Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday

June 8, 2014 Column Father De Celles

Pentecost: Veni Sancte Spiritu! This Sunday’s readings tell us that the Holy Spirit first descended on the early Christians with “a noise like a strong driving wind,” and appeared like “tongues as of fire.” After this they “began to speak in different tongues” so that the people gathered in Jerusalem “from every nation under heaven” could hear them “speaking in his own language.”

That same Holy Spirit descended on each of us in Baptism, and came again to strengthen (“confirm”) His gifts in us in our Confirmations. By the baptismal indwelling of the Spirit we were united to the Divine life of Jesus Christ, and in Confirmation we were given the gifts to live the fullness of the faith amidst the great challenges of world. These gifts help us individually to get to heaven, by loving God and our neighbor, but they are also meant to help us proclaim the Gospel to all those around us, just as the first Christians did.

And the Holy Spirit does not merely come to individuals, He comes and dwells in the Church as One Body of Christ. Because of this no gift of the Holy Spirit is meant merely for personal enhancement separate from the Church, or contrary to the unity of the Church.

Let us pray to Christ and His Father, to renew in us the powerful presence of their Holy Spirit within each of us and within the whole Church. And let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to use His gifts to become the Christians we are called to be.


High School Graduations. This is the season of High School graduations, and many of our young men and women are rightly celebrating this great achievement. Congratulations to all of you!

It’s a time of mixed emotions for all of us. As the graduates look back they are filled with a sense of both joy and sadness; and as they look forward they are filled with hope, but also a little fear. Parents and family and friends share in these emotions.

With all this going on it can be easy to forget that the cause for our joy and hope is the Lord Jesus, who gave these young men and women all the gifts they have and will so diligently put to good use. When we look at them we should thank the Lord for His generosity. But we must also turn to Him to commend them to His continuing care. As rightly excited as they and we are about their future, the world they enter is a much more difficult, dangerous, and sinful place than the world many of us entered when we graduated high school years ago. They will need the Lord’s grace every step of the way to navigate the many challenges ahead.

What an exciting time for you, my young friends, my sons and daughters in Christ. Congratulations for all you have achieved, and my prayers go with you for a bright and happy future. Always remember that it was Christ who gave you everything you have, and it is Christ to whom you must look for everything you really need in the future. I know that He loves you infinitely more than we do—and we love you very much—and that He will never abandon you; I only hope you know that, and that you will always love and never abandon Him.

Remember, strive to use your gifts wisely, and rejoice in the “success” this brings you. But keep Jesus first in all things, so that throughout the successes and failures of life you may know His truth and love, and His peace and joy.


Speaking of Graduates. There is a special subset of graduates I’d like to honor—our Altar Servers: Josh Baldera, James Hildebrand, Tom Jackson, and Adam Murray. While many boys serve during grade school, to go on serving in high school shows an inspiring level of dedication. I’m very proud of all of our high school servers, but especially of these four graduates for having “finished the race.” I will have a few more things to say to honor each of them individually as each of them serves their final Mass in the next few weeks.

One server who I will not be able to honor properly at Sunday Mass is Patrick Gelbach. Although not a regular server at our Sunday Masses, Patrick has been serving at our Extraordinary Form Mass on Friday nights for several years. I thank him for his service and I’m proud to congratulate him for being named 2014 Valedictorian for St. John Paul the Great High School.

May the Lord Jesus bless all our graduates as they grow into the fullness of their life in Christ; by the power of His Holy Spirit may you continue to “fight the good fight…and keep the faith.”


New Priests and Assignments. Yesterday, Saturday, June 7, Bishop Loverde ordained 5 new priests for the Diocese of Arlington. Congratulations to them—and thanks be to God for their vocations.

Besides these ordinations, Saturday also included the annual announcement of new assignments for priests around the Diocese. As of this writing (June 4) I don’t know the list of transfers. (You can find them on the Diocesan website). I can only say that there will be no changes here at St. Raymond’s. But there will be some important changes around the Diocese—not the least of which will be a new pastor for our neighboring parish, Nativity.

Please keep all these priests in your prayers during the next few weeks. As we all know, change is difficult, especially when it involves moving to a new assignment and new residence.


Other Newly Ordained Priests. Next Saturday, June 14, two young men from our Diocese, Daniel Heenan and Zack Akers, will be ordained as priests at St. John’s in Leesburg.  They are members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP).The new Father Heenan will celebrate a “first Mass” here at St. Raymond’s on Friday, June 20. It will be a “High Mass” (a “Sung Mass”), which is very beautiful. I invite all of you to attend and pray for all the newly ordained, and for even more priestly vocations from the Diocese.


Save the Dates. The Third Annual “Fortnight for Freedom” will run from Saturday June 21 through July 4, and will include Eucharistic Holy Hours every day. I also encourage you to sign up for our bus to attend this year’s “March for Marriage” on Thursday, June 19th, in Washington. The March is sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Signup sheets for the bus are in the narthex, or contact


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles