Tuesday, May 19th

Good afternoon, Good afternoon,

Today is the 36th anniversary of priesthood for Bishop Burbidge.  He and I entered the seminary on the same day, even though I was three years ahead of him.  I sent him a congratulatory text this morning for his thirty-six years and reminded him he should be proud to have been with the second best class in the seminary…  Let us remember the good bishop in our prayers.  God bless him for his great work and inspiration for the diocese.


One of my lovely guardian angels in the parish asked me to write a letter on St. Francis De Sales (1567-1622) An interesting suggestion.  The story of a saint is very much colored by the strengths of the individual in a world that revolves, in this case, around him.  But what if we look at the world he entered and the world he left before we speak of him.

Francis De Sales enters a world of absolute violence on the edge of confusion.  Mary Queen of Scotts has been defeated by the Protestant Highlanders and her cousin, Elizabeth has imprisoned her.  Her death is eighteen years away.   She received a  beheading that took three swings of the Ax.  Very Trinitarian for Queen Mary, the Catholic.  Spain is losing hold over her Netherlands and the Holy Roman Empire is imploding.  The Islamic Moriscos are charging up the Iberian Peninsula with little challenge.  The Huguenots of France try to kidnap King Charles IX.  The War of religion starts in France.  Italy is in a continued state of War with countries to the North.  And the hearts and souls of the French would meet yet another heresy known as Jansenism, proposed by a fallen Catholic priest, who would deny the role of free will in the acceptance and use of God’s grace.  His influence would fall on the Irish seminarians studying in France as the seminaries at home had been suppressed by the foreign landlords.

Islam is set to invade Italy over the Mediterranean Sea.  The Battle of Lepanto (1571) is about to take place.   Born to a regal family along the French border with Switzerland the voice of young Francis is heard with a scream brought to a fractured world in need of a seam.  He would be the “Gentleman Saint” with the calming clarity of an affective and credible teacher.


“In 1583, De Sales went to the Collège de Clermont in Paris, then a Jesuit institution, to study rhetoric and humanities. As a nobleman, he was accompanied by his servant and by a priest tutor, Abbé Déage. To please his father, he took lessons in the gentlemanly pursuits of riding, dancing, and fencing. De Sales is described as intelligent and handsome, tall and well-built with blue-grey eyes, somewhat reserved and quiet, and a welcome guest in the homes of the nobility among whom his father had connections.”

Whatever monetary wealth Francis engaged the world with the weakest part of his life was found in his greatest strength… his mind.  A great student arrived to a world of Protestants proposing their theories of predestination.  More aptly understood as predetermination.  God not only knows our future He imposes a determined direction on who we will become and what will happen to us.  It was also the world of Jansenism. In the current age the one with more “Toys” in the economic and financial world are seen as favored by God’s determination.

“In 1584 Francis de Sales attended a theological discussion about predestination, convincing him of his damnation to hell. A personal crisis of despair resulted. This conviction lasted through December 1586. His great despair made him physically ill and even bedridden for a time. Sometime in either late December or early January 1587, with great difficulty, he visited the old parish of Saint-Étienne-des-Grès, Paris, where he prayed the “Memorare” before a famed statue of Our Lady of Good Deliverance, a Black Madonna. He consecrated himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary and decided to dedicate his life to God with a vow of chastity. He then became a tertiary of the Minim Order.”

The experience mentioned above would open the door for Francis’ future life.  It is best described in his book, “Introduction to the Devout Life.”  Somewhere after the Pandemic has passed we should look at having a parish book club.  The Introduction to the Devout Life would be a good starting point.  It is the philosophical underpinning of his life.

Prior to entering the seminary Francis would, with a Jesuit education, attain a degree in law and one in theology.  He was well known and appreciated for his capabilities for what was evident in his external life.  The internal life, unnoticed to others, was moving ever closer to a religious vocation.  Before going home to Savoy, France, he made a pilgrimage to the Italian city of Loreto to visit the Basilica of the Santa Casa.  The holy house of Joseph and Mary transferred to Loreto.  The vocation to priesthood was now formalized in his heart and soul.  The adventure was on.

In the years that followed he would be become acquainted with Popes and Kings and make a name for his writings answering the Protestant Revolution.  He became a bishop.  Many sought him out for spiritual direction.  To each he greeted and encouraged with a smile.  It was only after his death when they overturned his desk to move it that the found the profound scratching under the desk. Again, the external features of the good priest were easily noted but not the internal facet of temperament.  How foreign to our generation that has been taught to display our tempers as if a virtue where for the future saint of Church it was held subdued.  Ah lessons to be learned… in our time.

In 1610 Bishop Francis and Sr. Jane de Chantal, formed a collective of religious known as the Visitation Sisters.  The order focused on the candidates rejected by other religious communities.  Like, the stone rejected and became the corner stone the sisters became a wellspring of graces for the people of Europe, America, and specifically… Virginia.  The Visitation Sisters in Richmond make altar bread for their livelihood.  Again, a wellspring of many graces.  Both St. Francis De Sales and Sr. Jane would be buried in the First Convent of the Visitation Sisters, in Annecy, France.

The heart of St. Francis was held in Lyon and was secured until the French Revolution when the Visitation Sisters carried it to Venice, Italy.

Now the world he left. St. Ignatius was declared a saint.  The Vatican renamed the office of the Inquisition to the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith.  Lepanto finished and the European shores safeguarded.  Richelieu is named Cardinal under     King Louis XIII.  French accord with Huguenots is attaned.  The Visitation Sisters continue the apostolate of prayer, penance, and service.  There is no telling how many religious orders of the Church have risen, and disappeared in the last three hundred years, but the stones rejected… are still here.  Well done.  Let us pray for one another.










Communion after Mass.  Let’s do it all over again this Sunday.  I enclose my notes from the rush hour parish letter, last Saturday.

  1.  We are committed to the single families coming for First Communion Masses on the weekends at  8:30, 10:30, and now… 12:15 PM in the coming Sunday Masses.
  2. Masses will still be available by Vimeo, https://vimeo.com/event/31282/videos/419345358

You can reach the Vimeo connection on the parish website.  On the very first line under the photo of the Church look for “Liturgies, Sacraments, and Devotions…”click here.”  The system will take you to the church camera site.

  1. Forty-five minutes following the beginning of each Mass Communion sites will be opened in the front foyer of the church and the parish academic center for all parishioners who would like to receive Communion.  It is presumed they watched the Mass on Vimeo before coming for Communion.  The times for Communion sites will be: 9:15- 10 AM, 11:15- Noon, 1-1:45 PM
  2. Procedure for receiving.  Keep 6’ distance and masks are preferred.  Enter the Door on the Right and go forward to the priest.  Upon receiving go right or left down the hallway in the academic center.

In the church, upon receiving turn right and exist by the Chapel door.  Or turn left and exit the door opposite those you entered.

We are assuming that Sunday May 31st, Pentecost, may find us in the Phase 1 of government restrictions… which means attendance is allowed up to 50% of available pews.  A good start.

The Confessionals won’t be completed by that time because the company that makes the doors is shut down for the pandemic.  That should be rectified soon enough and I don’t want to use the new Confessionals until we are back up to 100 %.

Please know, all parishioners over sixty, and/or have physical infirmities, are not obligated to come to Mass on Sunday.  They may want to consider a daily Mass where the numbers should be much smaller.

*****  And last, let everyone know our Confession Schedule is going back to Normal starting next week, after Sunday May 24th .
NO CONFESSIONS on Monday Night or Friday Night.  Confessions, in the Classrooms,  on Wednesday 27th  and Friday morning at 10:30; Saturday morning 8- 8:30; afternoon 3:30-4:30.

Many thanks for the Knights of Columbus and all who were so generous to the food pantry and fund raising this past weekend.  May the angels watch over all of you for the wonderful example of generosity and sacrifice.  Well done.  Let pray for one another.

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