August 26, 2023 Column Father De Celles

Reminder to Our Youth.

“It is Jesus you seek when you dream of happiness;

he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you;

he is the beauty to which you are so attracted;

it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness

that will not let you settle for compromise;

it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life;

it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices,

the choices that others try to stifle…

It is Jesus who stirs in you

the desire to do something great with your lives,

the will to follow an ideal,

the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity,

the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently

to improving yourselves and society,

making the world more human and more fraternal.”

-Saint John Paul II, World Youth Day, 2005

Back to School. Most of our college and grade/high school children went back to school last week, and even many homeschoolers have started their new academic year. I hope you have all had a wonderful summer, and are rested and refreshed and ready to take on the new challenges of the coming academic year and have a blessed year.

For those of you returning to the Fairfax County Public Schools, I wish you wouldn’t, but I respect your choices and will pray for a good year for you. I remind you to be on guard against the growing anti-Christian bigotry, ideology and culture growing in the schools. Watch for curriculum that tries to degrade any race — including “whites.” Catholics don’t hate or degrade others or themselves. We don’t dwell on the offenses of the past, but believe in conversion, forgiveness and the dignity of every human being. Beware also of those who try to degrade your or other’s bodies, either by encouraging sexual promiscuity or identity confusion.

Parents, you know better than I do that you cannot simply let the government/public schools take charge of the education of your children. YOU are the primary educators of your children, so remember to monitor and discuss with your children what they are being taught in school. Of course, remember to opt your children out of anything that attempts to teach them secular morals, especially sexual and family morals, i.e. especially any relevant sections of “Family Life Education.” But also remember to be on guard against the Marxist-secularist-atheist ideologies that will be permeating almost every class, from social sciences to math. There are many  good and dedicated teachers and administrators in public schools (many of our parishioners), so seek them out and support them. But don’t assume that all teachers and administrators share your values or education goals.

CCD/Religious Education. And remember to register today (online or in person) for Religious Education classes here at St. Raymond’s, which begin the week of September 10. Make sure your children attend class and do their homework every week, and work with them at home to help them understand what they’ve learned in class. An hour a week in CCD isn’t enough, on its own, to teach your children the Faith—in fact, you should really consider it only as a supplement to what you continue to teach them at home.

And those of you with children in Catholic schools, don’t forget your responsibilities either. Catholic schools are a great option when it comes to teaching morality and Christian values, but no school or teacher is perfect. So, trust, but verify. And continue to teach them the Faith at home. 

Parents are the First Teachers. Remember the words of Bishop Burbidge in his letter, “A Catechesis on the Human Person and Gender Ideology.”

“Another strong source of misinformation …is, regrettably, the public education system. [M]any…aggressively promote a false understanding of the human person in their advocacy of gender ideology….Parents with children in public school must therefore ….be even more vigilant and vocal against this false and harmful ideology….

Parish Picnic. Today (Sunday, August 27) is our annual Parish Picnic 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 a deeper participation in the life and fellowship of our parish—don’t pass it up!

Requiescat in Pace. I was deeply saddened to learn last Friday that Judge James Buckley, a truly great American statesman, had died at the age of 100. This is a brief bio from a friendly website:

“James L. Buckley was born in New York City in 1923, grew up in rural Connecticut, and received his B.A. degree from Yale. Following service as a naval officer in World War II, he returned to New Haven to secure his law degree. After several years in private practice, he joined a group of small companies engaged in oil exploration abroad. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1970 as the candidate of New York’s Conservative Party. He failed of re-election; but he has since served as an undersecretary of state in the Reagan administration, as president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich, Germany, and, most recently, as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He retired in 2000.”

That just doesn’t say enough though. (Go to National Review Online and check out their Tribute). He was one of the most brilliant and clear thinking leaders of the last 100 years. He was a towering voice in the conservative and pro-life movement (as Senator he introduced the Human Life Amendment in 1973 to protect the unborn). He was a mentor to countless lawyers, judges, and politicians. He was one of a family of 10 children (including brother William F. and sister Priscilla). He was the father of 6 children, and the devoted husband of his incredible wife, Ann, whom he lovingly nursed for several years after she was paralyzed in an automobile accident. He was a gentleman, a kind man, a man of true charity.

And he was a holy man. He was a devout Catholic who loved Our Lord and the Catholic Faith as much as anyone I’ve ever known. And I’m deeply honored to say that over the last 10 years or so, by some kind gift of providence, I had gotten to know him rather well (you might have seen him at some of our Friday evening Extraordinary Form Masses). Even at 100 years old his memory was clear, his mind was sharp and his advice was profound. I will miss him. But I know he is on his way to heaven. Please pray for him.

Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei: Requiescat in pace. Amen.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles