Third Sunday of Lent. As Lent continues I encourage you all to let yourself enter more
fully into the holiness of this season. Some of you may not have really turned your full
attention to the penitence of the season yet, and some of you may be starting to wane in
your sincere efforts. All that is understandable, but we must not let this great opportunity
to draw closer to Christ slip away.
In this regard 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 you well you “kept Lent” that day.
I also encourage you to carefully review the Lenten Schedule we distributed two
weeks ago (go to straymonds.org and click “Lent” at the top of the home 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 profound devotion. 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 before work or school, or to the
Extraordinary Form Mass on the 1 st and 3 rd Fridays. Or go to Mass at another church
during lunch. Or maybe listen to my daily Lenten Podcast.
Don’t let this opportunity to grow in holiness pass you by. Keep the love of Christ
Crucified before your eyes at all times, so that your hearts may be transformed every day
FORMED.ORG. Another great tool in Lent is the website FORMED.ORG. The website,
run by the Augustine Institute in Denver, describes itself, quite accurately as: “a
revolutionary online platform featuring the best Catholic videos, audio talks, eBooks and
movies from trusted partners like the Augustine Institute, St. Paul Center, Marian Fathers,
Lighthouse Catholic Media, Ignatius Press and Word on Fire. Catechism and Personal
Faith Formation are at the fingertips of every parishioner.” There’s something good for
the little ones, teens, middle-aged, seniors, neophytes, cradle Catholics, well-educated,
not so well- educated, families, marrieds, singles, men, women—everyone. It really is
great. Go to the site and see for yourself.
RCIA and RCIC. Please keep in prayer those adults and children who are preparing to
enter the Catholic Church and/or be Baptized, Confirmed and receive First Holy
Communion at the Easter Vigil. Even with the restriction of Covid they have been
preparing diligently the last few months. Let us pray that they persevere in faith, and be
open to all the graces God has in store for them. And may they be an example to the rest
of us, reminding each of us of our own continuing need for personal conversion in the
love of Christ.
New Vaccine. Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the
Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in
Kansas, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, have issued a
statement (see below) on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recently approved
for use in the United States. Both are very good men, and their advice is sound.
“The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the United
States again raises questions about the moral permissibility of using vaccines developed,
tested, and/or produced with the help of abortion-derived cell lines.
“Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines raised concerns because an abortion-derived cell
line was used for testing them, but not in their production. The Johnson & Johnson
vaccine, however, was developed, tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell
lines raising additional moral concerns. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
has judged that ‘when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available … it
is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from
aborted fetuses in their research and production process.’ However, if one can choose
among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least
connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen. Therefore, if one has the
ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over
Johnson & Johnson’s.
“While we should continue to insist that pharmaceutical companies stop using
abortion-derived cell lines, given the world-wide suffering that this pandemic is causing,
we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common
I would only add that each person must judge, according to one’s own conscience,
that there is a grave reason to take the vaccine—the CDF, referenced above, thinks there
is, but some disagree. In no case are you required to take the vaccine: you are free to
choose, following the Church’s teaching and guidance. If you choose to take the
vaccine, you should still make your objections known. For this you might want to see
the sample letter on our website, on the “coronavirus” menu at the top of the front page.
New Altar Rail and Pulpit. On June 23, 2019, I announced plans to install a new marble
altar rail and pulpit. Twenty months later, after multiple delays due to Covid—in the
workshops in Italy and Maryland, and the ports in Italy, Bahamas, Miami and Baltimore,
it’s finally in place. Praised be Jesus Christ! And Our Lady of Ransom and St. Raymond.
Thanks to all the donors who made this possible; you’ll be happy to know we had
more than enough donations to pay for the project (I’ll be in touch with donors about this
soon). Thanks to the craftsmen who made and installed it all so beautifully. And thanks to
all of you for your patience. I hope you like it, and pray that it will add to our reverent
and devout celebration of the Holy Mass.
Parents’ Rights. On December 23, the District of Columbia enacted a law allowing
children age 11 and older to obtain vaccines without their parents’ consent. Doctors will
determine if their minor patients meet the standard for informed consent. The legislation
also requires doctors to “seek reimbursement, without parental consent, directly from the
insurer” and “submit the immunization record directly to the minor’s school,” rather than
their parents. So, doctors, not parents, are in charge of our kids. Parents’ rights be
damned. Although the law only applies to the District, this kind of thing, as we have so
often seen lately, spreads like the virus. Beware.
Welcome Back Fr. Daly! After several months of Covid shutdown in his retirement
community, Fr. Daly is back with us today, celebrating the 1pm Mass. I can’t tell you
how happy both he and I are about his return. At 89 years he’s a real trooper, a great
example to all of us, especially to us priests. We’ve missed his great homilies and strong
and kind presence. God bless you, Fr. Daly.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles