July 20, 2020 Column Father De Celles

Summertime. These last few months have been a crazy anxious time for all of us. But now, in the middle of the Summer, we need to remember to try to relax, and to get outside and enjoy God’s gift of creation.

I also hope you can take a vacation—to get away from home and maybe visits friends or relatives out of state, or just recharge your batteries after a long and stressful year. This would be very helpful to all us. In fact, this last week, Monday through Friday, I got away to friend’s house in the Valley, played golf and rested. It was a simple vacation, but I really needed it.

But remember, we never take a “break” or a vacation from God or our Catholic faith. Remember to pray, love God, live in charity with others, and keep the commandments. Most importantly, remember to go to Sunday Mass, or at least try to watch it livestreamed. We are temporarily not under obligation to attend Sunday Mass right now—but why would you want to miss it? And if you do miss Mass, you still need to keep the Lord’s day holy, with some prayerful activity, i.e., the rosary, reading the Sunday readings, etc.

And remember, even as we rest a bit this summer, the Devil never rests. So make sure you keep up with what’s happening in the community and the country, and in the Church. But don’t overdo it, watching tv or reading the news: keep informed but too much can be depressing. Take it from me, a reforming news addict.

Catholic Schools and Homeschooling. Many people have concerns about Fairfax County Public Schools’ reaction to the coronavirus and reopening in the Fall. According to their website, parents have two choices:

1) “Full-time online instruction,” with no in-person classroom time.

2)    Or “at least two full days of instruction in school each week” with “independent study and work on the days they are not in the school building.”

With all the ideological crud being forced on FCPS students, maybe it’s time to consider removing your kids from the public schools and putting them in a good Catholic school, or homeschool them yourselves.

As far as homeschooling, while it’s not “for” everyone, it’s probably “for” a lot more folks than we normally think. And it’s not the same as the homeschooling most of you did when the schools closed last year, which was a probably not as helpful and organized and effective as you would have hoped.

The homeschooling curriculums used by most homeschooling families today are very well organized and geared to the particular realities of homeschooling. There are also many groups and companies that supply homeschool curriculums and assistance. There are online options also, but options developed over years, and not thrown together at the last moment. There are also co-op classes taught to groups of homeschool kids on subjects parents might struggle to teach, e.g., biology, physics, advanced math, music, etc.. St. Raymond’s hosts several of these in our classrooms.

And homeschool academics can be excellent. For example, one of our parish’s “kid” was home schooled through 8th grade and then attended a Catholic high school and graduated as class valedictorian. He’s now in a top rated doctoral program in biomedical engineering.

Although I used to have my reservations about it, I have become a big fan in recent years. I used to be especially concerned about “socialization” issues with homeschooling, but when I see how the homeschool families are so active together, in the parish and in the surrounding community those concerns are long gone.

If you have any questions about homeschooling, I suggest you go to our website and check out what St. Raymond’s Home School Group is doing, and the information it can offer you. Just go to “straymond.org,” and then click the “apostolates” menu, and then click “Home School Group.”

As far as Catholic schools, there are several convenient to our parish that your children can attend. While most of them have not yet presented their reopening plans, I know that they DO plan to reopen and it looks like they will most likely offer 5-day in-person classroom plans. These plans should be revealed before the end of this month.

Also, I know that our friends at Angelus Academy, are planning to reopen in the fall, with their regular 5-day in-person classroom curriculum, complying with CDC guidelines. Angelus is a small independent school, but has a long history with our parishioners and provides a solid Catholic education. I am the chaplain, and say Mass and hear confessions there most weeks. Go to angelusacademy.org or call (703) 924-3996 for more information.

Scholarships. You should remember that the parish offers “scholarships” to assist parishioners both attending Catholic schools and to homeschooling families. For example, if you wish to attend one of the schools in another parish we will make up the difference in-parish vs. out-of-parish rates. Additional aid is available as needed.

Also, I have a particular offer from one couple to subsidize

the tuition of a child in need who wants to transfer from

the public schools to Angelus Academy.

Please contact me with any questions—I am eager to help.

Pray to our Heavenly Benefactors. With all the craziness and problems surrounding us, remember to always trust in Jesus and His love for you. And remember that in His love He has given us heavenly benefactors to protect us and console us: The Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, St. Michael, our Guardian Angels, and our own patron saints, etc.. And of course, our dear friend and father, St. Raymond of Peñafort. Let us remember to seek his help every day and have confidence in his protection.

“Glorious Saint Raymond of Peñafort, wise and holy patron,

come to the aid of those entrusted to your care,

and all who flee to your protection.

Intercede for us in our need,

and help us through your prayers, example, and teaching,

to proclaim the truth of the Gospel to all we meet.

And when we have reached the fullness of our years,

we beseech you to guide us home to heaven,

to live in peace with you, Our Mother Mary,

And Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles