Assumption of Mary. Tomorrow, August 15, we celebrate the Solemnity of the
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is usually a Holy Day of Obligation, but not
this year, since it falls on a Monday. It recalls the day in history when, as Pope Pius XII
infallibly declared in his 1950 Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus: “the
Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her
earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” This, of course, is a great
day in the life of our Blessed Mother so we rightly celebrate it as such. But it is also a
great day for the life of the Church and for each Christian. Because, as we pray, “where
she has gone, we hope to follow.” Our Lord Jesus has given to His Mother the heavenly
rewards of her faith and love on earth, rewards that we hope to share in when we die.
But it’s important to remember that this feast is not just about Mary going to heaven: it is
about her having her body with her in heaven, just as Jesus has His Body in heaven. This
reminds us that at the end of time, all the souls who go to heaven after death (including
by way of the cleansing of Purgatory) will be reunited with their glorified bodies in the
Resurrection of the Dead.
This, in turn, reminds us that all of us are created to live bodily in heaven, that we
are not souls imprisoned in bodies, nor are we souls using an outward shell (the body)
that we can manipulate or abuse as we choose without affecting or damaging our souls.
Our body is part of us, that part that communicates to others. And so what we do with our
bodies expresses us and who we are. This is important in these days when so many
people seem to think the body means nothing—you can abuse it with drugs or deviant
sex, or you can even mutilate it with senseless surgeries. The Assumption reminds us, no!
the human body—ours and everyone else’s—has a fundamental dignity. It is US. It is, in
some fundamental sense, created in the image of God. And is destined for the glory of
To New Parishioners. Summer is always a time we lose and gain parishioners,
especially those in the military. So I’d like to welcome all who have joined us in the last
few months. I hope you find St. Raymond’s’ to be a welcoming parish, and I encourage
you to get involved in our many liturgies, committees, and activities.
One thing to know about our parish is that we place great importance on the Grace
and Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Flowing from this you will find a
pronounced emphasis on reverence, especially during Holy Mass, what I call “emphatic
reverence.” Nowadays reverence is a lost virtue. The word “reverence” comes from the
Latin for “fear,” “revere,” and Scripture tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning
of wisdom.” But this kind of fear is not like being in terror or afraid, but rather of being
in “awe”: recognizing that God is the all-powerful creator and sustainer of the whole
world, and I am just a little tiny speck in comparison—and yet, he loves me. So Christian
reverence is fundamentally rooted in love.
So we go out of our way here in our liturgies to be reverent, to remind ourselves
we are in the presence of God, the God who loved us so much He became one of us and
died for our sins on the Cross, and gave us the Eucharist to be with us always, even to
enter into us, especially in the mystery of His Sacrifice.
To encourage this reverence we follow some ancient customs of the Church that
set the liturgy apart as radically different from the mundane world we live in. For
example, we sing traditional Catholic hymns, which are different than most contemporary
liturgical music that incorporates so many aspects of modern secular music. And we use
the ancient language of the Church, Latin, to remind us we’re doing something very
different, in union with the Church all the way back to the time of Jesus. And we
incorporate beautiful vestments and vessels to remind us that Mass is a participation in
the heavenly banquet come down to earth. And at most Masses the priest turns with the
people, so that facing the same direction as them, he leads them in prayer before the Most
It’s a little different. But then again, so is God. Welcome to St. Raymond’s.
Captain Paul X. Rinn. We mourn our loss of a beloved member of our parish, Paul
Rinn, who died suddenly and unexpectedly on August 3. Paul was a true American hero.
As one public article tells: as a young officer he served as a “counterinsurgency adviser
and military training officer along the Mekong River and was involved in combat
operations along its upper reaches.” Which is code for saying he endured great, brave and
heroic sacrifices for America, the details of which we will never know.
But one display of his heroism was well known. On April 14, 1988, he was
commanding the frigate Samuel B. Roberts, in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War,
when it struck an Iranian mine. By all accounts it should have sunk, except for Paul’s
leadership both in the moment and in the months before. The ship and crew were saved,
and Paul’s efforts remain a case study in combat preparedness, and the subject of the
book, “No Higher Honor.”
But Paul was more than that. He was a dedicated husband and father, a great
friend, and first and foremost, a devout Catholic. He served our parish in so many
capacities, most especially in advising me. I will miss him.
I am confident in hope that he is on his way to Heaven, but please join me in
honoring this good Catholic man by helping him with your prayers through his final
purification. And please also pray for the consolation of his family, especially his
wonderful wife Pam.
Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei: Requiescat in pace.
(Let me add: it is an honor to serve in a parish where so many of you are American
heroes; thank you, and God bless you for your service.)
To “Anonymously Concerned.” This I write to the parishioner who wrote an
anonymous letter to Bishop Burbidge to criticize me:
My friend, thanks for sending me a copy of your calumnious letter. I don’t read
anonymous letters, but I do skim them to understand what is at stake. All I can say is, is it
truly manly to write such vicious things about someone (me) and then refuse to identify
yourself? Forgive me if I’m wrong, but that strikes me as…what’s the word…? Never
mind. God bless you, and I will pray for you.
Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles