August 28, 2021 Column Father De Celles

Summer. Is it really over? Say it isn’t so. Maybe we can stretch it out to Labor Day…

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 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, beginning the week of September 12. Make sure your children attend class and do their homework every week.  Please 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. 

Parish Picnic. Today (Sunday, August 29) is our annual Parish Picnicfrom 2-5pm here on the Parish grounds, behind the church. After the last year and a half, this is first big celebration we’ve had, the first time to get together socially as a parish—so please come! 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!

Thank You Bishop! Last week Bishop Burbidge courageously issued his document entitled, “A Catechesis on the Human Person and Gender Ideology.” This is a must read for all of us, especially parents, teens and young adults, and a great tool for dealing with the lies being spread through our culture today about “identity” and sexuality. I sent an email link to the letter to all of you last week, I hope you received it and read it. Here are some important excerpts:

In this sensitive area of identity, however, there is a great danger of a misguided charity and false compassion. In this regard, we must recall, “Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral.” 

“The claim to “be transgender” or the desire to seek “transition” rests on a mistaken view of the human person, rejects the body as a gift from God, and leads to grave harm. To affirm someone in an identity at odds with biological sex or to affirm a person’s desired “transition” is to mislead that person, speaking and interacting…in an untruthful manner. Although …[we need to] discern the best time to communicate the fullness of the truth, in no circumstances can we confirm a person in error. 

“Indeed, there is ample evidence that “gender affirmation” not only does not resolve a person’s struggles but also can in fact exacerbate them. The acceptance…of a person’s claimed transgender identity is particularly dangerous in the case of children, whose psychological development is both delicate and incomplete.…Affirming a child’s …desire to “be” someone other than the person (male or female) God created, gravely misleads and confuses the child about “who” he or she is.  

“In addition, “gender-affirming” medical or surgical interventions cause significant, even irreparable, bodily harm to children and adolescents.… and are morally unacceptable…. 

“Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to claims that “gender transition” will resolve their difficulties. Long-term studies show “higher rates of mortality, suicidal behavior and psychiatric morbidity in gender-transitioned individuals … In addition, studies show that children…diagnosed with gender dysphoria have high rates of comorbid mental health disorders, such as depression …Psychotherapeutic treatments …are appropriate interventions.….  

            “Those asserting a transgender identity and/or seeking to “transition” often adopt new names and pronouns…. We can never say something contrary to what we know to be true. To use names and pronouns that contradict the person’s God-given identity is to speak falsely.….[I]n no circumstances should anyone be compelled to use language contrary to the truth.

“For Parents…You are the first and the best teachers of your children. …From you they will learn the truth of who they are, the dignity of the human body, the meaning of human sexuality, and the glory of their being children of God. Nothing can substitute for the school of the family…In addition…raising your children also requires vigilance against dangerous ideas and influences …[including] the internet and social media.…  

“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….

“Finally, a word to those struggling with gender dysphoria….Every one of us has a struggle that is unique. But none of us should feel alone or abandoned in his or her struggles….Please know that…God’s unrelenting love for you means that He loves you in the totality of your body as well…”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles