The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

December 31, 2023 Column Father De Celles News

Holy Family Sunday. Here is what the great Pope St. John Paul II had to say about this feast (Homily, December 31, 1978 (Excerpt):

“The deepest human problems are connected with the family. It constitutes the primary, fundamental and irreplaceable community for man….The Church wishes to bear a particular witness to that too during the Octave of Christmas, by means of the feast of the Holy Family. She wishes to recall that the fundamental values, which cannot be violated without incalculable harm of a moral nature, are bound up with the family… It is necessary to defend these fundamental values tenaciously and firmly, because their violation does incalculable harm to society and, in the last analysis, to man….

“What are these values? … [T]rying to express ourself concisely, let us say that here it is a question of two fundamental values which fall strictly into the context of what we call “conjugal love”. The first of them is the value of the person which is expressed in absolute mutual faithfulness until death: the faithfulness of the husband to his wife and of the wife to her husband. The consequence of this affirmation of the value of the person, which is expressed in the mutual relationship between husband and wife, must also be respect for the personal value of the new life, that is, of the child, from the first moment of his conception.

“The Church can never dispense herself from the obligation of guarding these two fundamental values, connected with the vocation of the family…”

New Year’s. Tomorrow, January 1, 2024, is of course, New Year’s Day and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Together with the priests and the staff of St. Raymond’s, I wish you a Happy, blessed and holy New Year.

Normally, Mary, Mother of God is a Holy Day of Obligation. But since it falls on a Monday this year, it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, and you don’t have to go to Mass. I would still recommend you do so, to honor Our Mother and to begin the year on the right foot. Maybe I’ll see some of you at Midnight Mass tonight: we keep things very simple at this Mass, but it’s the perfect way to bring in the New Year. We will also have Masses at 5pm tonight/Sunday (Vigil), and tomorrow/Monday at 9am, 11am and 1pm (no 7am Mass).

Merry Christmas! The celebration of the Birth of God the Son, Jesus Christ, is too great an event to celebrate on only one day, so Christmas continues well past December 25th. First, we have the “Octave of Christmas,” eight days of celebrating, ending tomorrow, as if it were still the Lord’s birthday. Beyond that we have “the twelve days of Christmas” running from Christmas day until January 6, which in most of the world is the Solemnity of the Epiphany. In the U.S., however, the liturgical celebration of Epiphany is always moved to “the Sunday occurring between 2 January and 8 January.” Then, normally we continue to celebrate “Season of Christmas” for an extra week, until the following Sunday which is usually the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. This year, however, just as we had the shortest Advent possible, we also have the shortest Season of Christmas possible, with the Baptism of the Lord falling on Monday, January 8. Even so, we are still celebrating Christmas, so “Merry Christmas.”

Volunteer Dinner. This coming Saturday, January 6, is our annual dinner in appreciation for all those who volunteer their time to support the activities of the parish. If that should include you, and you haven’t rsvp’d yet, please contact the parish office.

Solemnity of St. Raymond. Our patron saint’s feast is normally celebrated on January 7, but this year that falls not only on a Sunday but on the same day as Epiphany Sunday, so our saint’s feast is liturgically suppressed on the 7th. So… with the permission of Bishop Burbidge, I am transferring the liturgical observation of St. Raymond’s to the following Sunday, January 14th. So two Sundays from now all the Sunday Masses (including the Vigil) will celebrate Solemnity of St. Raymond. In conjunction with this celebration, the Knights of Columbus will be sponsoring a free pancake breakfast after the 7am, 9am, and 11am Sunday morning Masses. All are welcome!

Year End Donations. Every year at this time we get inundated with requests for donations. Unfortunately, many so-called “charities” are not doing work consistent with God’s will, and 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.

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, Mary’s Shelter (Fredericksburg), the Poor Clares, Angelus Academy and St. Dominic Monastery in Linden, VA.

And of course my favorite charities are St. Raymond’s parish and the Our Lady of Ransom Scholarship Fund…

We Have a Facilities Manager! For months now we’ve been looking for a new Facilities/Plant Manager, and now we’ve found one as Mike Thompson, a long-time parishioner, joins our staff. I’m so happy he’s come on board and look forward to working with him. I thank God for His providence. Please keep him in your prayers as he begins his work for you.

I also want to thank Anthony Hansen, who has been filling in as a part-time/temporary Facilities Manager. He did an excellent job at great personal sacrifice. I can’t say how much I appreciate his excellent work.

And I also thank Mary Butler, who continues to be the All-Star utility player on our staff, for working with Anthony to keep things going.

Priestly Blessings. I know many of you are upset about the new Vatican document, Fiducia Supplicans, about priests giving blessings to same-sex couples. I plan to go into it in more detail later, but very briefly now….

First of all, the document is extremely problematic as its studied ambiguity has predictably led the media and “LGBTQ+” crowd to interpret it as the next step in changing Catholic teaching on marriage. The document is already  the cause of terrible scandal among the faithful and the unfaithful alike. That this was not foreseen by its authors is hard to imagine.

But most importantly, the logic, teaching and conclusions of the document are so radically flawed that FS contradicts itself, leaving the faithful confused. And we are never bound by confusion. As Cardinal Gerhard Muller points out in his commentary (an absolutely superb analysis of the document), “[C]an a faithful Catholic accept the teaching of FS? ….[A]s long as Pope Francis continues to affirm that homosexual unions are always contrary to God’s law, he is implicitly affirming that such blessings cannot be given. The teaching of FS is therefore self-contradictory and thus requires further clarification….”

Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles