February 11, 2023 Column Father De Celles

Sexagesima Sunday. In the “old days” (50 or so years ago) the three Sundays before Ash
Wednesday were called Septuagesima (“seventieth”), Sexagesima (“sixtieth”) and Quinquagesima
(“fiftieth”) Sundays, respectively, referring to the days left before Easter (approximately). This was
done to remind us that Lent “Quadragesima,” (“forty”) was approaching, in order that we might begin
to prepare for Lent.
There was a lot of wisdom of this practice in the “old calendar.” Preparing for Lent doesn’t
involve beginning to do extra penances, etc. of Lent, but it can involve thinking about what those
penances should be. Considering what sins I really need to work on, whether particular mortal sins,
or even particular venial sins that are habitual, i.e., a “vice.” And then figuring out what sacrifices,
prayers and acts of charity I should adopt as Lenten penances to help me to overcome them, with
Christ’s grace. Or maybe I want to grow in a particular virtue. Maybe you want to be kinder to your
spouse, or more honoring of your parents. What penance(s) would help you to do this?
Last Sunday was Septuagesima Sunday and today is Sexagesima Sunday, and Ash
Wednesday is 10 days away. So start to think and pray about what you can do for Lent that it may
be truly fruitful.
Altar Rail. By now all of you are aware that on Thursday, February 2, at the 8:30 Mass, one of the 4
altar rails collapsed and broke into parts. If you haven’t seen it, you should watch the video of the
collapse—it is surreal (we sent you this in an email). I was standing at the rail at the time, distributing
Communion, and suddenly saw the rail and people at the rail start to move toward me. I remember
thinking, “What the heck? This can’t happen.” But it did happen. Thanks be to God, no one was hurt.
The heavy top block of marble fell literally right at my feet, even hit the toe of my shoe—fortunately,
my toe was actually a few millimeters to the left of where it fell. Thanks, Guardian Angel!
We’ve since had a chance to meet with the folks who designed and installed the rail, with
whom I have worked for many years. Their assessment is that the collapse was due to a
combination of factors, which I will try to briefly summarize.
First, the columns were composed of 3 parts—the capital (top), the base and the pillar itself
(the orange marble). These three parts should have been joined together using both an adhesive (a
very strong epoxy) and an iron rebar. But no rebar was used. Second, the veins we see in marble
can sometimes create structural weaknesses, and the particular type of marble we used has a a
somewhat higher tendency toward this weakness (which made it particularly important to reinforce
with rebar). And third, the heavy weight of the flat stone forming the top surface of the rail also
necessitated some sort of reinforcement in the columns, i.e., again, the rebar. All these factors
combined to create a problem, which continues to exist in the 3 standing altar rails.
The good news is we can fix the problem pretty straightforwardly. First, the collapsed altar
rail can be repaired by our very skilled artisan. And second, since remanufacturing and reinstalling
all 4 rails is not practical (remember all the problems we had getting them made and shipped from
Italy), we will instead install new rebar reinforced marble covered columns (embedded in the
concrete floor beneath the marble floor) at the ends of all four rails that will provide the support that
is currently lacking. I am currently awaiting the drawings and specs of the proposed reinforcing
columns, and they will be reviewed by our diocesan engineers. But all parties seem confident in this
solution. And I am told that the project should be complete within four weeks. Please God.
In the meantime, the potential weakness still exists in the currently standing altar
rails. So even though the danger seems remote, nevertheless I strongly remind you: until the
repairs/reinforcements are made, when you stand or kneel at the altar rails, DO NOT LEAN, PUSH
OR OTHERWISE PUT WEIGHT ON THE RAILS. And pray that through the intercession and
intervention of St. Joseph the Carpenter, St. Raymond and our Guardian Angel, the repairs may be
completed swiftly and successfully.
Giving. Last Sunday I spoke and wrote about giving to the BLA, as well as increased giving to the
parish. I don’t know yet how folks have responded or will respond to the BLA, but I do know that
many of you have already increased your giving commitment to the parish either by adjusting your
Faith Direct accounts or informing me directly. Thanks.

Still others have asked me to clarify the different ways to give to the parish. In general, you
have two options: you can make direct monetary donations to the parish by check or cash, or you
can use the online payment method of Faith Direct.
Given that, more specifically there are several different “funds” you can donate to
(“funds” is not a technical or legal term, but I use it here for convenience). First, the offertory
“fund.” Typically this includes any amounts you drop in the basket for the first collection on Sundays
or Holy Days, or otherwise specifically designate as an offertory gift, i.e., on your envelope, check or
on Faith Direct.
Alternatively, you can designate even the amount you contribute on Sundays as going
toward one of two other “funds”: either the “Maintenance Fund” or the “Our Lady of Ransom
Scholarship Fund” (OLRS Fund). To do this 1) use the special envelope designated for those
funds, or 2) write the name of the fund on your check, or 3) select one of those funds on Faith Direct.
Amounts donated to these two funds are ”restricted” and must be used for those stated purposes
(maintenance or scholarships).
And the fourth alternative, you can simply send or deliver a check to the rectory at any time
other than Sunday or a Holy Day (some folks just mail a check to the rectory once or few times a
year) and either specify that it is 1) not for the Offertory, or 2) for the Maintenance Fund or OLRS
Fund, or 3) simply a “donation.”
So in summary, there are four basic funds you can give to when giving to the parish: 1)
Offertory, 2) Maintenance, 3) OLR Scholarship, or 4) other Donations. Note that 10% of the
contributions to the Offertory Fund must be paid to the Diocese, while all other donations (2, 3 and 4)
stay 100% with the parish.
Super Bowl. I apologize to all you Eagles fans, but being a life-long Cowboy fan I just can’t bring
myself to root for them. And since Kansas City is the original hometown of my parents and siblings
and still the home of most of my relatives, I’m a natural, if not avid, Chiefs fan. Enjoy the game!
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles