November 16, 2021 Column Father De Celles

Mass Attendance. During the month of October, the Bishop requires us to do a
manual/visual attendance count at all the Sunday Masses (including the Saturday Vigils
and excluding Columbus Day weekend). This year’s Count showed that our total Sunday
attendance total was 1,390 people. This number is, of course way up from last year,
during Covid, but represents a 972 person or 41% decline from 2,362 people in
attendance in the 2019/pre-Covid Count.
Where is everybody? Some are staying home and watching on livestream: we have
about 170 families still watching on livestream, which might represent anywhere from
170 to all 972 people (although I estimate it’s more like 500 people). Perhaps others are
at other parishes—we no longer have the 5pm Mass, which in 2019 had an average
attendance of 389, although probably half of those were not our parishioners (it was a
“last chance” Mass for many Catholics in other parishes). Between the 500 I estimate
watching on the internet, and the 389 maybe lost from the 5pm, that gets us to just about
900 accounted for, so to speak. Sorry, I’m a numbers guy.
Maybe. But I am very dubious that we lost 389 Mass attendees with the cancelled
5pm: typically dropping a 5pm Mass in a parish does not markedly affect a parish’s
average attendance on Sunday, as parishioners tend to attend the earlier Masses. Perhaps
we lost some of the “last chancers” from other parishes, which we can hope are going to
5pm Mass elsewhere.
In any case, I AM very concerned about the folks who haven’t returned.
Some/many of those, I’m afraid, may have abandoned any attempt to even “virtually”
attend Mass. Not being required, maybe they just don’t see the need. Or maybe with
Covid and all the problems of the world they’ve given up on the Mass, or even the Faith
To them I say: you need Jesus and the Blessed Sacrament He gave you, so don’t
give up! Come back to Mass, not just because you are required to by the Church, but
because you want to be with Jesus, and He wants to be with you in this most holy and
powerful way. Come back to Mass!
Then there are those who are watching the Mass “virtually” on the internet or TV.
They would seem to be doing so for 1 of 2 reasons: 1) they are still afraid of Covid, or 2)
they don’t think it makes a huge difference between going to the Mass in person and
watching it on the internet/TV—that the latter is good enough.
For those who are avoiding in-person Mass because of Covid, please consider
coming back. Unless there are truly serious medical reasons that make you especially
vulnerable to Covid (talk to your doctor), it seems to me you can return to Mass (but I’m
not a doctor). To the best of my knowledge, there have been ZERO reports of contracting
the virus at Mass in our Diocese. Now, I can’t prove there have been no cases spread
through our parish Masses, but it would seem we would know—the department of health
would let us know.
Even so, I respect your decisions, and your concerns. I just want you back, for
your own spiritual good.
Because remember, there is no replacement for being at Mass and receiving
Holy Communion, in person. During the shut-down last year we tried to encourage you

to watch the livestream and make a Spiritual Communion, because it was the best we
could do for you at the time. But it’s NOT the same as Mass. They call it “virtual” for a
reason. The word “virtual” means, “almost or nearly as described, but not completely.” In
speaking of the Eucharist Jesus commanded us, “take and eat” not “watch and pray.”
Christ’s whole Incarnation is about being present, in the middle of things, coming
together physically with us. He could have been with us virtually, he could have given
the apostles a mere vision of himself, and he could have merely “appeared” to hang and
die on a cross, but he did it in the flesh.
So come to Mass, in the flesh! And unite your prayers to the physical Sacrament
of His Real Presence. And receive the true body of Christ in the flesh in Holy
And those of you who are already coming to Mass, seek out the friends you
haven’t seen or that you know are “going” only virtually, or who are staying away
altogether. Jesus commands us, “love your neighbor as yourself.” You go to Mass, so
love them enough to help them come back too.
Come to back to Sunday Mass!!
Our “Baby” Sofi. Today, November 14, is the 11 th birthday of Sofi Hills. As many of
you will recall, as a newborn baby she was left in our parking lot (November 14, 2010),
where she was found by a parishioner and rushed to the hospital. She was soon placed
with a loving family, which wound up adopting her. We usually celebrate her birthday
with her with a special birthday party after Masses, but this year her family will be out of
town. But we continue to give praise to the Lord Jesus for saving her life that day, and
that she has grown into a healthy vivacious little girl.
This Week’s Speaker. This week we continue our Distinguished Speaker series with
Austin Ruse speaking on his new book, Under Siege: No Finer Time to be a Faithful
Mr. Ruse has headed the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) since
shortly after its creation in1997. He is a founder of the National Catholic Prayer
Breakfast and founding columnist at The Catholic Thing. He has published more than 800
essays, articles and columns in numerous publications including regular columns in
Crisis Magazine and The Catholic Thing, and articles in First Things, Washington Times,
National Review Online, Weekly Standard, Human Events, and Touchstone. He is a
former foreign affairs commentator for EWTN’s weekly news broadcast The World Over
hosted by Raymond Arroyo. Most importantly, he is a husband and father of two
daughters (his wife, Cathleen Ruse, has spoken at our parish several times).
He will be talking about his new book, Under Siege: No Finer Time to be a
Faithful Catholic. According to his publisher, Crisis Publications: “In his new book, Ruse
carefully examines how the anti-Christian forces gained power over every elite institution
in America. He exposes their most deviant plans for the future. He then issues his
authoritative call to arms, brilliantly arguing that there is no finer time to be a faithful
Catholic. God Himself called each of us to live in this time and place, to contribute to the

renewal society and the Church, and to vanquish the enemies of civilization…
“More than anything, Ruse argues that, as dark as these days seem to be, future
generations will look upon this generation with envy that they could not have been here
with us in these dangerous times when everything seems so lost.”
Please join us for what I’m sure will be an informative and inspiring evening.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles