June 20, 2020 Column Father De Celles

Father James Waalkes. Congratulations to parishioner Father Waalkes, who was ordained a priest last Saturday, June 6. He has been assigned as Parochial Vicar at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Falls Church, effective June 25, 2020. Hopefully, he will be here soon to offer a Sunday Mass for us.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Today is “Corpus Christi Sunday,” a feast established to remind us that, even as Lent and Easter are over, the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection and His continued presence on Earth remains with us in a most sublime way in the Eucharist. In particular, we remember that the bread and wine really become the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ Himself—His Real Presence among us.

            This feast should have a special significance to us this year, after not being able to celebrate Holy Thursday, Good Friday or Easter together. I pray to God that the pain we have all felt during the months of missing Holy Mass and Holy Communion will translate into a more sincere love for our Lord in the Eucharist, a more devout appreciation of His Real Presence, and a more dire hunger for consuming the Lamb of God slain for us, the Bread of Life.

            So let’s consider how we act to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

            — Do we show reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament? Do we genuflect before Our Lord present in the tabernacle whenever we enter the church (usually before sitting in our pew) or whenever we pass in front of the tabernacle? Do we chat loudly in church as if the Lord of Heaven were not present?

            — How do we dress at Mass, especially on Sunday? Like we are going to the Wedding Feast of Our King, or going to the beach? Do we remember that skimpy clothing can be a near occasion of sin for others, and so dress modestly at Mass?

            — How do we act during Mass? Do we focus prayerfully on the miracle transpiring on the altar, especially during and after the consecration? Do we chat and laugh with each other, ignoring the solemnity of the Mass?

            — How do we receive Holy Communion? Do we observe the Eucharistic fast for one hour before Communion? Do we examine our consciences, so we don’t receive unworthily (i.e., in the state of mortal sin)? Do we approach prayerfully, or distracted? Do we carefully show some sign of reverence immediately before receiving Holy Communion: bowing, genuflecting, or even kneeling? Do we prayerfully receive as a profound act of faith and love?

If we receive on the tongue: To avoid any chance of the Host being dropped, do we stand close enough to the priest, open our mouths and extend our tongues? Do we hold still our heads, tongues and mouths (not lurching, licking or biting) until we receive and the priest removes his hand?

If we receive in our hand: Do we wash our hands before Mass? Do we extend both hands, one on top of the other, forming a throne for Our King? Do we examine our hands to make sure no particles remain?

     — Do we remember that Jesus remains in the tabernacle after Mass? Do we stay a few minutes after Mass is over to give thanks, or do we rush out of church as soon as possible? Do we drop by the church during the week to visit Our Lord in the tabernacle? Do we spend time with Our Lord during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament? Do we share our faith in the Eucharist with others? Do we activelyteach our children to do all these things?

I am continually moved by the Eucharistic reverence at St. Raymond’s. But it is one of my primary goals as your pastor to help you to constantly grow in your love and devotion to This Great Gift.

Communion Rail and Pulpit Project. As I mentioned last week,we are scheduled to begin work on the installation of the new marble altar rails and pulpit tomorrow, Monday, June 15. The work will be basically in 2 stages.

The first stage is essentially construction and tile-work, to make the first step of the sanctuary much wider and re-tile that whole front part of the sanctuary, and add tile to the area in front of the statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph.

So, beginning tomorrow, we will be closing off the entire sanctuary for the next 3 to 4 weeks. During this time,we will set up a temporary sanctuary by placing a wooden altar in front of the sanctuary, and removing the current wooden altar rail and (temporarily) 2 front pews.

The second step will be to install the actual altar rails and pulpit. I’m hoping this will happen as soon as the sanctuary reconstruction/tiling is finished. However…. Italy has been closed down for months, and the rails are still in transit…. Fortunately, the installation of the rails and pulpit can be done within a week, maybe during the weekdays, so…

I realize that with all the restraints of the last 3 months you may not like the idea of using such temporary altar, etc., believe me, I don’t like it either for the same reasons. But when we’re done, we’ll have a beautiful new Altar Rail.

Racism. As I said in my homily last Sunday: “…Racism is a belief that different races, including different ethnic groups, are inherent naturally superior and inferior to each other.… And that is a terrible sin: Racism is absolutely contrary to the unity and love of the Trinitarian God in whose image we are all created….

“America will not be saved from the sin of racism and unjust prejudices by fear, anger, hatred or violence. America can only be saved, only be the UNITED States, if individual Americans, like you and me, accept that we are all created in the image of the unity and love of the God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Acknowledging that this is the very basis of the founding principle of our country, that, ‘all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…..’ And so understand that racism and unjust prejudice, are directly repugnant not only to the love of God but to the very meaning of what it means to be a human being.”

“Defund the Police.” That’s the dumbest thing I think I’ve ever heard. God bless our men and women in blue, and all law enforcement officers. Thank you for your service! Yes there are some bad apples in the ranks, but—there are some bad priests, fathers, mothers, spouses and children, too. And bad doctors, nurses, waitresses and construction workers, etc. But most of us are all just trying to do our jobs and vocations as best we can. God rid us of bad cops, but God bless the vast majority of good and dedicated police officers who protect us so well.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles