December 12, 2022 Column Father De Celles

Thanks to Bishop Burbidge. It was great to have Bishop
Burbidge with us last weekend to help us celebrate the 25th
anniversary of our parish’s founding. I’m glad to say that he
seemed to genuinely enjoy himself, and was highly
complimentary of his visit, commenting especially on your
reverence, prayerfulness—and “they sing!” He was also
positively ebullient in his praise of our choir and music director,
Elisabeth Turco, and of our altar servers as well. Thank you all
for making his visit so positive, and thanks to His Excellency for
joining us.
(I don’t think I every mentioned to you that the Bishop
recently honored Elisabeth Turco by appointing her to the
Diocesan Liturgical Commission. Congratulations to her!)
3rd Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday. Today is “Gaudete,”
or “Rejoice,” Sunday, as we look forward to the joy of Christmas
and heaven. Last week we celebrated the Solemnity of the
Immaculate Conception and tomorrow (Monday) we celebrate
the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. These feasts remind us that
as this holy season of preparation and expectant joy continues we
follow the example of she who was first prepared for the birth of
Jesus, and who has always found the most joy in it: His Blessed
Mother, Mary.
Of course, in a certain sense Mary was prepared from all
time for the coming of Jesus, as God promised in the Garden of
Eden that he would send “the woman,” free from sin, who would
bear a son, also free from sin, who would crush the devil and free
us from sin. In fulfillment of that promise Mary was then
conceived in her mother’s womb without the stain of original sin,
and was filled with grace all her life, so that she never committed
any actual sin herself. Thus prepared for Jesus’ birth, she was the
perfect Mother for the Divine Son. In imitation of Mary, we
should be preparing for Christmas by ridding ourselves of sins
and accepting the grace the Lord pours out on us in this holy
But besides preparing ourselves we must also help
others prepare. When Mary had heard the news of the Incarnation
she “departed in haste” to visit her cousin Elizabeth, and so truly
brought the tiny Baby Jesus in her womb to Elizabeth, who
responded with exuberant joy. Similarly, when the Blessed
Mother appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531, she
appeared to him as a pregnant young woman, again bringing
Christ to all of Mexico, Latin America, and, in a sense, to all the
“New World.” Our Advent preparation must also include this:
imitating Mary by bringing Christ to those around us. We do this
first by, as I wrote above, eliminating sin from our lives, and so
live in charity and justice with our neighbors. But we must also
be more pro-active: we must proclaim to all who will hear, a clear
invitation to receive the Lord who came to us first at Christmas.
There are a thousand ways we can do this: giving
presents that effectively communicate the Christian message
(Bibles, Hand Missals, Rosaries, Catholic spiritual classic books,
etc.); putting up Manger scenes (crèches); praying and singing
holy Christmas songs with our families; talking about Christ and
sharing our belief in and love of him; and especially, bringing
others (our children, fallen away family members, interested
friends and co-workers) to church with us —to Mass, to
Confession, to adoration, etc..
As Advent continues let us turn to our Blessed Mother
to help us to prepare in joy for Christmas, by her example and
through her intercession.
Giving. At the first Christmas God gave Himself to us by

stripping Himself of the glory of heaven, and becoming a baby
born into poverty. So I encourage you to consider carefully what
you will give to those in need this Advent, whether individuals
you know or charitable organizations that continue Jesus’ work on
When you give to charitable groups, make sure the group
is solidly in line with the teaching of Christ’s Church so that your
money isn’t diverted to unworthy uses. Today’s Second Collection
is for Catholic Charities of Arlington (which is entirely separate
from Catholic Charities USA). Please be generous in supporting
this excellent charitable arm of our Diocese.
Let me also recommend just a few organizations that
merit your generosity as well (there are many more organizations
worthy of your help): the Little Sisters of the Poor, House of
Mercy, Divine Mercy Care, Project Rachel, Gabriel Project, the
Poor Clares, Angelus Academy, and St. Dominic Monastery in
Linden, VA (the wonderful cloistered Dominican sisters who pray
for our parish daily).
And of course, St. Raymond’s itself is a charitable
organization—special Christmas donations to the parish are
greatly appreciated.
Confessions. As I noted above, one of the best tools to help us
to overcome sin is the Sacrament of Confession. First, the
confession/admission of our sins to the Church and to God
(through the priest) helps us to identify the sins we must
overcome, to take personal responsibility for them and to
affirmatively reject them. Second, the grace of the sacrament
repairs the rupture sin causes between us and God, especially if
there are mortal sins, and strengthens us to resist those sins in the
future. So… go to confession this week. Monday through Friday
this week we will have 2 priests hearing confessions every
evening at 6pm to 7pm.
Weekday Mass. Adding an extra Mass or two to your Advent
can also be extremely spiritually helpful. So consider going to a
weekday Mass during the next two weeks, either here or at a
church near your work. Remember that in Advent, for your
convenience, we’ve added a special Thursday Evening Mass at
7pm—please consider adding this to your schedule.
Lessons and Carols. Tonight (Sunday, December 11) at 7:00pm,
on this Gaudete Sunday, we keep our Advent tradition of having
“Lessons and Carols,” a program of beautiful Advent music and
Scripture readings. Please join us, and stay for a light reception
I Really Love Dogs. Did you see this in news last week (from Wow. If only more priests would better imitate
Casper in protecting their sheep:
“A Georgia sheepdog is recovering from injuries after
squaring off against a pack of coyotes, killing eight of them, while
protecting his flock.
“Casper, a sheepdog who works on John Wierwiller’s
Georgia farm, fought off the more than half a dozen coyotes in a
fight that lasted over half an hour, WAGA-TV reported. Wierwiller
says that Casper disappeared for two days after the brutal fight.
“‘We knew he was hurt because we found parts of his tail
and blood and other things, so we were worried,’ Wierwiller said.
Casper eventually returned to the farm with visible injuries. ‘He
was kinda looking at me like, “Boss, stop looking at how bad I
look, just take care of me,”’ Wierwiller said…‘looked like a
coyote grabbed his skin and peeled it right off.’”
Oremus pro invicem.
Fr. De Celles