I pray for you as you are suffering
At the end of August, I returned from Ireland. While there I was blessed to concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families. I am of Irish descent, born and raised for most of my life in Limerick. As I was growing up, the Catholic Church and Ireland seemed to be one. But, with the knowledge of sexual misconduct within the Church, this Catholicity was challenged and changed. So, as I processed into the Mass Sunday, Aug. 26, I was overwhelmed by the one-half million faithful who participated in this celebration. The media may never acknowledge this extraordinary number of faithful, but it struck me that those in attendance exceeded the number of registered Catholics in our Diocese of Orlando. I was humbled by the Holy Spirit filling the space of the earth, despite all the “bad news” spurred through the Irish media during the time I visited.
It is everyone’s responsibility to safeguard those around us
Some of you have asked for assurances that we are vigilant in keeping our families safe from harm. It is everyone’s responsibility to safeguard those around us. In 1995, the Diocese of Orlando created a diocesan lay review board to provide oversight to policy creation, and review situations involving allegations of sexual misconduct. Our policies are reviewed annually and updated when appropriate as we manage technology and changes.
Eucharist is center of experience of God
God asks us to reflect through the Scriptures of Aug. 19 about how we are living. Where is our focus? Are we interested in God? How do we express our interest? Where do we seek God? Do we share our knowledge of God? Are we helping each other to get to heaven? God guides us through the answers as St. Paul speaks to the Ephesians. Watch carefully how you live. Seek wisdom and be filled with the spirit. Forsake foolishness and advance in the way of understanding.
Are you hungry?
Who is hungry? This is what my mother would ask before gathering our family together for a meal. Then, she would ask us all to sit and eat as the meal is served. The Scripture for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time asks us the same question, “Who is hungry?” and through the prophet, Elisha, and St. Paul and Jesus, we receive the revelation of the gift of life: sustenance through God, for God. In these Scriptures, God feeds us, asks us to feed each other and we acknowledge our desire to be fed.
God’s blessing is one of mission
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. This blessing is one of mission; that is, the Christian’s response to God’s blessing to spread the good news, the very nature of the Church. We proclaim God’s salvation throughout his earth.
‘Humanae Vitae’: God is the Creator of all
How many of us praise God for our being? How many of us acknowledge ourselves as wonderfully made because we are of God? In the United States, we have allowed all types of media to place great emphasis on the human body, not because of its God-given dignity, but as an object of desire or of no value. Our understanding of our bodies and souls as one with God has been fragmented and perhaps we have succumbed to the thought that we are in charge, rather than living as our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.
God sustains us on earth and in heaven
St. Paul was a tentmaker by trade. His reference to a tent in this Scripture passage speaks uniquely to the Corinthians because tents were common homes for many when Jesus lived on this earth. But our earthly abode is transitory, as we know all too well from the hurricanes we have experienced in Florida. Looking upon our possessions, what is the greatest? St. Paul reminds us that no earthly thing is everlasting, but our faith in our triune God sustains us on earth and in heaven.
We are called to make disciples of all the people
In this last chapter of St. Matthew, Jesus opens the hearts of his apostles and broadens their original understanding that God’s word is for all people. He tells them to baptize the people that they may enter into the community of the risen one, the Church. He asks his apostles to teach the people that the commandments of Jesus are the standard of Christian conduct. He assures his friends that he is with them always, fulfilling the promise of Jesus’ real though invisible presence, for he was given the name at birth, Emmanuel, God with us.
May is the month of Mary
We are in the middle of the month of May and for many of us it is a month characterized by the celebration of first Communion, the excitement of high school proms, the wait for summer vacation to begin, the start of afternoon rains. May is also the “Month of Mary.” The Church honors her as the Mother of God, looks to her as a model of perfect discipleship, and asks for her prayers to God on our behalf. Many forms of piety toward the Mother of God developed that help bring us closer to her Son. In these devotionals, we remember her extraordinary fiat to bring forth God’s love on this earth through the birth of his only begotten Son, Jesus. By her fiat, she fulfills a crucial role in salvation history.
Each of us is called to holiness
Recently, Pope Francis released an apostolic exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad”). Pope Francis says that his goal of the document is to “repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks challenges and opportunities.” You and I have spoken about the call to holiness many times. We are created by God for God. Our call to holiness begins at our baptism in which we are consecrated as priest, prophet and king. The early Christians, as we hear proclaimed in Scripture, yearned for holiness and modeled their daily living through, with and in Christ. St. John reminds us that holiness, through God’s love, is not found in word or speech, but in deed and truth. Our words will be empty unless we truly believe.
How do you celebrate the living Christ?
Peace be with you. During this glorious Easter season, we experience through Scripture the formation of the early Church. The challenge for the early Christians was to remember Jesus and his word and to continue to follow him, even though he was no longer physically with them. So, in the first reading of the Third Sunday of Easter, St. Peter chastises a group of people in Jerusalem for crucifying the “author of life” in their ignorance and asks them to repent and be converted, that their sins may be wiped away. St. John also asks those who believe to keep his word because by keeping God’s word, we are in union with God and will live as Jesus lived when he was among them. In the Gospel reading of St. Luke, Jesus once again appears to the disciples and says, to their uncertain spirit, “Peace be with you.” He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
Christ nourishes us by uniting us to his body
Peace be with you this Easter season. In our spiritual reality, food plays a primary role in the story of salvation, from the forbidden fruit in the garden, which brings forth sin and death, to the food of Christ’s body on the tree of the cross that brings forth everlasting life. It is not the Eucharistic food that is changed into us, but rather we who are mysteriously transformed by it. Christ nourishes us by uniting us to his body; “He draws us into the life of the Trinity in giving us his body as our bread of life.”
How have you been a light for the nations?
It is the middle of March. In just two weeks’ time, we enter Holy Week. How have you been a light for the nations this Lenten season? Have you participated in Living the Eucharist or a Life in the Eucharist Retreat? Did you join us at the Eucharistic Congress March 16-17? Has your prayer life increased your closeness to God? Has it opened your eyes to the blindness of all the secular distractions that may impede your faith journey? Has your attention to “living without” created a greater hunger for Our Lord through the Eucharist? Have you offered yourself to God at his table and then flourished his kingdom all through the week to bring out those in confinement through parish outreach or various educational programs about mental health, human trafficking or the Long-Sleeve Relief Drive?
Lent is a time to face our weakness
During this season of Lent, our focus is on God. We seek to be like Zaccheus, turning our heart from materialism to solidarity; or like Mary Magdalene, who finds covenantal love within Jesus; or the spirit of Peter whose loyalty to Jesus wavers and yet he becomes the foundation of the Christian Church; or the love of John who takes Jesus’ mother as his own; or the openness of Mary to God’s invitation, no matter the difficulty.
‘Eucharist communicates the Lord’s love for us’
We live in God’s time of fulfillment. We are called to remain vigilant; to make holy these days as we attend to the kingdom of God across the earth. During this Jubilee Year of the 50th Anniversary of the Diocese of Orlando, we recommit ourselves to the Eucharist as the source and summit of our Christian life. We repair our relationship with others that we might set right our focus on God and ultimately yield to Christ’s summons to be Eucharist so we are as Christ to each other.