Today’s first reading from Isaiah (26:4) tells us that the Lord is an eternal Rock! Jesus in the Gospel today tells us that unless we fulfill the Father’s will, we shall not enter into the Kingdom of God. He then goes on to give us a beautiful image of living out the Father’s Will.
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solikdly on rock. And everyone who listen to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” (Mt 7:24-27)
These Scriptures called to mind the chapel at the St. Malo retreat center in Colorado where I made my retreat prior to being ordained a bishop. The chapel there (pictured to the left) was built upon a huge rock formation. This chapel somewhat miraculously survived the recent floods in Colorado. The beautiful pond and stream that were below the chapel are now filled with trees and debris that were carried and deposited by the flood waters. Quite a powerful image of what Jesus is teaching us today about building our lives on HIM as our Rock.
As we build our lives upon Christ, He reveals to us the Father’s Will. Very often, fulfilling God’s Will is accomplished in simple ways, namely being faithful to the promises made in our given state in life. Perhaps what is most needed is the faith that God does have a Will for each of us, and a deep desire to help us know and accomplish His Will.
To know God through Jesus Christ and accomplish His Will through the promptings of the Holy Spirit is indeed a wise plan for life. To do anything less than that Jesus teaches us is foolish, and ultimately ends in ruin.
Almost everyday, we encounter some form of road block or difficulty related to our work, or state in life and or vocation. Our Christian tradition tells us such will be the case for one who follows Jesus. Our ‘language’ for this is typically: “Take up your cross” or “Offer it up.”
When we speak about the cross and its role in the Christian life we immediately think of suffering. Suffering is seldom something we desire to embrace. The topic itself can often be treated with a deaf ear. Recently, a particular grace was offered to help me better understand this spiritual reality.
As I awoke early one morning, I was very aware of a difficult task that lay ahead in the day’s demands. In light of this, the simple phrase came to mind: “Touch the Wounds of Jesus.” Strangely enough, this was a comforting thought. I explored it more prayerfully. As I looked to this challenge in light of the phrase “Touch the Wounds of Jesus” I was immediately aware that only the power that flows from Jesus’ Wounds would bring about a good outcome for this difficulty that could not be avoided. I realized that my efforts in this regard in the past had been insufficient.
As I began working on the task at hand, I faced more challenges, and the phrase was repeated “Touch the Wounds of Jesus.” Now, other thoughts came with it: “Do not become frustrated.” “Do not become impatient.” I pressed on, at peace. I then began to come to deeper understanding that all such frustrations in our daily life, particularly as they relate to our being disciples of Jesus are not just opportunities to Touch the Wounds of Jesus, but are actual experiences, meant to allow that power of His mercy and love flow into us.
Touching the Wounds of Jesus is a meditation on the love of God, the mercy of God, the healing, redeeming power of God. A part of the experience of the Incarnation for us also entails a faith-filled encounter with the Wounds of Jesus. Think of the power that flows from these Wounds – the power of God to forgive the sins of the world. It is precisely this power, this mercy and love of God that we need at work in our life and in all that we do in the Name of Jesus.
For greater context, we can look to today’s Gospel from St. Luke (10:21-22):
“All things have been handed over to me by the Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
The Wounds of Jesus are an important part of the Son revealing the Father to the world. When we suffer in living out our vocation, Jesus is inviting us to touch His Wounds, and in the process, revealing to us the power of God, the mystery of God, the love and mercy of God. This is precisely why the power of God’s weakness is far greater than human strength.
May each of us be willing to allow Jesus to lead us in each moment of our day. May we have the grace to find Jesus in our sufferings, great and small. May we allow the ‘weakness of God’ to be our strength!
On this First Sunday of Advent, Jesus calls us to “Stay Awake!” (Matthew) St. Paul uses similar language when reminding us that this is the “Hour to wake from your sleep; our salvation is near at hand.” (Romans)
Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of the Lord. A time to prepare for the celebration of his historical birth in time. A time to remember his earthly life and ministry, his passion, death, and resurrection. A time to prepare for his second coming in glory.
Matthew’s Gospel recalls many earthly realities such as eating and drinking; marrying and giving in marriage; working in the field and grinding grain. Jesus recalls these realities, not condemning them, but calling us to be wise in our understanding that they are worldly realities that will yield to the greater, the primary and final reality of God.
Advent is a time to assess our life through this proper understanding that our life exists within a broader and eternal reality. This season invites us to see where we are called to live more fully in the Light of Jesus Christ. Where have our habits become a bit disordered, loving the things of this life too much? Where and when have these disordered loves of our life created a ‘darkness’ that needs the Light of Christ once again?
We have just celebrated a national feast of Thanksgiving. We have more than likely done our share of eating and drinking in the past few days. Hopefully, not to indulgence, but can we see how such a celebration can cause us to focus too much on worldly pleasures, too much on self, and not on God’s Kingdom?
Advent is a call to conversion; away from the things of this world and more to God’s Kingdom. This conversion requires a willingness to honestly admit where I am more focused on my needs than those of others; more interested in my will than the Divine Will for my life.
St. Catherine of Siena had a beautiful analogy for how she lived, for how we are to live. Simply it is that as a fish is in the sea, so we are in Christ. The fish sees all things only through the water in which it lives, it experiences all things only through this reality of water that surrounds it. So, too, we are to live fully in Christ. We are to live every reality of our life through our relationship with Christ. Thus, we only love others through our love for Christ. We always see others and all life experience through our relationship with Christ. This is a good starting point for Advent, to live in the Light (Christ); to turn away from darkness and sin, our disordered worldly attachments.
Confession is a necessary part of this journey with Christ, this journey of conversion. Once we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal our sins and disordered loves, we are to bring them to Christ for forgiveness and healing. The Sacrament of Reconciliation then heals our hearts and grants us the grace we need to grow in virtue and holiness; to stand strong in the face of temptation and to leave behind the vices that have been a part of our worldly way of behaving.
A week ago at the National Catholic Youth Conference, it was so beautiful to see so many people going to confession. A large room was set up where 40 priests heard confessions several hours each day. Even across the street from the Convention Center at St. John’s Catholic Church, I would be praying and have people sit down next to me and ask me to hear their confession. What a marvelous experience to see God’s mercy experienced by so many! Let’s get back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Advent!
Conversion is also a call to grow in virtue. This season calls us to be alert to those interior promptings to small acts of love and to act upon them immediately, for such moments are singular in opportunity. It can be as simple as making that next round of coffee for those waking up after you, or pouring another cup of coffee for someone else when pouring your own. It can be washing dishes, washing clothes, helping with the house cleaning or taking time to sit and listen to someone tell you about their life journey.
The home, the family, is where we are called to learn how to love, so that our love can expand to the broader society. The New Evangelization calls us to a greater exercise of love that reaches those on the margins; those most in need of knowing that are loved.
Conversion is a call to an increased reception of the Sacraments. Try to make a daily Mass each week of Advent. The Sacraments are Christ’s great gift to us. When we regularly receive Christ, we are allowing Him to work more fully and intimately within us. We become more fully alive IN Christ, that all we do may done THROUGH him and WITH him.
Let’s make this Advent journey together; together IN, WITH and THROUGH Christ!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
As this Nation’s Day of Thanksgiving dawns, I wish all of you a grace-filled day. No matter the trials of any present moment or of recent past, our God is still present with a loving gaze and a Will to provide for all our needs, not the least of which is our holiness and salvation. Let us give thanks for God’s many blessings, and remember those most in need.
Here is such a thought and prayer from years past from President Abraham Lincoln.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
As the Year of Faith has now drawn to a close, let’s reflect upon some of the encouragement and instruction we have received from the two popes who shared this grace-filled year.
In his first encyclical, Pope Benedict XVI made a very practical teaching that continues to guide my own ministry as a bishop, particularly in assessing our pastoral ministries. I think it is also helpful for every Catholic to examine and assess the full integration of their faith life. Here is what Pope Benedict had to say:
The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being. (Deus Caritas Est #25)
The Holy Father also indicated that each of these three components are equally important. That was the startling statement for me. As Catholics, we ‘understand’ Sacraments. But there is clearly room for improvement when it comes to spending time with God’s Word and regularly expressing our faith in acts of charity. This is what I would like to reflect upon further here, challenging all of us to greater fidelity in all three areas of our faith.
Even though the regular reception of the Sacraments is understood by Catholics as fundamental to our faith, statistics tell us that only about 25 – 30 % of Catholics attend Mass every weekend. We need to do better! Even fewer Catholics receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) on a regular basis. Jesus makes it clear that “apart from me (Jesus) you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Jesus established the Church and gave us the Sacraments for the express purpose of drawing our human nature into the Divine Life. When we truly understand this, then the Church and the Sacraments will become our first priority and acknowledged as our greatest gift!
This now ended Year of Faith and the New Evangelization are strong invitations to us to take our faith seriously. Pope Francis in his now eight months as our Chief Shepherd is doing everything he can to shake us from a complacent faith. For the New Evangelization to be fruitful, we must have a personal encounter and relationship with Jesus. He must become more than a concept or an idea to us. He desires a PERSONAL relationship with each of us. He is the Vine and we are the branches, and only when we remain in Him will we bear much fruit, fruit that will last. (see John 15:1-5)
Let’s get back to the Sacraments!
In an October 4, 2013 address in San Rufino Cathedral in Assisi, Pope Francis had some beautiful insights regarding the Word of God, and it warrants a healthy quote here:
The first thing is to listen to God’s Word. This is what the Church is: as the Bishop said, it is the community that listens with faith and love to the Lord who speaks. The pastoral plan that you are living out together insists precisely on this fundamental dimension. It is the Word of God that inspires faith, which nourishes and revitalizes it. And it is the Word of God that touches hearts, converts them to God and to his logic which is so different from our own. It is the Word of God that continually renews our communities…
I think we can all improve a bit in this respect: by becoming better listeners of the Word of God, in order to be less rich on our own words and richer in his words. I think of the priest who has the task of preaching. How can he preach if he has not first opened his heart, not listened in silence to the Word of God …
I think of fathers and mothers, who are the primary educators [of their children]: how can they educate them if their consciences have not been enlightened by the Word of God. If their way of thinking and acting is not guided by the Word, what sort of example can they possibly give to their children? This is important, because then mothers and fathers complain: “Oh, this child…”. But you, what witness have you given the child? How have you spoken to him? Have you talked with him about the Word of God or about TV news? Fathers and mothers need to be talking about the Word of God!
And I think of catechists and of all those who are involved in education: if their hearts have not been warmed by the Word, how can they warm the hearts of others, of children, of youth, of adults?
It is not enough just to read the Sacred Scriptures, we need to listen to Jesus who speaks in them: it is Jesus himself who speaks in the Scriptures, it is Jesus who speaks in them. We need to be receiving antennas that are tuned into the Word of God, in order to become broadcasting antennas! One receives and transmits. It is the Spirit of God who makes the Scriptures come alive, who makes us understand them deeply and in accord with their authentic and full meaning! … What place does the Word of God have in my life, in my everyday life? Am I tuned into God or into the many buzz words or into myself? This is a question that everyone of us needs to ask him- or herself.
The Holy Father’s words are plain enough, and do not need much further explanation. Let’s just take them to heart and put them into practice.
Blessed Columba Marmion builds on the importance of God’s Word in the life of the believer, joining it to regular reception of the Eucharist when he taught: “Everday, in Holy Communion, Christ gives Himself entirely to us, He takes us and gives us to the Word. If our whole day could flow from our Communion of the morning, little by little, Christ would transform us and raise us to sublime holiness.” (Union With God, p. 38)
I have often wondered why more Catholics do not take the time to read the bible. If more people and families would spend even 15 – 30 minutes a day reading God’s Word and the Catechism, we would have a far better formation in the faith. This strengthened formation would lead to a greater capacity to live the faith, and thereby further God’s Kingdom in this world.
Finally, how important it is to also practice charity. Practical expressions of love are perhaps the most integrating agent of our reception of Jesus in the Sacraments and our being formed by Jesus through His Word. Thus, charity is the mother of all the virtues. This is why Pope Francis is so regularly reminding us to go to the margins of society and love those who have been rejected.
A society that becomes hardened can no longer see God. That is why we are sent by Jesus to the poor. Those who have the greatest demands upon our faith, compassion and generosity have the greatest ability to reveal the face of Jesus to us. No doubt, this is why our greatest pastoral resource is the creativity of love.
Holiness is for everyone, not for a select few. This was the teaching of Pope Francis during a recent Angelus Address. The Second Vatican Council makes it clear that holiness is the common vocation of every Christian. The path to such holiness is intimately connected with our regular reception of the Sacraments, our formation in God’s Word and loving God in our neighbor.
My dear friends, let us continue to build upon the enthusiasm Pope Francis is breathing into the Church. Let us live faith with joy and enthusiasm. Let us be faithful followers of Christ, and lead many more to come to know Him and find the fullness of life in Christ.
As this year’s National Catholic Youth Conference draws to a conclusion today, my prayer this morning is filled with hopes for our Church and in particular, for the youth of our Church. One of the prayers in this morning’s Liturgy of Hours reminds us that to serve the Lord is our lasting joy!
Who does not want joy in life? One of the many events of yesterday included an hour-long session with about 50 youth and three bishops for a Q. & A. At the end of the session, one young man asked a very profound question of the three bishops on the panel. He asked: “Do you find fulfillment in your life?” What a great question, because it speaks to the great desire of every human heart to find fulfillment. This questions followed a question and discussion about how to discover one’s vocation. How does someone truly know they have made the right choice regarding their vocation?
My response went something like this. I remember, after a rather arduous vocation discernment of my own, finally ‘making it to the altar.’ (I was ordained a priest at the age of 33.) As a young, new priest, just a couple of months into my first assignment, I have a clear recollection of celebrating a Sunday Mass, standing at the altar, looking out at the congregation, and having a strong realization that ‘this is who God created me to be.’ That is fulfillment!
Fulfillment in this life is that simple, that profound. Finding joy and fulfillment is a matter of discovering God’s path, God’s call, God’s ‘mission’ for one’s self. And believe me, God wants to make that calling known to each of us! If one prays with all sincerity to know God’s will, it will become known, and will also be accompanied by a sense of peace.
For us Christians, this will of God is made known to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. The peace that abides in fulfilling God’s will comes from the Holy Spirit. It is a peace we do not give our self, and that is the ‘confirmation’ one seeks after making a decision. True peace comes from the Holy Spirit, and does now allow for self-deception. Similarly, true joy comes from serving the Lord!
The Christian life is not lived for self. This is a tough lesson for our world today. The truth of that came home to me last night as I listened to the main speaker. She was asking questions and prompting responses from the youth. After her ‘build up’ she led the youth to the great summation of the ten commandments given by Jesus and she asked: “Who are we to love?” and the crowd responded: “God!” and then the shocker came when she went for the second part of the great commandment. She then asked: “And we are then to love…” the answer being ‘our neighbor’ but I heard several around me say: ‘our self.’
Now, on the one hand, it shows how self-focused our culture leads us to be. On the other hand, I think it also says a lot about the challenges our young people have today in accepting them selves as they are.
The answer to all of this rests in Jesus. We are called to love Christ. We are called to place Christ at the center of our life, above all else. When Christ has our full attention and our complete devotion, we find our truest self and our greatest fulfillment, because we are being most fully the person God created us to be.
So, Church, let us put Christ first today and always. Thus, we will live … Signed, Sealed, and Delivered.
The National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis this year is a great event. Nearly 25,000 youth have gathered from around the country, and I am so pleased that we have nearly 50 present from Wyoming.
Besides the youth, there are so many dedicated adult leaders and youth ministers, men and women religious, priests and bishops. The energy is electric and speaks volumes of the faith of this young Church. To say the least, these young people give me great hope, and it is such a joy to be with them! I want all of our youth to know, we love you!
The speakers are doing a great job of speaking directly to our youth of Jesus Christ and the reality of our faith. The them for this year’s conference is quite creative: Signed, Sealed, Delivered! Other than reminding some of us of a classic tune, it speaks beautifully of our Catholic Faith. We are Signed by the sign of the cross, Sealed by the power of the Sacraments and the Holy Spirit for our life in Christ, who Delivers us from sin to Life Eternal.
For me to be in Lucas Oil Stadium with all these youth, to watch them and experience their joy and enthusiasm for the faith, to pray with them and visit with them is a gift from God. I want our young people to truly know, you are a gift from God, and this Church welcomes you and longs to walk this journey of faith with you.
So, to this readership, please continue to pray for all the youth gathered here for this year’s NCYC. Pray that all of our youth discover this amazing love of God. Pray that our young people may believe whole heartedly that God has a plan, a mission for each of them, and that all of this is discovered in the person of Jesus Christ, in and through His Church.
We are the Church. All are welcome. The world will know us, because we are Signed, Sealed and Delivered!
I”m getting to be very familiar with the Denver airport, as I sit here once again with a snow delay. I’m headed for Indianapolis for this year’s NCYC, (National Catholic Youth Conference)where around 25,000 – 30,000 youth will gather at Lucas Oil Stadium for the next few days. I was scheduled to preside and preach at this evening’s Mass, but that will not be possible given the delay time we are now faced with. So, I’ll simply share now my thoughts on today’s feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and how it strongly relates to the lives of our youth.
I have good company here in the waiting area. There is a youth group from a parish in Colorado Springs, and a group of seminarians from Dodge City just introduced themselves. Of course, we are all headed for NCYC. I’m looking forward to joining the nearly 50 young people who left here last night from Wyoming.
Today, the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What we know about this event comes solely from the Old Testament practice dedicating firstborn males to God. (Exodus 13:12-16) At the time of Jesus, these dedications took place in the Temple. From this practice developed the tradition of bringing firstborn girls to the Temple at the time mothers came for their purification. (Leviticus 12:5-8) This practice required the woman to remain in seclusion for 80 days after giving birth, and then come to the Temple to offer a yearling lamb as a thanksgiving offering, and a pair of doves as a sin-offering.
From these early practices developed the legend that Mary was also presented in the Temple by her parents, Joachim and Ann, at the time she was three. Mary is a symbol of self-offering and dedication to God and the spiritual life.
The practice of making a gift of one’s self is central to our Christian life. Christ made a gift of Himself to all the world through the Incarnation, expressed most lovingly and completely as He offered Himself up on the cross for our redemption. Every Christian who is serious about their faith is to also make a gift of one’s self to God and to others. Our Blessed Mother gave such a gift in her free “Yes” to God’s plan to become the mother of Jesus. A mature Christian life is always lived for others, and never for self.
Just as Mary had a mission from God, so do each of us. As Mary’s mission was centered on Jesus Christ, so it is for each of us. Young people, this is your mission; a life centered on Christ and a life offered to the Other and others out of love for Christ. This mission is rooted in God’s Word, the Sacraments of the Church, and a life of charity.
Young people, let Christ accompany you in your life. He is a Friend you can always count on! As you grow in your relationship with Christ, renew each day your desire to faithfully accompany Him.
As Mary’s walk with Christ (as His first disciple) led her to stand at the foot of His cross, so our walk with Jesus will lead us to His cross. Do not be afraid of the suffering the Gospel entails. Christ will give you all you need to love Him, and He will be with you always.
Finally, young people, ask the Blessed Mary to help you know God’s mission in your life. Ask Mary to accompany you as you walk with Christ. To walk with Christ in the presence of Mary will lead to a fullness of life, and your life will indeed bear much fruit!
Thank you young people for following Christ! Our Church welcomes you and needs you!
The individuals in today’s first reading from 2 Maccabees 7: 1, 20-31 are inspiring, most especially the mother. The scene is one of persecution for the faith. As King Antiochus is forcing the Hebrews to abandon their faith for the ‘state religion’ of pagan worship, we find this mother witnessing the torture and execution of her seven sons.
Not only does she encourage them to be faithful to the Tradition during this brief moment of torture, but her words are instruction of faith in God the Creator. I could not help but think of how important the words of the Jewish Mother are for people of faith today. Hear again the words she spoke to her son before and during his time of trial.
Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage,
she exhorted each of them
in the language of their ancestors with these words:
“I do not know how you came into existence in my womb;
it was not I who gave you the breath of life,
nor was it I who set in order
the elements of which each of you is composed.
Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe
who shapes each man’s beginning,
as he brings about the origin of everything,
he, in his mercy,
will give you back both breath and life,
because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.”
Antiochus, suspecting insult in her words,
thought he was being ridiculed.
As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him,
not with mere words, but with promises on oath,
to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs:
he would make him his Friend
and entrust him with high office.
When the youth paid no attention to him at all,
the king appealed to the mother,
urging her to advise her boy to save his life.
After he had urged her for a long time,
she went through the motions of persuading her son.
In derision of the cruel tyrant,
she leaned over close to her son and said in their native language:
“Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months,
nursed you for three years, brought you up,
educated and supported you to your present age.
I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth
and see all that is in them;
then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things;
and in the same way the human race came into existence.
Do not be afraid of this executioner,
but be worthy of your brothers and accept death,
so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them.”
May God’s WORD inform us once again today of our Origin. May God’s WORD strengthen us today in faith and our resolve to live in fidelity this faith in times of trial.
Let us pray today for all those who are being persecuted for the faith, that they may remain faithful, and know the reward of the Eternal Goodness of God.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Recently, bishops around the world learned that our Holy Father, Pope Francis has called an Extraordinary Synod for next October, 2014. The theme for this gathering will be: Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization. In 2015, the Vatican will convene a follow-up assembly that will seek to develop “guidelines in the pastoral care of the person and the family.”
As a preparation for this Extraordinary Synod, a preparatory document was developed to assist local bishops in gathering input from the faithful of his diocese. I am seeking the prayerful participation of the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Cheyenne.
Many modern day experiences are explored in the survey, such as: same-sex unions, cohabitation, pastoral programs for divorced and remarried people, pastoral programs for engaged and married couples, and the marriage annulment process.
This survey is not a public opinion poll, but is intended to be a prayerful reflection and response to challenges facing family life. At the beginning of the survey instrument, faithful will find a link to the background catechesis which they are asked to read.
The online instrument will be utilized to collate all responses submitted. Individuals who are unable to answer all of the questions are asked to provide responses to as many questions as possible, especially those which are indicated in bold.
The faithful are asked to complete the survey no later than December16, 2013. Click Here To Take Survey
With gratitude for your prayerful participation, I remain,
In The Heart of Christ,
The Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne, DD, STL