Return to Pre-COVID! Praised be Jesus Christ! St. Raymond’s is fully “open for
business.” After the Governor’s and CDC’s recent announcements, Bishop Burbidge is
lifting almost all COVID restrictions throughout the Diocese of Arlington, effective
Friday, May 28. This means:
— No occupancy/capacity limits on Mass attendance
— No social distancing
— No extra disinfecting or cleaning between Masses as
expected during the pandemic
— No required face-coverings/masks in any setting, although
unvaccinated persons are still encouraged to wear face
coverings. But no one will be asked about their
vaccination status or to wear masks in any parish setting
Also, the following liturgical elements that were suspended may now be
reintroduced: Holy water, Processions, Collections, and Offertory processions.
The sign of peace (without physical contact between non-family members) is also
allowed, but I will be holding off on this for a while.
The dispensation from the Obligation to attend Sunday and Holy Day Mass
remains in effect for now, but further announcements regarding this matter will be
conveyed in the near future. Nevertheless, in my opinion, all who are able should now
return to Sunday/Holy Day Mass.
Live-streamed Masses will still be offered for the homebound.
Finally, Mass and Confession times will remain as they have been for the last
few months until further notice.
Patience and Charity. As we go back to normal PLEASE remember you are Christians
and show patience and charity with each other as we all get used to “normal” again. If
someone wants to wear a mask, that’s okay. If someone wants-to or doesn’t-want-to get
vaccinated, it’s really up to them and not really our business. Let’s just be glad for the
freedom we have and pray for each other.
Also, be patient with me and the staff, as we adjust to re-opening. There will be a
lot of “oh right, I forgot about that…”
Trinity Sunday. Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, celebrating the most
sublime mystery of our faith: that God is One, in three Divine Persons, Father, Son and
Holy Spirit. It is a “mystery” in that it is something that we know only because God has
revealed it to us, and is something we cannot fully understand because its divine nature is
so far above our human intelligence and experience. This does not mean it is irrational or
imagined—no more than Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is irrational or imagined simply
because it isn’t fully understood by 99.999…% of human beings. I don’t understand how
the world was created—it’s a mystery. But it happened.
I say it’s “sublime” because it reveals something amazingly wonderful about God:
that He is a personal communion of three persons sharing one life and one love. Hence,
St. John would say, “God is love,” and Pope Benedict XVI would say, “for God, life is
love.” So that at the heart of God’s essence…His being…who He most truly is, is this
eternal, total, complete, mutual self-gift between the three Divine Persons in love, that is
at the center of their absolute unity.
And I say “most” sublime because it is really the beginning of all meaning in life
and the end to which all life is directed: living in the love of God. We are created in the
image of this amazing Trinitarian love in order to share in it, both on earth (by loving
God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and loving each other, beginning in the
family) and in heaven. What a glorious Feast.
Next Sunday: Corpus Christi. Next week we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Most
Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Because we haven’t had a chance to plan an outdoor
Corpus Christi procession, we will do the same this year as we did last year: shortly after
the 1pm Mass we will have an indoor procession in the church, followed by a short
period of Adoration, followed by Benediction. Look for an email to come this week with
Memorial Day. This Monday America celebrates Memorial Day, a day of honoring
those in our military who have given their lives not merely for our nation, but for the life,
liberty and happiness of each and every individual American. At the Last Supper Christ
told His apostles, “No greater love has a man than this, that he lay down his life for his
friends.” That saying pertains directly to the death He endured for our salvation on the
very next day, and to a love beyond all measure. But this greatest love is reflected, in a
very real way, in the death of every military man or woman who has laid down their lives
for us. We owe them an incredible debt—one we cannot really repay. But we can try to,
by living lives worthy of the sacrifice they’ve made for us—lives built on the idea of
liberty as a freedom to become the best we can be, not a freedom to do as we please.
Freedom to build a great nation not only of financial wealth or military strength, but of
true virtue. Perhaps a soldier might die for their fellow countrymen’s freedom to say or
do foolish things, but should we repay that noble sacrifice by actually saying and doing
foolish things—or leading immoral lives? I think not.
And there’s another way we can try to repay them for their sacrifice: pray for
them, that they might receive the heavenly reward for their great sacrificial love for us.
Sacrament of Confirmation. Last week, by special delegation from the Bishop, I was
honored to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to our 8 th graders and a few others.
Congratulations to them all! The sacrament, however is not a “graduation.” Rather, it is
the beginning of a new stage in the Christian life, as they receive the strengthening of the
fullness of the Holy Spirit, along with His seven-fold gifts, to participate more fully in the
Church’s mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
By the way, all priests have the “power” to give this sacrament, but we usually
don’t have the authority to do so, unless the bishop specifically grants us that authority.
The exceptions to this rule are when a priest baptizes an adult (or a baby in danger of
death) or receives an already-baptized Protestant into the Catholic Church—then Canon
Law gives the priest automatic authority to confirm them at the same time.
Final Word. I can’t tell you how profoundly I was moved by the outpouring of kindness,
affection, generosity and love directed toward me over the last week or so regarding my
anniversary. I was truly overwhelmed, and humbled. Thank you so very much. What a
gift this parish is to me, and all of you. I thank the Lord He has made me the Father of so
many faithful sons and daughters. Praised be Jesus Christ!
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles