Seventeenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

July 23, 2016 Column Father De Celles

Temporary Victory in Transgender Debate. The following News Release was published by Fairfax County Public Schools this last Tuesday:

“Following an extensive closed session yesterday, the Fairfax County School Board directed staff to temporarily suspend implementation of the proposed regulation regarding gender non-conforming and transgender students.  As a result, the Board canceled its discussion of the regulation scheduled as part of the work session on Thursday, July 21, 2016.

“In May 2015, the School Board voted to extend the FCPS non-discrimination policy (Policy 1450) to include gender identity. The purpose of the regulation is to establish procedures and guidelines for schools to support gender non-conforming and transgender students that are in-line with the policy and legal requirements.

“The Board determined it needs additional time to evaluate the legal issues surrounding the regulation, including a case now pending before the Supreme Court on this topic from a Virginia school district.”


So, as a direct result of public pressure—your pressure—the regulations are on hold, for now. These regulations were a mess, and laid the ground all sorts of abuses of our children, especially our girls. Thank you for all your efforts to stop these regs—this is a huge victory for parents and our children. See what can be done when we stand up for our rights, with charity but with clarity?

But the battle is not over. The policy that the regs were trying to implement still stands, “Policy 1450,” even if there are no Orwellian guidelines to enforce them. We can’t afford to walk away from the fight—that is exactly what the other side wants. Their whole approach has been to dishonestly and without transparency spring surprises on us—so we must continue to be vigilant, and pro-active. Because we know they will be, behind the scenes.

With that in mind, I invite you all to attend an “Informational Meeting” on this issue to be held this Tuesday evening, at 7pm in our Parish Hall. FCPS Board Member Elizabeth Schultz, a member of St. Andrew’s parish, will be speaking and answering questions on what has happened and on where we go from here. I strongly encourage you to attend—especially parents of public school children!


St. Mary Magdalene. This last Friday, July 22, we celebrated the feast of this great saint. This year, for the first time in history, the feast was celebrated liturgically as a “Feast,” i.e., with the solemnity accorded only to the most important saints of the apostolic age, i.e., St. John the Baptist, St. Lawrence (the first martyr), the Apostles, the Evangelists, and the Blessed Mother. According to ancient Catholic tradition Mary was like many women you know today: she was the sister of Lazarus and Martha who grew up innocently enough in the small town of Bethany, but somehow left home and fell into in a life mired in debauchery and filled with all seven deadly sins. In God’s mercy, however, she eventually heard Jesus preaching and was transformed by his words, grace and love, and her faith in and love for Him (“she has loved much”) led her to become the great repentant servant of the Lord Jesus, who would go on to stand at the foot of the Cross, be the first to see the Risen Christ, and the first to proclaim the Resurrection, even to the Apostles themselves.

I have been close to this saint since I was baptized in 1960 in my parish Church which was named after her. I grew up in her parish, and her school, and received all my sacraments there. My devotion has always been strong but grew over the years, until July 22, 2002, on her feast day, she interceded for me as I lay dying in a hospital. In the morning the doctors said I would be dead by the afternoon, but by noon they were stunned as I was completely cured.

I commend her to you as an outstanding example for our times, to confirm our hope in the power of Christ to “make all things new.” And I commend you to her powerful intercession for yourselves, for our children, and for our culture.


Humanae Vitae. Tomorrow, July 25, is the 48th anniversary of Pope Blessed Paul VI’s issuance of Humanae Vitae [1968], reaffirming the Church’s ancient and constant teaching against contraception. It is important we remember his teaching, especially:

            “[10] …In the task of transmitting life, therefore, they are not free to proceed completely at will, as if they could determine in a wholly autonomous way the honest path to follow; but they must conform their activity to the creative intention of God, expressed in the very nature of marriage and of its acts, and manifested by the constant teaching of the Church.

            “[11] These acts, by which husband and wife are united in chaste intimacy, and by means of which human life is transmitted, are, as the Council [Vatican II] recalled, “noble and worthy,” and they do not cease to be lawful if, for causes independent of the will of husband and wife, they are foreseen to be infecund, since they always remain ordained towards expressing and consolidating their union. In fact, as experience bears witness, not every conjugal act is followed by a new life. God has wisely disposed natural laws and rhythms of fecundity which, of themselves, cause a separation in the succession of births. Nonetheless the Church, calling men back to the observance of the norms of the natural law, as interpreted by their constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marriage act (quilibet matrimonii usus) must remain open to the transmission of life.”


On a Lighter Note…Summertime Golf. On my “day off” this week I was playing golf with 3 priests friends at Old Hickory Golf Course. On hole 17, a short 130-yard par 3, I messed up my tee-shot, hitting it only 61 yards into the rough. Argh.

Approaching my ball in the rough I joked with one of the priests that I was going to hit it into the hole from there. We both laughed.

So I hit my second shot from 59-yards out, in the rough, over two sand traps to a raised green. I could see the flag over the top of the hill, but not the hole itself. I hit a high pitch shot which barely made it over the traps and bounced on to the green. From where I was standing I couldn’t see the ball, so I had no idea what it was doing, until another of the priests, who was sitting in his cart next to the green watching the ball roll, jumped out of his cart shouting, “he drained it!”

A “hole in two.” A blind, up-hill, high pitch shot over two sand traps. Pretty cool. In 90˚ weather. Miracles happen all the time. Praised be Jesus Christ!


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles