December 31, 2022 Column Father De Celles

Anno Domini 2023. Does it surprise you that I have no use at all for the designation “CE,” short for
“Current Era” or “Common Era,” to count the years? I.e., “2023 CE,” rather than traditional “2023
AD,” short for “Anno Domini,” meaning, “Year of the Lord.” But the Current/Common Era is still
counted by reference to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ in the year 1. So, I refuse to yield to the
tyranny of social correctness and will continue to use the traditional and rational “AD,” and
encourage you to do so, at least in private usage. And in doing so, I pray that it will become more
than just a way of counting the years, but rather a way of dedicating the years: let us make this new
year of 2023 truly the Year of the Lord, dedicating ourselves anew to the Lord Jesus.
As we continue the Christmas Season in this New Year of the Lord 2023, I pray that the
Christ Child will shower you with His grace, His Blessed Mother Mary will keep you in her tender
embrace, and St. Joseph will protect you in all you do. And I wish you Blessed and Merry Christmas,
and Holy and Happy New Year!
Celebrating the Feast of St. Raymond of Peñafort. Next Saturday, January 7, is our patronal feast
day, the Feast of St. Raymond. Since it falls on a Saturday this year we are somewhat limited in how
we can celebrate it liturgically—we can’t have an evening Mass in his honor since that would be the
Vigil Mass for Epiphany Sunday. So, I encourage you to attend the 9am Mass that morning to honor
our great patron and to seek his intercession.
Another great way to honor St. Raymond and to draw closer to him is to read the little
biographical book we have available in the Gift Shop and parish office. If you haven’t read it, take
some time this week to do so.
Finally, another way we are celebrating his feast this year is with our annual Volunteer
Reception/Dinner. If you have volunteered in any capacity in the parish this last year, you and your
spouse are invited to our annual appreciation dinner for parish volunteers this Saturday, January 7. If
you haven’t RSVPed yet, please contact the parish office or your committee chairman asap.
Year End Donations. Every year at this time, we all get inundated with requests for donations. The
problem is knowing which charities are really worthy of our consideration. Unfortunately, many so-
called “charities” are not doing work consistent with God’s will, and some are actually working
against Him. Still others may have good intentions, but are inefficient or ineffective in using their
resources. So, we don’t have to give to every group who asks for help, and I recommend you give
mainly to those groups you have confidence in. These, of course, are many. But the groups I give to
and would recommend for your consideration include: the Little Sisters of the Poor, Catholic
Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, House of Mercy, Project Rachel, Gabriel Project, AAA Women
for Choice, Mary’s Shelter (Fredericksburg), the Poor Clares, Angelus Academy and, my personal
favorite, St. Dominic Monastery in Linden, VA, our dear cloistered Dominican sisters who pray for us
every day. And of course, St. Raymond’s parish is a very worthy charity…

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January 1, 1979
Entering the doors of this Basilica today,…I do so on the day of the octave of Christmas. Today is
already the eighth day of this great feast which, according to the rhythm of the liturgy, concludes and
begins every year.
The year is the human measure of time. Time speaks to us of the “passing” to which the
whole of creation is subjected. Man is aware of this passing. Not only does he go through time, but
he also “measures the time” of his passing: time made of days, weeks, months and years. In this
human flow there is always the sadness of farewell to the past and, at the same time, opening to the
Precisely this farewell to the past and this opening to the future are inscribed, by means of

the language and rhythm of the liturgy of the Church, in the solemnity of the Lord’s Nativity.
Birth always speaks of a beginning, the beginning of what is born. The Lord’s Nativity speaks
of an extraordinary beginning. In the first place it speaks of that beginning which precedes any time,
of the origin that is God himself, without a beginning. During this octave we have been nourished
every day on the mystery of perennial generation in God, the mystery of the Son generated eternally
by the Father: “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made”
(Profession of Faith).
In these days we have also been, in a particular way, witnesses of the earthly birth of this
Son. Being born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary as Man, “Word-God, he accepts time. He enters
history. He submits to the law of human flow. He closes the past: with him there ends the time of
expectation, that is, the Old Covenant. He opens the future: the New Covenant of grace and
reconciliation with God. He is the new “Beginning” of the New Time. Every new year participates in
this Beginning. It is the Year of the Lord. Welcome, Year 1979! From the very beginning you are the
measure of the new time, inscribed in the mystery of the birth of God!
…3. Today the church particularly venerates the Motherhood of Mary. This is, as it were, a
last message of the octave of Christmas. Birth always speaks of the Begetter, of her who gives life,
of her who gives man to the world. The first day of the New Year is Mother’s day.
We see her then—as in so many pictures and sculptures—with the Child in her arms, with
the Child at her breast. The Mother, she who begot and fed the Son of God. The Mother of Christ.
There is no image that is better known and that speaks in a more simple way of the mystery of the
Lord’s birth than that of the Mother with Jesus in her arms. Is not this image, perhaps, the source of
our extraordinary confidence? Is it not just this image that allows us to live in the circle of all the
mysteries of our faith, and, while contemplating them as “divine”, to consider them at the same time
so “human”?
But there is yet another image of the Mother with her Son in her arms. It is in this basilica: it
is “la Pietà”: Mary with Jesus taken from the Cross; with Jesus who died before her eyes, on Mount
Golgotha, and who after death returns to those arms on which he was offered as Saviour of the
world at Bethlehem…..
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles