June 5, 2021 Column Father De Celles

Sunday Mass Obligation returns! You have probably heard by now that Bishop Burbidge has reinstated the obligation to attend Sunday (and all Holy Day) Mass for all Catholics in the Arlington Diocese, effective Sunday, June 27. As always, some people are exempt from the obligation: “those who are ill; those who have reason to believe that they were recently exposed to the coronavirus, another serious or contagious illness; those who are confined to their home, a hospital, or nursing facility; or those with serious underlying health conditions”; or those with “some other serious reason (for example,… the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.” Of course, the Sunday obligation can be fulfilled on the previous evening at the Saturday Vigil Mass.

If you have any question as to whether you are obligated to attend Mass on Sundays let me know. Remember, as the Catechism states (2181) “Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.”

            I am very happy with this decision. I hope that Covid has taught us all how important the Holy Eucharist is, and the wisdom of the Church’s obligation to keep the Sabbath holy by attending Sunday Mass. I have been very edified by those who have told me they feel badly for missing Mass during the last few months, recognizing there is no “legal” obligation but feeling the personal sense of failure of piety, and recognizing that it is important we come together as One Church on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, united in the celebration of the One Eucharist throughout the world.

            So, come back to Sunday Mass, not just because you have to, but because you know in your hearts that you really should be here—this is where you belong on Sunday. And don’t wait till the 26th/27th and the obligation. And kindly and respectfully remind and encourage your friends who are staying away to do the same.

            That being said, I know some of you can’t come back for serious reasons, and so are not obligated. For many, this is a terrible sorrow. I understand and feel for you. Know you are in our prayers, and that there is no guilt, even though there may be sadness. God bless you!

Corpus Christi Sunday. All this makes today’s celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi, or “The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ,’ all that much more meaningful and important. It serves as a reminder every year, but especially this year, of how amazing and important the Eucharist is to our life in Christ.

How much of the truth about the Eucharist do we take for granted or forget? How much do we not even know? Over the last 50 years many of the truths about the Eucharist have been downplayed, ignored, or even denied in preaching and catechesis. Thanks be to God, St. Raymond’s parishioners have developed a strong devotion to the Eucharist. Our beautiful church building testifies to this, saying: “this is the house of the Lord, where He is worshipped adored and loved, and where He remains truly, bodily, present.”

            Even so, there is still much work to do for all of us. As St. John Paul II used to say, “the body speaks.” The bodily Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ speaks to us saying, “This is my body given up for you.” But how do our bodies speak back to Him? Our bodily expressions of faith and devotion toward the Eucharist speak volumes, both to others and to ourselves. So please consider the following. DO WE:

* genuflect before Our Lord present in the tabernacle? (we do not merely bow to Our Lord unless it is truly difficult to genuflect)

* chat loudly in church as if the Lord of Heaven were not present?

* spend time with Our Lord during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament?

* dress modestly and respectfully at Mass?

* focus prayerfully on the miracle transpiring on the altar during Mass?

* receive Holy Communion reverently?

* observe the Eucharistic fast for one hour before Communion?

* examine our consciences so we don’t receive unworthily?

* refrain from receiving if we are not in the state of grace (an unconfessed mortal sin)?

* approach Communion prayerfully, not looking around or laughing?

* show some sign of reverence immediately before receiving Holy Communion: bowing or genuflecting, or even kneeling?

* If we receive in our hands:

* Did we wash our hands before Mass, or are we presenting dirty hands?

* Do we extend both hands, one on top of the other?

* Do we extend our hands flat, like a plate, not like a bowl?

* Do we immediately reverently consume the Host at the altar rail?

* Do we stay after Mass to give thanks?

* Do we teach our children to do these things?

I am always moved and edified by the level of reverence our parish displays at Mass and during Communion. But we can all use a reminder now and again.

Transgender Pronouns. In the last week or so you probably hear that a Loudoun County Public School gym teacher was suspended after publicly stating he would not bend to the LCPS policy to pretend that boys can be girls and girls can be boys. As the Washington Times reports:

            “Byron Tanner Cross told Loudoun County Public School board members at a meeting last Tuesday that the policy violates his Christian beliefs. “I’m a teacher, but I serve God first,” Mr. Cross said. “I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion, it’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child and it’s sinning against our God.”

On Thursday, he received a letter saying he was being placed on administrative leave …The draft of the policy at issue is called “Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students.” The proposal states that “LCPS staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence…”

…Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee for governor of Virginia, called on the school system to reinstate Mr. Cross …“What we’re seeing right here right now in Loudoun County is the liberal left waging a cultural war and the victims are children. And who’s standing up for them? Not the politicians but in fact parents and teachers”….

A group of local parents last week issued an email stating that the school board “rolled” another teacher under the bus “in order to please their activist base.” The parents, who are part of a recently formed political action committee called Fight for Schools, have been at odds with the nine-member school board for months.….

Meanwhile, the Loudoun County Democratic Party is calling on Mr. Hamrick to recant the “inflammatory and insidious remarks….”

God bless Mr. Cross, Mr. Youngkin and the parents in “Fight for Schools.” While we don’t have to fight every battle, we can NEVER lie by calling a boy a girl or a girl a boy—or use feminine pronouns for boys and vice versa. That is not only a lie but an affirmative verbal approval of the greater lie of transgender theory.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles