The Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God

January 1, 2017 Column Father De Celles

Anno Domini 2017. In recent times, we have been encouraged to use the designation “CE,” short for “Current Era” or “Common Era,” to count the years, i.e., 2017 CE, rather than traditional “AD,” short for “Anno Domini,” meaning, “Year of the Lord.” To me, this is nothing but political correctness run amuck, since the Current/Common Era is still counted by reference to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ in the year 1. So, I refuse to yield to the tyranny of political correctness and will continue to use the traditional and rational “AD,” and encourage you to do so, at least in private usage. And in doing so, I pray that it will become more than just a way of counting the years, but rather a way of dedicating the years: let us make this new year of 2017 truly the Year of the Lord, dedicating ourselves anew to the Lord Jesus.

As we continue the Christmas Season in this New Year of the Lord 2017, I pray that the Christ Child will shower you with His grace, His Blessed Mother Mary will keep you in her tender embrace, and St. Joseph will protect you in all you do. And on behalf of Fr. Smith, as well as Fr. Daly and Fr. Scalia I wish you Blessed and Merry Christmas, and Holy and Happy New Year!


Celebrating the Feast of St. Raymond of Peñafort. Next Saturday, January 7, is our patronal feast day, the Feast of St. Raymond. Since it falls on a Saturday this year we are somewhat limited in how we can celebrate it liturgically—we can’t have an evening Mass in his honor (as we did last year) since that would be the Vigil Mass for Epiphany Sunday. So, I encourage you to attend the 9am Mass that morning to honor our great patron and to seek his intercession.

Another great way to honor St. Raymond and to draw closer to him is to read the little biographical book we distributed in September. If you haven’t read it, take some time this week to do so. If you don’t have a copy they are available in the gift shop and in the parish office.

Finally, another way we are celebrating his feast this year is with our annual Volunteer Reception/Dinner. If you have volunteered in any capacity in the parish this last year, you and your spouse are invited to our annual appreciation dinner for parish volunteers this Saturday, January 7. If you haven’t rsvp’d yet, please contact the parish office or your committee chairman asap.


Year End Donations. Every year at this time we get inundated with requests for donations. The problem is knowing which charities are really worthy of our consideration. Unfortunately, many so-called “charities” are not doing work consistent with God’s will, and some are actually working against Him. Still 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. These, of course, are many. But 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, AAA Women for Choice, Mary’s Shelter (Fredericksburg), the Poor Clares, Angelus Academy and, my personal favorite, St. Dominic Monastery in Linden, VA, our dear cloistered Dominican sisters who pray for us every day. And of course, St. Raymond’s parish is a very worthy charity…


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles


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Homily of Pope Francis

Solemnity of Mary, Most Holy Mother of God, January 1, 2016


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning and happy New Year!

At the beginning of the year it is beautiful to exchange good wishes. In this way we renew for one another the hope that the year which awaits us may be somewhat better. It is fundamentally a sign of the hope that enlivens us and invites us to believe in life. We know, however, that with the new year, everything will not change, and that many of yesterday’s problems will still be here tomorrow. Thus I would like to express to you a wish supported by real hope, which I have drawn from today’s liturgy.

They are the words by which the Lord himself asked that his people be blessed: “The Lord make his face to shine upon you…. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you” (Num 6:25-26). I too wish you this: that the Lord lay his gaze upon you and that you may rejoice, knowing that each day his merciful face, more radiant than the sun, shines upon you and never sets! Discovering the face of God makes life new. Because he is a Father enamoured with man, who never tires of starting with us all over again in order to renew us. The Lord is patient with us! He never tires of starting over again each time we fall. However, the Lord does not promise magical changes, He does not use a magic wand. He loves changing reality from within, with patience and love; he asks to enter our life gently, like rain on the ground, in order to then bear fruit. Always, he awaits us and looks at us with tenderness. Each morning, upon awakening, we can say: “Today the Lord makes his face shine upon me”. A beautiful prayer, which is a reality.

The biblical benediction continues in this way: “[The Lord] give you peace” (v. 26). Today we celebrate the World Day of Peace, whose theme is: “Overcome Indifference and Win Peace”. Peace, which God the Father wants to sow in the world, must be cultivated by us. Not only this, but it must also be “won”. This leads to a real struggle, a spiritual battle that takes place in our hearts. Because the enemy of peace is not only war, but also indifference, which makes us think only of ourselves and creates barriers, suspicions, fears and closure. These things are enemies of peace. We have, thanks be to God, a great deal of information; but at times we are so overwhelmed by facts that we become distracted by reality, from the brother and sister who need us. Let us begin this year by opening our heart and calling attention to neighbours, to those who are near. This is the way to win peace.

May the Queen of Peace, the Mother of God, whose solemnity we celebrate today, help us with this. Today’s Gospel states that she “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). Hopes and worries, gratitude and problems: all that happened in life became, in Mary’s heart, a prayer, a dialogue with God. She does this with us as well: she safeguards the joys and unties the knots of our life, taking them to the Lord….