September 4, 2021 Column Father De Celles

Parish Picnic. It was great to see so many of you come out to last Sunday’s picnic–I’m guessing maybe 400. The weather held out again (Thanks God, and St. Raymond!) and everyone had a great time. It was wonderful being able to socialize and mix with each other, and especially to see all the kids having fun together. I felt like a proud papa, or grandpapa, at a family reunion.

          Thanks to all who made it come together, especially all the volunteers (particularly Phil Bettwy), and the parish staff, (particularly Kirsti Tyson), who worked so hard to make it a fun time for all of us. God bless you for your good work.

Labor Day. This weekend our nation celebrates “Labor Day,” a day celebrating the hard work of so many Americans that has made our nation so successful in so many ways. We should rightly celebrate this, as “work” is one of the original gifts given to Man by God, as He gave Adam and Eve dominion (“lordship”) over all the earth and commanded them: “fill the earth and subdue it.” That “subduing” of the earth is the work/labor of Man, who was created in the image of the Creator. Man shares in God’s creative work by his labor, and when he works in ways consistent with God’s will, he grows in holiness.

          Often, however, we don’t work in ways consistent with God’s will. Too often we work motivated by envy or greed. Sometimes we deceive or cheat our customers, co-workers, employers or employees. Sometimes we don’t give an honest day’s work for our wages, or we don’t pay just wages to our workers. Sometimes we work too much and neglect our family and God, and sometimes we force our employees to do that. Some neglect work to engage in criminal activities or simple dependence on governments. Of course, some are retired after years of hard work, and some can’t work for good reason—God bless them, and may they work in whatever way they can (volunteering, assisting friends, etc.) so that they may always participate in God’s creative work!

          The Church has a long history of defending the dignity of work and workers, but with the rise of Marxism (Socialism, Communism, etc.) in the 19th century, the Popes began to speak vociferously against these inherently unjust ideologies. All this came to a head in 1891, when Pope Leo XIII issued his monumental encyclical, Rerum Novarum (“Of the New Things”), which is the foundational document of modern Catholic teaching on “social justice.” Sadly, many Catholics misunderstand this teaching. Some Catholics even believe that Socialism is the way to social justice. But as Pope Pius XI wrote in his 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno: “Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory  terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true  socialist.”

          One of the errors/sins of Marxism is to promote class warfare—to pit different groups in society against each other. How is this consistent with the Christian command to “love your neighbor as yourself”? So the Church particularly condemns this aspect of Marxism, whether it manifests in the supposed struggle between the “proletariat” vs. the “bourgeoisie,” capitalists vs. laborers, rich vs. poor, male vs. female, or minority race(s) vs. majority race(s).

          Yet there is a movement in our country that embraces this Marxist class warfare approach in its often violent struggle to reshape our country’s values. Many Catholics have fallen into the snares of this movement, even though it is directly contrary to basic Catholic principles.

          That being said, one of the ways we respect the dignity of the worker is allowing him time to rest from his labors, so it’s good to take a day off from work to honor work: “And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.”

Prayers at the End of Mass. Recently the Archbishop of Chicago created a fuss over praying the Prayer to St. Michael and the Hail Mary after Mass. There seems to be some confusion of the facts of that kerfuffle, but it has generated some questions about why we say these prayers here at St. Raymond’s.

          The practice of praying prayers after Mass, together as a group, is probably as old as the Church is. The idea, promoted by some, that the congregation can’t take two minutes after Mass to pray together, especially when led by their pastor, is absurd. Some say you have to sing the recessional hymn after Mass, not pray prayers; but this is false: there is nothing in the liturgical norms of the Mass that even mentions a recessional hymn. So if you can add a hymn, why not a prayer? After all, a hymn is just a sung prayer, and the maxim in the liturgy is that “whatever can be said can be sung, and vice versa.” Moreover, once the Mass is over there are no rubrics (rules), so the pastor is free to direct the prayers of his people as he sees fit.

          The practice of saying these two specific prayers (the Prayer to St. Michael and the Hail Mary) after Mass, dates back to 1884 when Pope Leo XIII ordered that after all “low Masses” the priest and people would recite together what came to be known as the “Leonine Prayers”: 3 Hail Marys, 1 Hail Holy Queen, a special prayer for the conversion of sinners and the freedom of the Church, and the Prayer to Saint Michael. In 1904, Pope Pius X added the triple invocation of, “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.”

          Although this mandate was officially suppressed in 1964, as I wrote above, once the Mass is over the pastor is free to direct the prayers of his people as he sees fit. So from the first days of my priesthood, I thought, “How can it not be a good thing to pray together at least part of Leonine Prayers,” and so I adopted the current practice which I have shared with you.

Candidate for Delegate. I am not in the business of endorsing candidates, but I am free to tell you about different candidates. The two candidates running for Virginia House of Delegates District 42, which includes most of our parish, are Kathy Tran (the incumbent and Democrat) and Ed McGovern (Republican). Last week I got a call from McGovern asking to meet with me, and we got together, and he told me about his strong positions against abortion, promotion of transgender ideology (especially in schools), Critical Race Theory (CRT), and supporting parent’s rights and school choice. I haven’t heard from Delegate Tran yet, but I would welcome a call from her to discuss her public history of being supportive of abortion, pro-transgender ideology, CRT, and opposing parents’ rights and school choice. I know McGovern was at our picnic, but I didn’t see Tran.

          I encourage you all to get to know more about these candidates, and all the candidates we will choose from on Election Day, November 2, 2021.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles