Third Sunday Of Lent

March 18, 2017 Column Father De Celles


CARDINAL BURKE TALK THIS FRIDAY. We live in times when it can be very difficult to practice our Catholic Faith with integrity and devotion. Sometimes it seems that we are being assaulted on all sides—from the culture, government, family, friends, and even from our fellow Catholics, even from high ranking officials in the Church. That is one of the main reasons, I am so excited to have Cardinal Raymond Burke give a talk to us this Friday evening, March 24, 2017, at 7pm in the church. His topic will be: “Saint Raymond of Peñafort: The Inseparable Bond between Doctrine and Discipline”

As you may know, Cardinal Burke is Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and a member of several Vatican Congregations. A Prefect Emeritus of Apostolic Signatura (“Chief Justice of the Church’s Supreme Court”) and Doctor of Canon Law, he is widely held to be one of the Church’s foremost authorities on that subject.

But His Eminence is much more than a canon lawyer. Besides being well-versed in theology and philosophy (with Master’s degrees in both), before becoming a cardinal in the Roman Curia he had extensive experience as a pastor, serving as a parish vicar and high school teacher, and then as bishop of two dioceses. His pastoral heart shows in everything he does: he is a priest who sees the laws of the Church (“discipline”) not as empty rules to be followed for the sake of following, but as instruments of implementing the teaching of Christ (“doctrine”) in the day to day life of Catholics, especially in our relationships with each other. And the central teaching of Christ is to love: to love God and to love one another as He has loved us. So, whether as a canon lawyer, ecclesiastic judge, parish priest or diocesan bishop, Cardinal Burke has been consistently motivated by his love for Christ and for the people of the Church—whether the Pope, or the faithful in the pew. At the Last Supper, Christ told his apostles, “If you love me you will keep my commandments,” meaning not only the “Ten Commandments” but also all the teachings He gave them. And so, the Cardinal’s pastoral love has led him to be a zealous defender of those teachings. Much like the saint he is named after, our beloved St. Raymond of Peñafort, a canon lawyer famous for his concern for the moral and spiritual wellbeing of the faithful.

I can personally testify to Cardinal Burke’s pastoral approach. A few years back, I was undergoing a time of very difficult personal trial. At the request of a mutual friend the Cardinal kindly took time from his busy schedule to meet with me (a complete stranger and a very unimportant priest) and listen to my troubles, and to share his very wise and charitable counsel with me. It was inspiring and invigorating meeting, and encouraged me to persevere in my endeavors. My experience that day, as much as anything else, is why I have asked him to speak to you: to help you, in these very challenging times, to persevere in your Catholic Faith, loving Jesus, His Church and one another.

Please join us Friday night, and invite your friends.


Changes in this Week’s Schedule. As previously announced, because of Cardinal Burke’s visit this Friday we’ve had to rearrange some of this week’s schedule, including: Thursday’s Lenten Series with Fr. Pollard will not meet this week, but will reconvene next week; Friday evening Confessions will be moved from 6:00—6:30pm to 4:30—5:00pm; Friday Stations of the Cross will be moved from 6:30pm to 5pm; there will be no Soup Supper this Friday. (All this is on the “Lenten Schedule.”)


Solemnity of St. Joseph. Today, March 19, is usually the Solemnity of St. Joseph, but since it falls on a Sunday of Lent, it is moved to tomorrow, Monday, March 20. Please consider attending Mass tomorrow, and/or spending time praying to Our Lord’s adopted father and Patron of the Universal Church, and reflecting on his life as father, spouse and worker.


Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Next Saturday, March 25, is the feast of the Annunciation, remembering the Archangel Gabriel apparition to the Virgin Mary to announce, and receive her consent to, the miraculous conception of Jesus. Thus, it is traditionally understood to be a memorial of the event of Conception of Jesus, so that exactly nine months later, on December 25, we celebrate His birth. I encourage you all to celebrate by attending either the regular 9:00 am or the specially scheduled 12:00 Noon Mass.


Office Remodeling Complete. Praised be Jesus Christ, the construction in our office is finally done. After a 3 week delay due to Fairfax County permitting problems, the folks from ALW Home Improvements did a great and timely job of remodeling our offices. I am very happy with the results, and think we have accomplished our stated goal of “more efficient and effective use of space for our staff and additional privacy for our priests (for meeting with parishioners, etc.).” Unfortunately,  County required change orders caused us to run 15% over the original bid price. I apologize for that, but it couldn’t be helped. Thanks for your patience.


Lenten Devotion. This holy season is a great time to renew our awareness of Jesus’ love for us, and our failure to love Him. So I urge you to pause every night before you go to bed and briefly examine your consciences, thinking both of your sins and of God’s blessings of the day. Also, take a moment to consider how well you “kept Lent” that day: have you been faithful to the penances you have chosen for yourself, and are your penances both challenging enough and not so challenging as to be discouraging? And then make a sincere and devout act of contrition.

I also encourage you to carefully review the Lenten Schedule we distributed two weeks ago (go to and “Lenten Schedule” near the top of the page) and think about which of the various Lenten liturgies and activities you should take part in—and resolve to make it happen.

Looking over the schedule, I see the daily confessions—have you been yet? And the Friday Stations of the Cross—such a simple but powerful devotion. And Fr. Pollard’s Thursday lecture series on the “Anima Christi”—Father’s talks have been very inspiring. Or maybe you can come to Exposition and Adoration on Wednesday or Friday. Or how about waking up early once a week to come to morning Mass. Or go to Mass at another church near your work during lunch. Or maybe on Wednesday evening you could go to confession, spend time in Adoration, and go to 7pm Mass!

Don’t let this Lenten opportunity to grow in holiness pass you by. Keep the love of Christ Crucified before your eyes at all times, so that your hearts maybe transformed every day in Lent.


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles