just doesn’t happen. In all my life I have never heard a priest reveal the sins of anyone in Confession. Priests are forbidden, under pain of automatic excommunication (that can only be lifted by the pope himself), from ever directly or indirectly revealing the particular sins of a particular penitent. This is called the “seal of Confession,” and extends even to revealing things that are not sinful that are discussed in the Confession. A lot of priests, including myself, pray and try to forget what they hear in Confession and avoid even admitting that a particular person came to Confession. (A great movie dramatizing this is Alfred Hitchcock’s “I Confess.”)

So don’t be afraid. Come to Confession! Soon!

Defunding Planned Parenthood. From LifeSiteNews, March 12, 2019:

The state of Ohio may proceed with its efforts to defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business, a majority of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled as the legal battle over a 2016 law enters its third year. Last April, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit ruled that the state could not forbid the distribution of federal health subsidies to any entity that commits or promotes elective abortions…On Tuesday the full 6th Circuit disagreed.…In the majority ruling, Judge Jeffrey Sutton concluded that the “affiliates do not have a due process right to perform abortions.”

“Governments generally may do what they wish with public funds, a principle that allows them to subsidize some organizations but not others and to condition receipt of public funds on compliance with certain obligations,” Sutton explained, unless it does so “on a basis that infringes [a recipient’s] constitutional rights.”

“This ruling is a major victory for pro-life Ohioans and all Americans fighting to keep their own tax dollars from being used to prop up the abortion industry,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser responded. “The American people have repeatedly expressed their opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, which destroys more than 332,000 innocent unborn children a year – funding that could be redirected to life-affirming care providers, such as the growing number of community health alternatives that outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities at least 20 to one nationwide.”

Parish Expenditures on Charitable Works. Someone recently wrote me suggesting that the parish should give more money to charities, those in need. I appreciate this, but let me take this as an opportunity to explain some things about our parish finances.

First of all, the parish itself is a “charity” that has a life and needs of its own, like a family, that has to be sustained, and nourished to flourish. So my primary obligation, as pastor, is to see that we have money to fund the various activities of the parish itself, and so the vast majority of our expenditures goes to pay for the parish staff, religious education (for both children and adults), liturgies, maintenance, electricity, etc.. While I try to be careful and frugal, I also think it unwise to scrimp on spending that will genuinely be helpful to the parishioners’ spiritual and religious growth.

But we also see the parish as a family that gives to others, supporting the special needs of our members, our “relatives” (other Catholic groups), and also strangers who are in need.

So, last year we voluntarily spent a total of $166,482.11, or 8.6% of our total ordinary expenditures, on what we call “Charitable Works.” This included $47,700 in emergency assistance to families and individuals, $52,410 in parishioner scholarships to Catholic grade and high schools, $36,000 to Angelus Academy, and $29,534 to other Catholic groups (including: Catholic Charities, Divine Mercy Care, St. Dominic’s Monastery, Fellowship of Catholic University Students, Hard as Nails Ministries, Guadalupe Free Clinic, JMU Catholic Campus Ministry, Our Lady of the Blue Ridge Parish, Pakistani Missions).

In addition to that, the Bishop assessed us $ 46,284 for tuition assistance for needy children around the Diocese. So, adding that to our “Charitable Works,” that means last year we gave away $212,766, or about 11%, of our annual ordinary expenditures, to outside charities and the needy.

Just thought you should know. And thanks for your generosity.

Energy Savings. It looks like the lighting change is saving us money in energy costs. The numbers show a savings of about $1,300 a month for the last nine months, compared to last year. That’s about $16,000 annualized.

Reminders. The first ever Virginia March for Life, at the State Capitol building in Richmond on April 3. St. Raymond’s will be taking 2 buses down for the March. Sign Up sheets are in the narthex. Please join us.

Please join us every Thursday during Lent, for our Lenten Series and Holy Hour, meditating on “The Agony in the Garden.” We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a half-hour talk, followed by praying the Rosary and then Benediction.

And don’t forget Lenten Soup Suppers and Stations of the Cross, every Friday at 5:00pm and 6:30pm respectively. All are welcome.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles