Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 3, 2018 Column Father De Celles

ELECTION. This Tuesday, November 6, is Election Day. Much is at stake, especially in voting for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: “co-responsibility for the common good make[s] it morally obligatoryto exercise the right to vote…” [2240]. In my opinion, when someone is eligible to vote, failure to vote is usually grave matter (i.e., the stuff that mortal sins are made of) when the issues are as important as they are in this election.

Key Issues. There are many important issues today, including the economy, heath insurance, illegal immigration, etc.. But as with any moral choice we make, we always start with the most fundamental issues. Today these should be clear: protecting the right-to-life (without which all rights are forfeited), protecting traditional marriage (the cornerstone of civil society) and religious liberty (without which there are no “God-given rights,” only “government-given rights.”) These are truly non-negotiable and disqualifying issues.

Under the current administration, much positive headway has been made in these areas, especially in the appointment of federal judges who support these traditional values. But because of this success, some of us may tend to relax in our fight  to defend these rights, etc.. And they may lead some of you not to vote.

But remember, there are two parties in this country, and one party clearly publicly defends life and marriage (and religious liberty), and the other party clearly publicly opposes them. That’s just the facts, not a partisan endorsement. This election will decide which party, i.e., the pro-life, etc., party, or the pro-abortion etc. party, controls the Senate and the House.

So remember: EVERY VOTE MATTERS! We’ve seen this over and over again. Just last year Philip Hatchett (R) and Shelly Simonds (D) TIED in their race for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, and the winner was chosen by drawing of a name from a bowl! And that determined which party would have control of the state House. If one more vote would have been cast, that one voter would have decided who would control the House!

Vote, and vote like Catholics, protecting the most fundamental rights and principles.

Prayers. With that in mind, I ask that today, tomorrow and Tuesday all of you pray the Rosary and the Prayer to St. Raymond of Peñafort, and perhaps offer up some small sacrifice, for the Lord’s will to be done on Tuesday.


60 HOURS, 3 DAYS OF ADORATION. As I wrote last week, the American Bishops will be meeting from Tuesday, November 13, to Thursday, November 15, to address the sex abuse cover-up, including how to discipline lying or abusing bishops. With this in mind, St. Raymond’s will have Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the 3 days of the bishops’ assembly: from 7am on Tuesday to 7pm on Thursday. And as your spiritual father, I beg all of you to sign up for at least 1 hour before our Lord, to beg the Lord for the conversion of sinful and weak bishops and priests, and for the consolation of victims. So please sign up. See the insert today for more info.


NOVEMBER: PRAYING FOR THE DEAD. Last Friday we celebrated All Souls Day. But actually the whole month of November is set aside by the Church as a month to pray for the dead, for all the souls in Purgatory, who are being prepared for their entrance into Heaven.

Many Catholics nowadays wrongly think Purgatory is an outdated remnant from the Middle Ages, even though Christian belief in Purgatory is rooted in Jewish doctrine (2 Maccabees 12), and was well established in the early Church. Many other Catholics, in their grief, prefer to think of their departed loved ones as already being in Heaven, and can’t bear the thought that they might be in Purgatory.

But the doctrine of Purgatory is not something to fear, because it is a doctrine of God’s mercy, and reflects the reality that none of us are perfect. All of us sin or cling to things of this world—however small or seemingly insignificant. But Scripture tells us “nothing imperfect shall enter” into Heaven (Rev. 21:27)—and rightly so, since Heaven is about perfect happiness, perfect love, etc… Given this, and confident in Our Lord’s desire for all to be with Him in Heaven, Christians have always believed that between death and Heaven there is a purification, or purgation, where we’re cleansed from all imperfections, i.e., made perfect. This state, or “place,” we call Purgatory.

Now, we must remember that Purgatory is NOT anything like Hell, and all the Souls in Purgatory are good and “worthy” of eternal joy in Heaven—we call them the “Holy Souls.” So thinking of them as in Purgatory is not an insult but praise. Moreover, these Souls are certain they are going to Heaven, so they are filled with a joy beyond anything experienced on earth.

But we must also remember that there is suffering in Purgatory. The simplest way for many of us to understand this is to think of the suffering related to change. All change is difficult. Consider the person who is trying to lose weight, or exercising for an athletic competition. The effort involved in change is painful, but as you see progress you are also invigorated and happy, seeing your goal approach.

Even so, since 1) Purgatory involves pain, and 2) we want our beloved dead to swiftly enter the joys of Heaven, we should never neglect praying for them. And if they are already in Heaven, no prayer is wasted, since every prayer is an act of love, and they hear each prayer as telling how much we love them.

So in love, let us pray for our beloved dead this month, and for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, especially the “most abandoned,” the souls who no one else remembers to pray for.

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.”


Synagogue Shooting and Security Concerns. Last weekend the nation once again mourned the deaths of Americans caught in a mass shooting at a religious service. Please pray for those killed and wounded, and for an end of this insane violence.

As I wrote last year, I have discussed our own security with various priests, parishioners and law enforcement folks, but most suggestions for improvements seem impractical, or risk stirring up undue fears. After all, the odds of something happening in any particular church are infinitesimally small. Even so, we will try to take those precautions which seem reasonable. And I always encourage you to be vigilant, and report anything clearly suspicious. And I know I can count on many of our parishioners who are current or former law-enforcement officers or trained military veterans, to be constantly prepared to render proportionate forceful defense of their fellow parishioners. But above all I trust and pray that Jesus will send His angels to protect and defend us at all times.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles