May 12, 2024 Column Father De Celles News

Ascension of the Lord. Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, the day in history, 40 days after the first Easter, that Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended body and soul into heaven. This great culmination of the Paschal Mystery, along with the bodily death and resurrection of Jesus, has many profound ramifications for us today.

The importance of the mystery of the Ascension is often overlooked or forgotten by Christians, but it must not be, since it is critical to our understanding of Christ and ourselves. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes:

665 Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf. Col 3:3).

666 Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him for ever.

667 Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

But perhaps the most immediate meaning of this feast for us today is the reminder of the great dignity and profound meaning of the human body: that the body is not merely an empty shell temporarily inhabited by our souls, but rather it is part of who we are, that part that communicates ourselves to others. As St. John Paul II used to say so often: “the body speaks!” The words of our mouth talk to others, our hands express our creativity and helpfulness, our feet take us to be with family and friends, etc.

Nowadays people especially forget that our bodies communicate our sexuality—our maleness and femaleness— and through that express our openness to the self-gift (of body and soul) of marital and paternal love. In a time of great confusion surrounding sexuality, “gender,” marriage and family, we need to open our eyes to the most basic, simple and
common-sense lessons our bodies teach us.

Happy Mother’s Day. I’m sure you Moms haven’t minded me placing the Lord’s feast first—I’m “sure” because that’s how Moms are! Always placing others first. And that’s why we love Moms, and motherhood, so much, and truly revere them. As I spoke above of the meaning and dignity of the body, motherhood is yet another expression of this meaning. What a miraculous gift and blessing—to mothers, husbands, children and to all society—is the motherly love expressed so tenderly and yet powerfully through a mother’s bodily acts: carrying a baby in her womb for 9 months, the sacrificial pangs of childbirth, nursing her baby at her breast, holding her child in her arms, kissing the scraped knee, the smile that makes everything better, or the tears of compassion or pride.

Thank the Good Lord Jesus for the gift of mothers! On this special day, and every day, may the Lord give us the grace to show them the love that they deserve.

And Moms: thank you for all you are and do for us; may the good Lord Jesus bless you and may His Mother Mary keep you in her tender embrace forever. And let us pray for those who have gone on before us into death: may the Lord forgive them for their imperfections, and reward them for their great love.

CCD Summer Break. Religious Education (CCD) for our kids in grade school and high school comes to an end tomorrow, Monday, May 13. Thanks be to God for another successful year!

And thanks to all the kids for coming and studying. I hope you learned more about your Faith, and grew in your understanding of and love for Jesus and His Church. Thanks also to the parents for your cooperation with us, and allowing us to help you as primary educators of your children.

But parents and kids, remember: growing in knowledge and love of Jesus is a year-round project. Enjoy the summertime of freedom from the academic work of education, but do not neglect your prayers, worship and independent learning. Imagine if Jesus took the summer off from paying attention to you!

And thanks to the teachers and their assistants in CCD, and to Mary Hansen who helped coordinate their efforts. What would we—the whole parish—do without you?

And finally, huge thanks to Mary Salmon, our Director of Religious Education, who will be retiring next month. She has done so much and made many sacrifices to make our program the very best I know of.

Parishioners Moving. I love the summer, but I hate all the moves that take place, especially with all the military and government employed families. If you are planning a move this summer, please let the office know. And please let me know, personally. I don’t know all of my parishioners nearly as well as I wish I could, but I love you all and pray for you constantly. So, please, don’t forget to say goodbye.

Bob and Bev Ward. Speaking of moving, today will be Bob and Bev’s last Sunday in the parish, so please join us after the 9am Mass for an informal reception for them in the Parish Hall. And remember to keep them in your prayers! (Correction to last week’s column: Bob is a proud graduate of Wake Forest).

Generous Bequest! Over a year ago we were notified that the Parish had been left a generous bequest in the Will of Alfred Almeida, a parishioner of St. Lawrence who often received the sacraments at St. Raymond’s. After the estate was finally settled last month, we just received a check for $99,910. We’ve put this into savings, perhaps to be used for some future capital improvements, or maybe some more beautification projects for the church or grounds.

Please remember to pray for the soul of Mr. Almeida. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.

But note: this bequest was from a non-parishioner. I encourage all of you, especially those who are more financially blessed, to consider leaving a bequest to the parish in your wills. It’s not always easy to think about these things, but as you plan to leave your estate someday (decades from now I hope) to your spouses, children, etc., I ask you to consider leaving some part of it to St. Raymond’s. Even a gift of 10% or 5%, or even 1%, of your estate could be tremendously helpful for the future life of the parish, and would not dramatically affect what you leave to your family.

The days ahead will be very difficult for the Church. What better legacy can you leave? But it’s your money. Do as you see fit.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles