Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 2, 2019 Column Father De Celles

PARENTS BEWARE. In these times of social and moral upheaval and confusion it’s crucial that parents, taxpayers and voters be aware of the social engineering going on in our public schools, the indoctrination of our children with anti/contra-Catholic values. With this in mind we will be sponsoring a talk on, “What Fairfax County Public School Board Has in Store for Your Child,” on October 9, 2019, at 7pm, in the Parish Hall. Our main speaker will be Cathy Ruse, Senior Fellow of Legal Studies at the Family Research Council. She will be joined by Erin Lobato, founding member of Voices of Fairfax (and an active FCPS Parent), and Laura Murphy, member of the FCPS Family Life Education Advisory Committee.
This meeting is open to all, and I strongly encourage parents, taxpayers and voters to attend.

Reductio ad Absurdum. Sometimes in order to really understand how ridiculous an idea is we have to extend its internal logic out to its logical ends; when the logical end is proven to be absurd, we see the idea itself is absurd. We call this reductio ad absurdum, “reduction to absurdity.” So, for example, in the debate over climate change or environmental protection, some people believe that plants are living beings equal in status to human beings (the absurd “idea”). When we take the internal logic of this idea out to its logical ends, we conclude that plants should have the right to vote, and it is murder and grotesque to eat plants. Or…. that we should fill our sanctuary with a bunch of plants and then kneel before them begging for forgiveness for our sins against them. The end is absurd, so the idea (plants are equal to human beings) is absurd.
Unless you attend the Union Theological Seminary in New York, the oldest independent Protestant seminary in the country. As the Washington Examiner reported on September 18:
“Students at Union Theological Seminary prayed to a display of plants set up in the chapel of the school, prompting the institution to issue a statement explaining the practice as many on social media mocked them.
“‘Today in chapel, we confessed to plants…Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor. What do you confess to the plants in your life?
“‘We are in the throes of a climate emergency, a crisis created by humanity’s arrogance …Far too often, we see the natural world only as resources to be extracted for our use, not divinely created in their own right—worthy of honor, thanks and care. We need to unlearn habits of sin and death. And part of that work must be building new bridges to the natural world. And that means creating new spiritual and intellectual frameworks by which we understand and relate to the plants and animals with whom we share the planet.’
“‘No one would have blinked if our chapel featured students apologizing to each other….What’s different …is that we’re treating plants as fully created beings, divine Creation in its own right—not just something to be consumed. Because plants aren’t capable of verbal response, does that mean we shouldn’t engage with them? So, if you’re poking fun, we’d ask only that you also spend a couple moments asking: Do I treat plants and animals as divinely created beings?’”
In response, Jesus issued a statement (we call it “Genesis 1”), “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. …And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food;…everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”

Parish Finance Report. Please find the Finance Report of the year ended June 30, 2019, inserted in this bulletin.
Operating Income (mainly from offertory and long-term maintenance collections, and other donations) was $2,257,895, down $155,328 (or 6.4%) from the prior year, while Operating Expenses were $1,869,637, down $65,819 (or 3.4%) from the prior year, leaving us a Net Operating Income of $388,258, down $89,509 from the prior year.
The decline in Operating Income is mainly due to a noticeable decline in our offertory collection. From an analysis of the detailed accounts, I believe this is mostly due to some of our “larger” donors giving less this year because we paid off our debt at the very end of the previous year. That makes sense.
(Even so, some of the decline may reflect unhappiness with the Church’s response to the Bishops’ scandals (e.g., McCarrick), although I believe that was reflected more clearly in the decline in our donations to the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal, which was down by over $49,000 or 16%, from the previous year.)
We also had Extraordinary Income of $ 21,610 and Extraordinary Expenditures of $274,153, both related to the Lighting and Mural Project (except $27,787 for security cameras, and $22,264 for other expenditures). This left us with a Net Surplus (the bottom line) of $135,715.
On the Balance Sheet side of things, we had Cash of $134,852 in checking and $1,387,244 in savings, with $16,851 in Accounts Payable. Of the cash in savings, $256,611 is restricted, i.e., funds dedicated to paying for Long-Term Maintenance.
Please feel free to contact me or Kirsti Tyson in the parish office with any questions about the report.

Lighter Fare: Hats. I have a pretty small and drab personal wardrobe, a lot of black stuff, and a few things for golf. But one aspect of my wardrobe that is a more diversified and attracts some comments are my hats. I learned a long time ago I cannot survive without a hat: in the summer they protect my pale skin and bald head from burning, and in the winter they help keep me from catching the colds and sinus maladies I am so prone to.
The hats that provoke the most comments are my “clerical hats.” The “biretta” is the black square cap with three peaks, and a tuft on top, which can be worn both during Mass and outside of Mass with a cassock; I’ve been wearing this for years, especially when it’s chilly in the church. But a while back, a family member bought me a “cappello romano” (“Roman hat”), more commonly called a “saturno” because its wide, circular brim and rounded crown it looks a bit like the ringed planet Saturn. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI used to wear theirs pretty frequently. In any case, it’s pretty different, so I don’t wear it very often. But when I do, it gets noticed and asked about. So now you know.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles