Third Sunday Of Advent

December 12, 2016 Column Father De Celles

Habemus Espiscopum—We Have a Bishop! On Tuesday of last week (December 6) the Most Reverend Michael Francis Burbidge was installed as the 4th Bishop of Arlington. The Installation Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More was a joyous occasion, with over 200 priests, 30 bishops and 3 cardinals attending, along with a standing room only congregation.

It was an interesting sign to us that Bishop Burbidge took his cathedra (the Bishop’s chair at the Cathedral) on the Feast of St. Nicholas: not only is St. Nicholas famous for his current Christmas role as the gift-giving “Santa Claus,” but during his reign as Bishop of Myra (Turkey) in the early 4th century he was venerated throughout the whole Church for both his legendary kindness and charity and his heroic courage during the final Roman persecution (enduring torture and imprisonment), as well as his bold and zealous proclamation of the Gospel, especially at the Council of Nicaea in 325. It seems to me that St. Nicholas has given us an early Christmas gift this year, in giving us a new Bishop who is also, kind, courageous and zealous. Please keep Bishop Burbidge in your prayers—he will need them.

(And don’t forget to pray for Bishop Emeritus Loverde as he begins his retirement at the St. Rose of Lima Priests’ Retirement Villa in Annandale).

Some have wondered why the Installation Mass wasn’t held in a different, larger venue, e.g., the Patriot Center. While it is a shame more of the faithful could not be admitted, it really is important symbolically for the Bishop to take over the Diocese by being seated in his cathedra at his cathedral: the cathedra/chair is a biblically rooted symbol of both his apostolic ruling and teaching authority, and the cathedral is the symbol of the Church as God’s house, i.e., not simply a rented secular venue of convenience. Of course, this sadly meant that admission was by ticket only, with each parish receiving only 3 tickets. Maybe our new Bishop will build us a new and larger and more beautiful cathedral to seat a larger congregation for future important liturgies. By the way, with only three tickets to give, I gave ours to Christophe Sanchez-O’Brien and his parents, Patrick and Maria, in particular recognition of Christophe’s uniquely outstanding service as an altar server for over 10 years.


Advent Continues. Please join us this evening, Sunday, Dec. 11, at 7pm for Lessons and Carols, a relaxing, uplifting and joyful celebration of the hope that Christmas brings. Our wonderful choir is ready to lead us in singing hymns and carols of exuberant Advent faith, hope and love, as we also read the prophetic passages of Scripture foretelling the coming of the Christ at Christmas. Last year 300 folks turned out for a great time–where were you?! Don’t miss it this year.

This Thursday, Dec. 15, at 7:30pm I give my second talk in our Advent Series on “Grace:  God’s Gift at Christmas and Throughout the Year.” This second (and final) talk is entitled: “Hard Questions about Grace,” and will discuss: the effect of sin on grace, inequalities of grace (does Mary have more grace than you?), and grace as it relates to merit, freedom, and predestination. I’m really looking forward to seeing all of you there!

This Saturday, Dec. 17, at Noon, all Senior parishioners (and their senior guests) are invited to our Senior Christmas Luncheon. Please contact the parish office to r.s.v.p. or with questions.

Also, please consider taking an ornament from the Giving Tree (in the narthex) this week to help provide Christmas to a needy family in our parish or in Our Lady of the Blue Ridge Parish in Madison, VA.  All presents are due back next Sunday, Dec. 18th (Just leave your presents under the tree before Mass.). We also need volunteers to help take a bunch of the presents to Madison for the 12 families we adopted from there. We will be loading presents right after the 8 am Mass on Tuesday, Dec. 20th. Please call the parish office to volunteer.


Eagle Scout. Congratulations to parishioner Jarod Slaton for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. This is an impressive accomplishment, and I’m sure it speaks of great things to come from Jarod, considering some of the accomplishments of other Eagle Scouts such as President Gerald Ford, Astronaut Neil Armstrong, Dr. William Bennett, Cardinal William Keeler, Coach Jim Mora, billionaire Ross Perot, director Steven Spielberg and Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr.. I’ve had my differences with some of the policies of Boy Scouts of America, but not with the boys themselves—especially not our parish boys!


Office Remodeling. As previously mentioned here, we will soon begin a $41,000 remodeling of our parish office. Over the years, we’ve become a little cramped, so, we’ll be moving some doors and building some new walls to make more efficient use of the limited space we have, provide additional closet/storage space, and improve privacy and soundproofing. We will also be expanding our office space a bit by converting what is currently a largely-unused storage room in the basement to a conference room. The current conference/work room (which also serves as our plant manager’s work space and staff breakroom/kitchen) in the rear of the main office will be divided into 2 rooms, one a large closet and the other my new office.

Construction will begin on January 8, and continue for 4 to 6 weeks. During that period the offices will be moved into the first floor of the priests’ residence, which is, of course, adjacent to the office in the rectory building. This will pose a real challenge for the parish staff and us priests, as you can imagine. So we beg your patience with any inconveniences you might encounter during this time. And I also beg your prayers to the Lord, that the construction go well, stay on budget, and finish on schedule.


Eva Radel. Caught up the busyness (and a bad cold) of November I neglected to announce the addition of Eva Radel to our parish staff as Parish Secretary. I have to admit, hiring Eva was one of the easiest decisions I’ve made in a long time: for over 7 years she ran the office at St. Patrick’s down near Chancellorsville, and comes highly recommended by the priests who worked with her. In addition to her great administrative skills she has a joyful and warm disposition that everyone will love. She comes from a very large and devout Catholic family: of her 11 siblings 2 are cloistered religious sisters and 1 is a seminarian for our Diocese. And frankly, I’ve known her family since she was a little girl, when they were my parishioners at St. Andrews (17 years ago), and her brothers have been serving my Extraordinary Form Mass for the last 9 years. I’m so happy she’s with us now. Please join me in welcoming Eva to our parish!


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles