Twenty Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time

October 1, 2016 Column Father De Celles

October: Respect Life. October is “Respect Life Month,” and there’s a lot of news to talk about.

Life Chain. Today, the first Sunday of October, is “Respect Life Sunday.” To kick off this month today, Sunday, October 2, our parishioners will join thousands of Americans in the “Life Chain.” This year, as in the past, over 100 St. Raymond parishioners will join other local pro-lifers lining up on the sidewalk of Franconia Road in front of Key Middle School from 2:30 to 3:30 PM to simply stand peacefully and quietly praying, maybe holding a sign, as a public witness to our respect for the dignity of human life. It is always a very spiritually rewarding event. Please join in. Parking is available at the school, and Pro-Life signs will be available.

40 Days for Life. The Fall 40 Days for Life Campaign, a similar but more prolonged public witness to the right to life, has already begun, and St. Raymond’s will be taking responsibility for this peaceful vigil on the weekend of October 22 and 23. Please visit the display and sign-up sheet in the narthex this weekend and sign up.

Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, PhD. Fr. Tad is back again this year, on Saturday morning, October 8, to speak to us about “Complicated Cases in Pregnancy and the Principle of Double Effect.” For those who don’t know him, Fr. Tad is a nationally renowned neuroscientist-theologian from National Catholic Bioethics Center in Boston. Before beginning his studies for the priesthood, he earned undergraduate degrees in philosophy, biochemistry, molecular cell biology, and chemistry, and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Yale University. He also worked for several years as a molecular biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital-Harvard Medical School. He then began his studies for the priesthood in Rome, where he did advanced work in dogmatic theology and in bioethics. He has done numerous media commentaries, including appearances on CNN International, ABC World News Tonight, and National Public Radio.

Fr. Tad’s topic this year may sound a little complex, but it really will be very practical and helpful, and Fr. Tad is a great teacher. I’m particularly interested in hearing what he has to say about the “principle of double effect,” which helps us when we deal with evaluating acts that bring both good and bad effects—can we do something good if it has a bad effect? I look forward to seeing you there.

Respect Life Chairs. Dave and Maria Westberg have decided to step down as co-chairs of our Respect Life Committee. This is one of the most demanding volunteer positions in the parish, and they have done an excellent job in promoting the cause and coordinating all our pro-life activities. Thank you so much, Dave and Maria, for all your hard work and dedication, and thank you for promising to continue your work as volunteers on the committee.

Filling this position is usually very challenging, but I am relieved to announce that Liz Hildebrand (who had previously chaired the committee) will be returning to the position. I ask all of you to join in helping her in any way you can—in prayers and actions—in this very important part of our parish life.


St. Francis of Assisi. This Tuesday, October 4, is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Although most people think of him primarily for his love of poverty and nature, it is really his love for God who entered into creation in the Incarnation, Jesus Christ, that formed his vocation. This in turn motivated Francis to profound devotion to the mysteries of Jesus’ life and His sacraments, especially His real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. This led him to promote the popular pious devotion to the crucifix, the Christmas crèche, the stations of the Cross, and to Eucharistic adoration. This is reflected in the prayer he composed that is said so often today, “We adore you O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world” (Note: St. Francis did not compose the prayer so often attributed to him, “Make me a channel of your peace,” which was composed several centuries after his death).

Nevertheless, he is most well known for his teaching and personal example emphasizing poverty, a disposition which turns the heart not to love of creatures but first to the love of the Creator—God is all he wished to possess. But because he loved God, the Creator, he gained a more perfect appreciation and rightly ordered love for God’s creation, gifts from God.

In honor of this great saint then, and appreciation of the gifts God has given us in creation, we continue our custom of Blessing the Animals, next Sunday, October 9, at 2:00, in front of the rectory. Please feel free to bring any pets you have to receive this special blessing. St. Francis, pray for us.


Religious Liberty. Last week’s presidential debates didn’t address it, but it is clear that one of the candidates continues to strongly oppose the right to life, the dignity of traditional marriage, the right to conscience, and religious liberty.

Take for example, Mrs. Clinton’s remarks last year at the “Women in The World Summit”: “Far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health care [i.e., abortion] and safe childbirth… Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” Is she saying that the government should force us to change our religious beliefs  in order to protect the right to abort babies? If so, what other religious beliefs will she require us to change?

And when the Supreme Court ruled in the “Hobby Lobby” case that business employers could not be forced to provide insurance for contraception against their religious beliefs, Mrs. Clinton remarked: “I find it deeply disturbing that we are going in that direction… It is very troubling that a sales clerk at Hobby Lobby who needs contraception…is not going to get that service through her employer’s health-care plan because her employer doesn’t think she should be using contraception…. Many more companies will claim religious beliefs. This is a really bad, slippery slope.”

And when the Supreme Court temporarily ruled in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor on the same issue, she “tweeted”: “Every woman, no matter where she works, deserves birth control coverage. This shouldn’t be a question.” In other words, the so-called “right to contraception,” which is nowhere written into the laws of our nation, outweighs Little Sisters’ religious beliefs, which are specifically protected by law and the Constitution.

One thing seems certain, and she has said it many times: she would appoint judges to the Supreme Court who share her deplorable views on these issues.


Speaking of the Little Sisters of the Poor. The good Sisters from Richmond will be here this weekend at every Mass. Please be generous in supporting their mission of taking care of the poor and elderly, especially as they stand firm in the face of government assaults on their (and our) religious beliefs.


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles