Twenty First Sunday In Ordinary Time

August 20, 2016 Column Father De Celles

Summer Continues, for a while. Summer is a very interesting time for me. Besides the regular day-to-day work of the parish, the first month I spend a lot of time finishing up the work from the last school year, the second I do a lot of planning for the coming year, and the last month I spend a lot of time working on finalizing details for the coming year. This year we also had the added busyness of a change in parochial vicars. So it’s pretty busy.

But then there’s the other side of things: there’s a sharp decline in Mass attendance, and a noticeable decrease in requests from parishioners for meetings, assistance etc. So there is a slower pace about things, which appeals to my southern upbringing (or my basic laziness). And somewhere in there I try to squeeze in some time off.

From what I gather, this is similar to the summer most of you experience. Some things are busier, some are slower. So there’s some stress, but also some relaxation.

But now, we see the end of summer approaching. I know a lot of you will be away sometime in the next 3 weeks for one final getaway. Good for you! But there’s also lots of preparation to be done for the coming year—especially with school looming. It’s easy to let some things slip in this regard, especially aggravated by a certain sense of denial and longing for the summer peace to continue.

One of the areas this effects the most is planning for our children’s Religious Education, CCD. Every August I panic a bit as the RE/CCD office tells me that registrations for the coming year are very low… And every September they shoot up to more or less “normal” levels. But this year I’d like that to change a little bit if we can. One of the things I’ve been working on this summer is helping Mary Salmon, our Director of Religious Education (CCD), plan some very important enhancements to our program. I am very excited about these improvements, especially in our High School program. But they are useless if parents don’t sign their children up for classes. What can be more important than educating our children in the faith? Especially, this year, as FCPS charges madly into brainwashing our kids with their foolish notions of morality and even common sense.

So, enjoy the rest of your summer. But don’t forget to enroll in CCD. Contact our Religious Education for more information—and do so this week, please.

And also—we can’t teach if we have no teachers!! We are in urgent need of several catechists and aides. With all the problems in the world, I hear people ask, “What can we do?” Simple answer: “teach CCD.”


St. Raymond of Peñafort: Father of Canon Law. Our patron, St. Raymond, is famous for many things, i.e., his holiness, miracles, preaching, writings on moral theology, work as a confessor, conversion of Muslims, etc. But he is most well-known for work in organizing the laws of the Church (“ecclesiastic law,” or “Canon Law”). In fact, he is known as the “Father of Canon Law,” and is the patron saint of lawyers, especially canon lawyers.

Sadly, too many Catholics don’t know much about ecclesiastic law, or think of it as just a bunch of useless rules. But the laws of the Church are important, because they help us apply the laws of God to important practical situations in life, especially our common life together. So, for example, Canon Law delineates the obligations and rights of parishioners and priests in order that we can all live together in a peaceful and cooperating community, respectful of each other and responsible to each other.

         The Church’s Laws on Marriage. One of the most important aspects of Church Law that every Catholic should be knowledgeable of is the laws on marriage, especially those that govern how a Catholic goes about entering a valid Catholic marriage—i.e., a true marriage in the eyes of God. Considering how important marriage is all Catholics should be aware of certain basic requirements of the law before they consider marriage, and should seek to comply with all the marriage laws when they become aware of them.

So let me give a brief list of some of the ecclesiastic laws on marriage all Catholics should be aware of. Note that some of these directly reflect Divine and/or Natural Law, and are therefore not “merely” Church law.

First, laws that effect the validity of a marriage (if these are not obeyed, the marriage is invalid, i.e. the couple is not married in the eyes of God):

–Catholics normally must be married in a Catholic ceremony before a Catholic priest or deacon; attempts to marry in any other sort of ceremony (e.g., before a justice of the peace, in a Protestant church, etc.), are usually not valid.

–A Catholic may not marry if either of the couple has been married before and not received an “annulment” from the Catholic Church. Note: non-Catholics do not have to be married by a Catholic priest, so we usually recognize the marriage of two non-Catholics before a justice of the peace, preacher, etc. Note also: The Church will consider a petition for annulment even of a previous marriage between two non-Catholics.

–A Catholic wishing to marry a non-Catholic must make two promises (and inform his/her non-Catholic fiancé): 1) to do everything in his/her power to raise all the children from the marriage as Catholics, and 2) that this marriage will not lead him/her away from the Catholic faith.

–Couples must:

–accept and intend the three “goods of marriage”: 1) permanence (i.e., no divorce), 2) fidelity (faithful all throughout their marriage) and 3) procreation (open to the birth of children);

–give free consent to the marriage, without force or fear;

–have “sufficient use of reason,” not “suffer from a grave lack of discretionary judgment,” and/or be psychologically able to “assume the essential obligations of marriage”;

–not be impotent at the time of the marriage.

–There are also very specific rules regarding which priest may validly officiate at marriages.


(An invalid marriage can often be easily “remedied”: assuming no complicating factors—e.g., need for annulment of a previous marriage—after a period of preparation with a priest, the couple can be married in a simple Catholic ceremony.)


There are other important ecclesiastic laws that effect the liceity (legality) of the wedding. Disobeying these norms does not make the marriage invalid, but they still bind us, normally under pain of sin.

–Catholics normally must:

–be married in a Catholic church or chapel;

–be Confirmed before marriage, unless this can’t “be done without grave inconvenience”;

–go through a period (usually 6 months) of preparation and investigation before the marriage can take place;

–be married in the parish which they physically reside;

–coordinate with and receive necessary permissions from their lawful pastor.


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles