June 26, 2021 Column Father De Celles

Mass Obligation. The Obligation to attend Mass on Sunday (and other Holy Days)
returns today, Sunday, June 27. This obligation applies to all Catholics, unless there is a
“grave reason” (for example, illness, infirmity, or confinement [e.g., homebound, nursing
home or hospital}, or some types of travel). The Bishop has also dispensed the obligation
for “those who have reason to believe that they were recently exposed to the coronavirus,
another serious or contagious illness…[and] those with serious underlying health
conditions.” As always, the obligation can be fulfilled at the Vigil Mass.
Please remind your friends and family in the Diocese of this renewed obligation.
And remember, failure to fulfill this obligation is grave matter (i.e., a mortal sin if it is
willfully and knowingly committed).
Mass and Confession Schedule. I recently emailed you a survey seeking your input
regarding some post-Covid issues: specifically, Sunday Mass times and where to hear
confessions. Response rate to the survey was gratifying, as 329 participated. Thank you
for your help.
Regarding Sunday Mass times, 32% prefer to revert to the pre-Covid schedule,
35% prefer keeping the current schedule, and 33% have no preference—an even split
basically. Personally, I’d prefer to keep the current times, as it gives us more flexibility
for events at and between Mass. Some examples, 1) some Masses run longer than an hour
due to the special feast day ceremonies or the length of homily (or the slower pace of the
priest [e.g., me]); 2) it would be helpful when confessions between Masses return; 3) it
would make it easier to have events like “Donut Sunday” between Masses. Therefore,
reading the poll to say that 68% of you would have no problem with my preference, I
have decided to keep the Sunday Mass times as they are: 7am, 9am, 11am, and 1pm.
Regarding Confessions, the issue is whether it would be okay to move the
confessions out of the Flower Room and back to the actual confessionals. In response,
68% said that it would be okay to move back to the confessions, 26% said it didn’t matter
either way, and only 6% said they would “not go to confession in the Confessionals at
this time.” Of that 6%, about half of those are not going to confession now (because of
Covid). Given that, I have decided to move confessions back to the confessionals
effective this weekend (i.e., yesterday/Saturday June 26). For those who feel they cannot
come to the confessional, please email or call me to make other arrangements (e.g., meet
me in the flower room immediately before the regular confession times).
Also, I have decided not to return to having a 5pm Sunday Mass, at least for
the foreseeable future. There are several “problems” that the 5pm Sunday Mass presents
to me:
1) Most priests prefer to not say Mass at that time since it’s at the end of a long
busy day. This makes it extremely hard for me to find priests to take that Mass, which is a
big problem given there’s only me in the parish.
2) Being alone in the parish, if I have to say the 5pm Mass that makes for a very,
very long and exhausting day, and in the current situation I have to force myself not to
overextend myself.
3) The attendance at that Mass is roughly (guesstimate) half non-parishioners,
which is fine, but other parishes offer 5pm Masses they can attend.
4) Many of our parishioners who attend that Mass regularly attend another of our
parish Masses, and only use the 5pm as an occasional emergency Mass.
5) Almost all of our parishioners who regularly attend that Mass can and would
attend another of our Sunday Masses.
6) Pre-Covid, 5pm had the lowest attendance by parishioners of all of our Sunday
7) With pre-Covid average total weekly Sunday (and Vigil) Mass attendance at
2,400, or 400 per Mass (2,400 ÷ 6 = 400) and a capacity of 850, it is hard to say that the
5:00 pm Sunday Mass is “necessary.”
McAuliffe Dismisses Parents. According to an audio recording circulating in the media,
former governor and current candidate, Terry McAuliffe, recently dismissed parents’
strong objections to the racist Critical Race Theory being introduced in Virginia
public/government school curricula.
In the recording, a woman asks McAuliffe, “I was just wondering – with all of the
Republicans talking about Critical Race Theory…What are you going to say to all of
those people making education about that?” In response, McAuliffe says, “That’s another
right-wing conspiracy. This is totally made up by Donald Trump and Glenn Youngkin.
This is who they are. It’s a conspiracy theory.”
But “Critical Race Theory” is not the false claim of a “right-wing conspiracy”, it is
a racist approach to education being forced on the children of Fairfax and Loudoun
Counties. CRT argues that racism is the American way of life, all whites are racist,
teaches white children to hate themselves and their parents, and teaches “children of
color” to hate white kids. This is diametrically opposed to the fundamental rules of both
loving your neighbor and respecting the dignity of every human being and his/her God-given inherent rights and liberties.
Every true Christian should find it despicable. And yet the Democrat Party’s
nominee for governor, Terry McAuliffe, thinks it isn’t a problem at all—that we’re just
all right-wing conspiracists, like Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee, in the
upcoming November (2021) election. Youngkin has stated his strong opposition to
Critical Race Theory.
Good News on Religious Liberty, But Not Good Enough. Excerpt from The Wall
Street Journal, Editorial, June 18, 2021:
“The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 on Thursday (June 17) that Philadelphia can’t tell
a Catholic foster-care agency [Catholic Social Services (CSS)] to violate its faith as a
condition of its city contract—a victory for religious liberty. …
“The facts in Fulton v. Philadelphia show …The Catholic Church has been caring
for Philadelphia’s orphans since at least 1798, long before foster care was a government
service. …This was the state of play until 2018, when a newspaper quoted the
archdiocese’s spokesman as saying that CSS couldn’t certify a hypothetical gay couple
seeking its services [Twenty-seven other groups currently do so]. …The city then refused
to renew CSS’s contract. Foster parents sued…
“The good news is that no Justice took Philadelphia’s side… In this case the key
precedent is Employment Division v. Smith (1990), which said the First Amendment isn’t
necessarily offended when a “generally applicable” law places “incidental” burdens on
religion. … [The Opinion of the Court, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, found] that
Philly’s nondiscrimination demand didn’t count as “generally applicable,” since the
city’s foster contracts reserved the right to make exceptions….
“The pessimistic view is that the majority used case-specific facts to dodge the
real question…When Philly issues its next foster contracts, Justice Alito asks [in his
concurring opinion], what if it simply deletes the exemption clause? “Voilà…today’s
decision will vanish—and the parties will be back where they started.” …[Alito] argues
persuasively that Smith is contrary to the meaning of the First Amendment…”
I agree with this good-news/not-best-news assessment. But I also think the Court
is setting up for a major good-news decision on the issue.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles