September 19, 2020 Column Father De Celles

Voting. Many have called the upcoming General Election on
November 3 “the most important election of our lifetimes.” As
the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: “coresponsibility for the common good make[s] it morally obligatory…to 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.
Several parishioners have told me that they have received mailings from various political organizations that include either information about voting absentee, voting by mail or even apparent ballots. Since I have not seen all of these mailings, I can’t really express an opinion or give any
clarification regarding them.
But I can give you advice on how to avoid any confusion. Throw any such mailings away, and go to the official election page of the Commonwealth of Virginia: There you will find all the
information you need about voting. It will tell you: how to register or change/update your registration to vote when to vote and where to vote
how to vote early IN-PERSON (see below) how to vote early or absentee by mail.
Also, we will have a table set up in the narthex of the
church after all the Sunday Masses on the weekends of
September 26-27 and October 3-4. They will be manned by
parishioners knowledgeable in helping you to vote. There will
also be all sorts of forms and informational handouts.
Also, many of you may have decided to vote early/
absentee, especially if you think you may not be able to get to the
polls on Election Day, or if you have health concerns about
voting on Election Day. If you decide to vote early/absentee I
recommend you do so “in person,” and not by mail.
Also, remember these important dates:
September 18: first day of absentee in-person/early
voting at the Fairfax County Government Center
October 13: last day to register to vote (in-person: 5:00
p.m., online: 11:59 p.m.)
October 14: first day of absentee in-person/early voting
at satellite locations
October 23: last day to apply for an absentee ballot by
mail, 5:00 p.m.
October 31: last day to apply in person for an absentee
ballot, 5:00 p.m.
October 31: last day for absentee in-person/early voting,
5:00 p.m.
November 3: Deadline to hand deliver absentee ballots
to Office of Elections is 7:00 p.m.
November 3: absentee ballots must be postmarked no
later than November 3.

Masks. Some folks have approached me about the “rules”
about wearing face-masks at Mass. While it is “expected” that
everyone (except little children) will wear masks, we all should
realize that the Governor’s Executive Order provided several
exceptions to his mandate. For example, there are exceptions
for “Persons with health conditions that prohibit wearing a face
covering” (and we are prohibited from asking for proof of this),
and also “to participate in a religious ritual.” Moreover, many
reasonably question the constitutionality of his mandate.
Because of all this, while I “expect” you to wear a mask,
I do not absolutely require it. Nor will I question you about not

wearing a mask, or in any way think lesser of you for not wearing
a mask. I myself do not wear a mask for several reasons.
However, I will “absolutely require” than no one cast
judgment on anyone for not wearing a mask. You don’t know
why they are not wearing one. Maybe it’s because they have some
medical reason (remember the law, and charity, says you can’t
even ask what that medical reason is). This is the sin of rash
judgment: judging when you clearly don’t have all the facts.
So it pains me when I hear of some folks at Mass giving
“dirty,” “judgmental” or “condescending” looks at people who do
not wear masks. And conversely, it pains me when those who
don’t wear masks are not at least sensitive to those who might be
nervous about that. Folks, everyone show some charity and
compassion for each other—even when you disagree. Good
grief, we complain and worry about our country not being able to
live civilly together. In church, at Mass, we have no choice if we
love one another as Christ commands.
God Bless the Police. I for one am angry as heck that our
police have come under attack from the far-left-Marxist-backed
rioters in so many of our cities. Of course there have been a few
cases unjustified violence against minorities, especially Blacks.
Whatever the solution to that, a few bad apples don’t spoil the
whole orchard. Most police and law enforcement officers are men
and women of great integrity and concern for the communities
they serve. And they DO serve. Every day, they put on a badge
and a gun and risk their lives to keep us safe. And every day we
should appreciate the risk they take and the service they provide
A few years ago, I was having a particularly bad day.
Everything was going wrong and I was depressed and angry at
everything. And then it got worse: I was pulled over by a
policeman for speeding. And it got even worse: I misunderstood
the officers’ instructions and understandably put him on edge. And
then I did something really stupid, something I never do, because I
know better: I started arguing with the officer. Now, he may have
been somewhat in the wrong, but he was just doing the job I asked
him to do—a tough job that you couldn’t pay me enough money to
do. What was I doing arguing with the poor and good man?
As he went back to his car to check on my registration, It
struck me how stupid and offensive I’d been. By the time he came
back to me I was literally fighting back tears of shame and I was
profusely apologizing all over myself for my disrespect, and
asking him to cite me for whatever violations he wanted. God
bless the poor man, he seemed to choke up too, and let me go with
a warning.
I am still embarrassed and ashamed of this relatively
minor incident. So it breaks my heart to hear and see policemen
today being spat at, yelled at and even shot at. The recent coldblooded attempted assassination/ambush of two Los Angeles
County deputies, should make us all angry to the bone, not to
mention the “protesters” outside the critically wounded deputies’
hospital shouting vile things, like, “f— the police,” and “we hope
they die.”
But remember, anger is a passion, that is not sinful in
itself, but can become sinful if we let it be controlled by hatred
and senselessness. Rather, let your anger be controlled by love and
reason: forgive your enemies but remember to act courageously to
end the violence against policemen. Speak out, with charity but
with clarity. And remember to vote for those who support our
police, and not those who support folks who disrespect police or
commit violence against them, or who want to tear them down.
And pray for all our law enforcement officers. God bless them.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles