Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 22, 2017 Column Father De Celles

Fr. Jerry Daly’s Birthday. He’s going to be mad at me for doing this, but be sure to wish Fr. Daly a slightly belated blessed and happy birthday, as he turned…. a year older… this last Friday, July 21. For those of you who are new to our parish, Fr. Daly is a retired priest of the Diocese who is neither in residence or assigned here, but is a big help to us by offering Masses and hearing confessions, especially every Sunday. He was a late vocation, not being ordained a priest until he was in his fifties. Before that he served over 30 years in the Army as a very highly decorated helicopter pilot (I won’t tell you how “highly decorated,” because he’d get even madder at me). He was pastor of St. John’s in McLean and then St. Michael’s in Annandale before he retired about 13 years ago (he was my pastor at the time—some say working with me drove him to retirement). But as you can see, he remains active as a holy priest. Thanks be to God and to Fr. Daly for his service. Happy and Blessed Birthday!

Knights of Columbus. I want to thank Phil Fick for his outstanding service this last year as Grand Knight. This year was a record setting year for new membership, largely thanks to Phil’s leadership. I also want to thank and congratulate Pat Franco for accepting election as Grand Knight for the coming year. Let’s keep both Phil and Pat in our prayers.
And I remind all the men in our parish that they should join the Knights, the back bone of so many activities in the parish—a great instrument to serve Christ and the parish, and to have good Catholic fellowship. And if you are a knight already, remember to be an ACTIVE KNIGHT—attend meetings, volunteer to help on the various projects, etc.

St. Mary Magdalene. Yesterday, Saturday, July 22, we celebrated the feast of this great saint. “The Magdalene” is a great example for our times, as a woman once mired in a life of debauchery and filled with all seven deadly sins, who was finally lifted up and transformed by the love of Christ and her faith in Him to be a repentant, faithful and grace-filled servant of the Lord Jesus. We look to her example for hope in the power of Christ to “make all things new,” and pray for her intercession for our culture and our families.
My devotion to this great saint began as I grew up in St. Mary Magdalene Parish in San Antonio—I was baptized, confirmed, received First Holy Communion and first discovered my priestly vocation altar serving there. I remember as a boy praying in front of the stained-glass window of the Magdalene washing our Lord’s feet with her tears. My devotion has only grown through the years as I have seen our society increasingly degrade women through false feminism and sexual exploitation—the redeemed sinner Magdalene is a sign to all of us of the true dignity of women and the hope all sinners have in Christ. Finally, my devotion was cinched 15 years back when, by her intercession, I was miraculously cured on my death bed on her feast day.
And of course, she is patroness of the Dominicans (Order of Preachers) of which our own St. Raymond of Peñafort was the third Master General.
So, needless to say, I commend her to your devotions, and you to her protection. St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.

Vatican Confusion. Many of you have come to me expressing concerns and confusion about some of the things going on in Rome nowadays. This has been aggravated in the last few weeks, with some especially peculiar things happening in the Eternal City.
First, there was the report that the Archbishop-President of the Pontifical Academy for Life had seemed to scold the parents of little Charlie Gard in England, for choosing to employ “extraordinary means” to keep their little boy alive. Pope Francis later came out soon after that in support of the parents. Note, if the Archbishop did mean to scold the parents he was mistaken on 2 counts: 1) everyone is free to choose to use or not to use extraordinary means to treat medical issues, according to their own discernment and conscience guided by Catholic doctrine, and 2) parents, not governments or bishops, are the ones who make these choices for their children.
Then there was an article published in the semi-official Vatican journal La Civiltà Cattolica, in which the author, a highly influential Argentinian Jesuit now working in Rome, harshly criticized the political cooperation of American “conservative” Catholics and Evangelicals on moral and religious freedom issues in the U.S. As Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia charitably wrote in response, the article was “an exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/evangelical cooperation …. [I]t sounds willfully ignorant.”
And finally, there was the sordid story of Roman police raiding a scandalous party in the apartment of a well-connected priest working in the Vatican. The building is owned by the Vatican, and home to several key Vatican offices and the apartments of high ranking Vatican prelates. The Vatican has no official comment on the incident to date.
Now, all these developments are distressing, especially when considered in light of the confusion caused over the last few years by various Cardinals and Bishops who seem to question the moral teachings of Christ and His Church. But remember, the Church is the home of both saints and sinners, of the wise and the foolish, and any of these can, at any time, rise to positions of influence and power. However, over the last 2000 years the Church has survived times of terrible confusion—survived and gone on to flourish. And She has done so not primarily by the efforts of any human beings, but by the grace of Her Spouse, Jesus Christ, and the working of the Holy Spirit.
We pray and hope that Christ will send us good and holy priests and bishops. But we do not put our hope or faith in men, but rather trust in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and their eternal covenant with the Church. And so, while we might be scandalized and even angered (rightly, but with charity) by some who stain Her baptismal and wedding gown, we do not give up on or doubt Holy Mother Church, the Bride of Christ, and the teachings of Jesus that She hands down through centuries of magisterial instruction.
So, stay steadfast in faith in Christ and His Church, and let the peace of Christ, fruit of the Holy Spirit, abide in your hearts. And pray for the Church. And pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Oremus pro invicem, et pro Ecclesia. Fr. De Celles