January 8, 2022 Column Father De Celles

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. “When the Baptist saw Jesus, in line with sinners, having come to be baptized, he is stunned; recognizing him as the Messiah, the Holy One of God, he who is without sin, John shows his confusion: He himself, the baptizer wanted to be baptized by Jesus. But Jesus tells him not to resist, to agree to carry out this act, to do what is proper to “fulfill all justice.” With this expression, Jesus shows that he came into the world to do the will of him who sent him, to do everything that the Father asks him; it is in obedience to the Father that he has agreed to become man. This gesture reveals first of all who Jesus is: He is the Son of God, true God like the Father; it is he who “humbled himself” to become one of us, he who became man and agreed to humble himself to the point of death on the cross (cf. Phil 2:7). The baptism of Jesus…fits into this logic of humility: It is the gesture of one who wants to be one of us in everything and gets in line with sinners; he, who is without sin, lets himself be treated as a sinner (cf. 2 Cor 5:21), to carry on his shoulders the burden of guilt of all humanity.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, January 9, 2011.)

Christmas Ends, and Continues. Today we end the season of Christmas. But as this special liturgical celebration of Christmas ends, the celebration of the essence and meaning of Christmas must continue. By that I don’t mean the secular or sentimental celebration of Christmas, but rather the celebration of the fact that the eternal God the Son condescended to be born a vulnerable baby, in order that He enter fully into our human life, and by His human life, death and resurrection transform that life. Christ came to change us, so let’s allow Him to change our lives, and go into this new year recommitted to truly love Him and our neighbor as He taught and showed us, to live the life of grace, hope, faith and love. The life of Jesus Christ, who came to us on Christmas day to change us and to remain with us throughout the year, and all our lives.

March for Life. On Friday, January 21, Christians and other people of goodwill from all over the U.S. will participate in the 48th annual “March for Life” on the Mall in Washington, commemorating the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade creating the so-called “right to abortion.” I say “48th annual,” but last year’s March (the “47th annual”) was cancelled due to Covid. And although I know there are still concerns about Covid, I’m hoping this year’s March will have the turnout it deserves, and as God wills.

Perhaps no court decision or legislation has so directly and fundamentally had such a wide and terrible effect on our nation as Roe. And not only in the devastation of over 60 million babies it has killed, or the millions of mothers whose lives it has ruined. But also in its shaping of our American culture into a culture that degrades human life more and more every day, transforming human beings from persons whose lives have value and meaning in themselves into things that can be manipulated or killed at the whim of others, or themselves. We see the absurd results of this culture in the so-called transgender movement.

This year the Supreme Court, in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is poised to overturn or at least radically diminish the application of Roe, most probably returning the abortion issue to the states to decide. But if it doesn’t happen this year with this case and these Justices, Roe will probably stay the law of the land for the foreseeable future.

On January 21 we will have 4 buses ready to take St. Raymond parishioners down to the Mall to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Life, including the Lord’s calls to all of us to love our neighbor, even if our neighbor is a tiny unborn baby. Please join us. Sign-up sheets for the bus are located in the narthex of the Church today.

For those of you who cannot go down to the Mall, we will have Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament all day until the buses return. An email will be coming soon for you to sign up for an hour of adoration, but you don’t need to sign up to come and pray.

Parish Volunteers. I’ve always said that one of the best ways to grow in your Catholic faith is to become active in some parish group or committee. It may not be as essential as receiving the Sacraments, reading the Scriptures, or studying the Catechism, but getting involved in parish activities can be a great way to discover the meaning of Christian service, as well as the support of your fellow parishioners. I know when I was a lay adult sitting in the pew that was an important factor contributing to deepening my faith. Sometimes the parish can seem so big and impersonal, but involvement in a particular small group or activity of the parish can really help you become involved in the life of the whole parish. Not only does this create a personal and familial sense of belonging, but it also draws you deeper into the life of the whole parish and the whole Church—you meet more people, make more good Catholic friends and you learn about more opportunities to serve and to be served.

            So, once again, I encourage you to resolve to take a more active part in the life our parish, and to do so as did the Lord Jesus, who “came to serve, not to be served.” Resolve to become a committed volunteer for one or more activities or groups in the parish.

            Many St. Raymond parishioners have a strong history of committed volunteerism (God bless you!). Sometimes, however, this causes others (especially newcomers) to think that their help isn’t needed. But the reality is just the opposite: we constantly need fresh ideas, younger muscles, new voices, etc. And we can’t grow or improve if we don’t have more help!

            This is especially true this year. Covid has significantly diminished our number of volunteers, with many of our regulars stepping back a bit with understandable concerns (especially our older volunteers). So I really need your help this year.

So I encourage folks who aren’t committed to some volunteer parish activity now to do so in 2022, especially those who are newer to our parish. And I encourage those of you who stepped back during Covid to step up again, if you can—and invite other parishioners you meet to join you!

            I know people are still concerned about Covid, and that all of us are busy, and that many of you are already serving the Lord in many ways outside of the parish. But as we begin this New Year, I beg you to think and pray seriously about the specific ways you can volunteer in our parish.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles