August 19, 2023 Column Father De Celles

Parish Picnic. Our annual Parish Picnic is next Sunday, August 27, from 2-5pm here on the Parish grounds, behind the church. There’s lots of food, fun and music for kids and adults alike — a great way to meet and get to know your fellow parishioners. For new parishioners (and visitors) this is a great opportunity to meet people and learn more about the parish; for the rest of us, this is one of the best chances we will have all year to welcome others into the life and fellowship of our parish—don’t pass it up!

Parish Updates.

“Operation Lost Sheep.” I’m sure you remember that back in May I announced  “Operation Lost Sheep” to try to address the lower Mass attendance since our return from Covid. At that time you were extremely cooperative in helping me take attendance for two weeks of Sunday Masses by completing in-pew surveys—about 650 households responded, which is phenomenal!

Over the summer we used that information to try to identify who might be missing Mass, so we could then invite, encourage and help them come back. The secretaries personally called almost 350 families to see what we could do for them in this regard. We found that many of these families were attending Mass at St. Raymond’s but either were elsewhere on the Sundays we took the surveys or had not participated. We also found that some had moved out of the parish without letting us know.

As for the rest, we discovered some folks we were unaware of who are unable to attend Mass because of illness or infirmity—now we can help them with that in various ways. We also found that a few families are still hesitant to attend Mass because of fears of Covid, especially due to family members with compromised immune systems. And a few households never answered our calls or returned our voice messages.

But the best news is that our calls encouraged a lot of folks to come back to Mass. Which makes all of our efforts worthwhile.

Thanks to all of you for your cooperation, and thanks to our parish staff for their diligent (and kind) work. And thanks be to God for his grace in all of this. Please pray for all those who are unable to attend, for those who are otherwise struggling to attend, and those who are returning to Mass.

Sound System Upgrade. Last Sunday we ran another quick in-pew survey to get input on the problems with our sound system, and we received many very helpful responses. In compiling the results, we came up a map of the church consolidating and summarizing all the indicated problem spots (echoes, low sound, unclear sound), and were definitely able to see some “trends.” The next day I met with our sound specialist, who proved very knowledgeable and helpful, and we discussed various ways to address the problems.

As I had hoped, I think we can address the problems with a combination of improved technology (which has markedly advanced since our current system was installed 15 years ago) and some relocation of speakers. He will propose various solutions for me to choose from in the next few weeks, including ways for folks to directly pick up the sound in their hearing aids. I will report back with details.

This will be expensive: over $25,000, I’m sure. But I am very hopeful that we will see a big improvement. Let us pray.

Some Small Liturgical Changes. Over the summer Fr. Bergida was able to work with the Altar Servers to work on serving practices and skills, and to introduce some small changes in their serving that I’ve been intending for a long while. Small changes, but we think they add to the sense of reverence in the Mass.

One change that many have asked about is why, at some Masses, do the Servers raise the priest’s chasuble slightly as the celebrant elevates the Sacred Host and then the Chalice during the Consecration? (NB: the “chasuble” is the large colored vestment the priest wears over all the other vestments).

This practice is an ancient practice required in the Extraordinary Form Mass, but largely forgotten, though still permitted, in the New Mass. The practice is ancient and originates in that period when chasubles were voluminous and made it difficult for the priest to raise his arms above his head: lifting the lower corners of the chasuble gives the priest greater freedom of movement. That is the practical purpose.

But there are also symbolic meanings imputed over the centuries.

The Chasuble traditionally symbolized the yoke of Christ, and so is the symbol of Christ’s charity (which is why it goes over all the other vestments). As the Server touches the garment it symbolizes that the Love/Charity of Christ flows out from the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Christ’s Love/Charity.

Similarly, touching the Chasuble recalls the Scripture passage: “a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” And Jesus’ reaction: “Jesus said, ‘someone touched me: for I perceived that power had gone forth from me.’”

Finally, I have also always associated this with a sort of symbolic levitation of the priest, as he holds and elevates the sacred species, symbolically raising all of us into heaven.
So, a subtle change, but, I think, a beautiful and meaningful one.

Gender Craziness News. Did you see this reported by Fox News:

“A California hospital executive and professor claimed children can identify as a mythology-inspired creature and claimed that this category of children love mermaids, according to a presentation reviewed by Fox News Digital.

Diane Ehrensaft, a self-identified “feminist” who supports a “gender revolution,” is the director of mental health and chief psychologist at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital gender development center. She is also a professor at UCSF School of Medicine. The developmental and clinical psychologist specializes in pediatric “gender-affirmative care for transgender and gender-expansive patients.”

Her biography paged reflected that Ehrensaft focuses her research on how genders before puberty develop as well as the mental health effects of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, which are part of chemical sex changes, on children.

Ehrensaft made what some may consider fringe claims about gender ideology, including that kids can identify as “gender hybrids” which include a mythology-inspired creature called a “gender Minotaur,” and that kids can change their genders by season and can have different identities depending on their location.

According to Britannica, a “Minotaur” is derived from Greek mythology and was a creature which had the body of a man and the head of a bull.

“I totally agree we are in the midst of a gender revolution and the children are leading it. And it’s a wonderful thing to see. And it’s also humbling to know [children] know more than we do about this topic of being gender expansive,” she said during a 2018 talk at the San Francisco Public Library.

God save us from these “mental health experts.” They’re nuts!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles