Third Sunday In Ordinary Time
Impeachment. I write this on Wednesday as the Senate Impeachment Trial of President
Donald John Trump has just gotten underway. How long will it last? Should it take place
at all? What will be the verdict and the outcome? Where will it take us as a nation? How
will history look back on it? These are questions yet to be answered. But one thing we
know for sure, no impeachment trial of a president, whether of a guilty or innocent man,
is good for the nation. Let us pray that God will guide the events of this trial and its
aftermath, and that His will be done. God bless the Senate. God bless the President. And
God bless America.
Vacation. Did I ever tell you I’m allergic to winter? Or so it seems, because the cold
weather really does a number on my sinuses. Maybe it’s the cold, maybe it’s the
barometric pressure, but I usually have some minor congestion, cough, sinus infection all
winter. Because of that I spend an inordinate amount of time indoors during the winter,
which means I tend to get less exercise and I am more easily depressed. Not a great
Of course, I grew up in South Texas and never had this severe of a problem in
winter until I moved up here 29 years ago. Thanks be to God, about 17 or so agp years it
occurred to me that I should take a vacation after Christmas and go south for a week, to
provide a respite and cure for my maladies. So every year me and my priest-friends
headed to Myrtle Beach, SC, for a week of golf in January. Until 6 years ago when it
snowed at Myrtle Beach, the day before we arrived. So for the last 5 years we’ve headed
down to Orlando, FL.
That’s where I was from the 9 th to the 16 th . I understand the weather was nice here,
but it was great in Florida: mid-80s every afternoon, sunny skies, a cooling breeze, every
day. That, 5 days of fun golf, good food and the price of our room (free! we stay at a one
of the priest’s family’s resort timeshare) made it a very refreshing getaway.
And then 2 days back in Virginia it’s 23° and snowing. But I was ready for
that—and for the rest of a cold winter. Thanks be to God!
Pope-Emeritus Benedict and Cardinal Sarah versus Pope Francis? Or so some in the
media have been saying the last week or so, in response to a new book co-authored by the
former pope and the current head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship.
Of course, Benedict and Sarah are not challenging or placing themselves “versus”
Pope Francis. Their new book is merely a passionate defense of the Church’s discipline
of priestly celibacy, largely in response to many who have been trying (especially at
October’s “Amazon Synod”) to convince Pope Francis to abandon or make optional this
apostolic discipline. In response to those who see the book as a challenge to Pope
Francis, Vatican Press Office Director Matteo Bruni reminded us this week of Pope
Francis’ comments on January 28, 2019, in which he said “personally, I think that
celibacy is a gift to the Church. I would say that I do not agree with allowing optional
celibacy, no.” Although Pope Francis went on to add, as Bruni paraphrased, “there is
room to consider some exceptions for married clergy in the Latin rite “when there is a
pastoral necessity” in remote locations due to lack of priests, such as in the Pacific
Islands.” Bruni also noted Francis’ quotation of the words of St. Pope Paul VI: “I prefer
to give my life before changing the law of celibacy.”
So where is the fuss coming from? Be careful what you read in the media.
The book is entitled “From the Depths of our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy and the
Crisis of the Catholic Church.” and is scheduled to be released in English on March 12. I
look forward to reading it, as I have all of Benedict XVI’s and Cardinal Sarah’s books.
Mass Attendance Count. Over the weekends of this last October we took our annual
Mass attendance count required by the Bishop. I forgot to share the results with you, but
am reminded of this as I received the report from the chancery this week which
summarizes the results of the whole diocese.
While the Diocese as a whole saw a 1.3% decline in attendance from the prior
year, I’m happy to report St. Raymond’s saw a slight increase in attendance of .8%.
Moreover, while the Diocese as a whole saw 29.3% of all registered parishioners
attending Mass, 40.5% of St. Raymond’s all registered parishioners attended Mass.
Specifically, sampling 3 weeks in October, St. Raymond’s averaged 2,362 in
attendance every week. The breakdown by Mass is as follows: 5pm Saturday = 399; 7am
Sunday = 231.; 8:45 am Sunday = 332; 10:30 am Sunday = 606; 12:15 pm Sunday =
405.; 5pm Sunday = 389.
Now you know.
Sunday Confessions. One thing I really like about our parish is the Sunday morning
Confessions. But, please remember that we have only 2 priests assigned to the parish, and
usually one of them is offering Mass, and sometimes the other is unavailable due to
illness, vacation, etc.. Also, sometimes a priest will start confessions late (less than 30
minutes before Mass) because his other obligations have detained him (including greeting
parishioners after Mass, which I consider very important). In any case, even when
confessions start late, confessions should normally end once Mass has begun (the priest
may extend this, but that should not be taken for granted, and they should never go later
than the start of the Gospel).
Also, while all are welcome, these confession times are provided specifically to
meet the genuine needs of those who truly cannot attend on other days, especially for
those who have a specific need to go to confession before Sunday Mass. This means you
should not plan to go to confession on Sunday merely because it is more convenient than
some other day/time, or to make merely a devotional confession. Parents, in particular, if
you follow the admirable practice of monthly family confessions, please do this on
Saturdays or Wednesdays, but not on Sunday mornings. And little children, in particular,
would probably not have a genuine need to go to confession at this time. Of course, if the
line is short on Sunday, then certainly anyone should feel free to take advantage, but if
the line is longer, be considerate of others with a genuine need.
Thank you for your patience, and for going to confession!
VOLUNTEER! I know everybody’s busy, and many of you are already serving the Lord
in many ways outside of the parish. But I beg you to think and pray seriously about the
specific ways you can volunteer in our parish. We need your help. To jog your thoughts
here, see the insert in this bulletin for list of the various parish committees/activities that
need your help. Please, look over the insert, and ask God to show you where He wants
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles