May 24, 2023 Column Father De Celles

The Ascension of the Lord. Although the feast of the Ascension is traditional
celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation on Thursday, i.e., 40 days after Easter
Sunday as the Gospels record, many Dioceses, including ours own, move it to
Sunday so that all Catholics are better able easily to celebrate this very important
And this is a very important feast, in as much as it celebrates the fact that
Jesus ascended, body and soul, into heaven, and now dwells in heaven as
a bodily person. This reminds us that God the Son came into the world “like us
in all things but sin” –of the reality of His bodily incarnation, birth, death and
resurrection–and redeemed us entirely, body and soul. Moreover, it is a pledge to
us of the resurrection of our bodies on the last day, and the transformation of the
physical world into a glorious, “new heavens and a new earth.”
This in turn leads us to remember the dignity of the human body: your
body is part of who you are, it is “you” as much as your soul is “you.” Your body is
you speaking and communicating yourself to other bodily persons. As such, the
body itself has meaning and speaks to others of this meaning. This is an
important truth to keep in mind these days, as many try to degrade the body and
treat it as an accidental part of who we are. The body and bodily acts mean
nothing but what you want them to mean, and so you can use or abuse your
body and other people’s bodies any way you like, or you can ignore the basic
truths that a person’s body tells us about them. This has become a key argument
for those who advocate and promote all sorts of mental/emotional/behavioral
problems, including pornography, homosexuality, “transgenderism” and
But that is contrary to common sense, the natural law (the way things
clearly are designed to be) and divine revelation. And it is totally opposed to the
dignity of the human body, which is so beautifully revealed to us in the mystery of
the Ascension of the Lord: that the body communicates who we are and is so
wonderful—so meaningful—that it is created to live in glory forever in heaven.
Novena to the Holy Spirit. 2000 years ago the Lord ascended into heaven on a
Thursday, so that immediately after that first Ascension Thursday the apostles
and the other disciples, with the Blessed Mother, began to pray for the coming of
the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised. For nine days they prayed, and on the
tenth day, Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit descend on them in a dramatic
display of divine power. Those nine days of prayer are the origin of the pious
Catholic custom praying of novenas (from “novem,” Latin for “nine”) for particular
The celebration of Ascension on Sunday complicates the idea of a
“Pentecost Novena.” Even so, I invite you to join me in praying (privately, or with
your families) a slightly shortened novena to the Holy Spirit. There are many
different forms of praying Pentecost novenas, so to keep it simple, I propose the
following. First, form a particular intention for each day:

Sun.: That St. Raymond’s priests and parishioners may more actively exercise
the gifts of the Holy Spirit we have received.
Mon.: That the Holy Spirit may grant me an increase in His gift of wisdom.
Tues.: …His gift of understanding.
Weds.: …His gift of counsel.
Thurs.: …His gift of fortitude.
Fri.: …His gift of knowledge.
Sat.: …His gift of piety.
Sun.: …His gift of reverence, or fear of the Lord.
And then, in union with the Blessed Mother say this prayer each day:
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of
your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew
the face of the earth. Let us pray. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did
instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit that we may
be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Confirmation. This coming Tuesday Bishop Burbidge will be here to give the
Sacrament of Confirmation to our teenagers. What an important night for these
young men and women, receiving the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Consider the effects of the Sacrament of Confirmation as outlined in the
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1303-5).
Fundamentally Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of
baptismal grace. Specifically this means it:
— roots us more deeply in the divine filiation (sonship);
— unites us more firmly to Christ;
— increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us (specifically the “Seven Gifts of
the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, right judgment (counsel) and courage
(fortitude), knowledge, reverence, and piety);
— renders our bond with the Church more perfect;
— gives us a special strength to spread and defend the faith by word and
action as true witnesses of Christ.
Let’s pray for our newly confirmed that they may be open to and cooperate
with the graces they will received in Confirmation. But let us also pray for
ourselves that we may do the same.
CCD Summer Break. Religious Education (CCD) for our kids in grade school
and high school is over for this year. Thanks be to God for allowing us to share
and learn our faith this year.
And thanks also: to all the kids for coming, participating and studying; to
their parents for passing on the faith the your children and allowing us to help you
do this; to our wonderful and dedicated teachers and teaching assistants; and

especially to Mary Salmon, our Director of Religious Education, and Mary
Hansen, her Assistant, for giving us the best CCD program in the Diocese.
Welcome. Welcome home to Fr. Paul Dominic Marich, O.P., former parishioner
High School CCD teacher, who celebrated the one year anniversary of his
ordination this week and returns to our parish to offer 7am Mass for us today.
We also welcome Bishop Burbidge this afternoon for the Diocesan Mass
for Adult Confirmation (the Cathedral closed for renovations), and again
tomorrow four our parish Confirmations.
Vacation. I had a great vacation the week before last, playing golf down in
Williamsburg with a couple of my priest-friends, staying at a condo owned by one
of my friend’s family. I needed the break, and the rest and relaxation did me a lot
of good. The weather was just about perfect (no rain, mid-70s, sunshine) and the
golfing was fun with decent scores—including one round at Brickshire Golf Club
when I set a new “personal best ever” score of 87. And then I get to come back
to the parish to the best job ever! Praised be Jesus Christ!
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles