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Comment & Dialogue
Word and Worship
Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love
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Pope: ‘. . . the family throughout the world is in crisis’
May 01, 2016
There have been various reactions to the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of His Holiness Pope Francis on Love in the Family, Amoris Laetitia, since it was released on April 8. Some praise it, some do not. Some find it helpful, others less so. Most everyone finds it to be very long, which means they will probably not read it, at least not in its entirety. I very quickly read the advance copy I received the night before it was released so I could talk about it intelligently in the television interviews I would have the next day. I offer these observations in keeping with my duty as diocesan bishop “to present and explain to the faithful the truths of the faith which are to be believed and applied to moral issues” (canon 386). I hope they are helpful.
I pray that you support and understand your priest
April 17, 2016
This issue of Catholic Times contains a list of official appointments transferring or assigning priests to new assignments. Some of these involve priests being given responsibilities at two or three parishes, while others have duties in the offices of our Catholic Pastoral Center or as chaplains at high schools, universities or prisons, in addition to parish responsibilities. I am very grateful to our priests for their generous willingness to accept these various pastoral ministries in response to the call they have received from me as their bishop.
Look to the future with hope, beyond failure, pain and disappointment
April 03, 2016
At times, we may be inclined to cry out, as Jesus did from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46). We may feel that way whenever we experience something bad in our personal lives, such as sickness or the death of a loved one, or in society, such as terrorist attacks or abortion or the attempt to redefine marriage legally. Why does God let such evils occur? We may feel forsaken and indeed cry out, “My God my God, why have you abandoned me?” So how do we get from feeling abandoned by God to expressions of praise for God’s goodness?
Building the Catholic Church locally, worldwide
March 20, 2016
It is good to see the Catholic Church growing in our diocese and throughout the world, but there is still a great potential for bringing more people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. In my pastoral letter on building a culture of growth in the church, I said that we must do four things to build a vibrant community of saints. The verbs in these four action items correspond to the four pillars of Stewardship and Discipleship that we have begun talking about in our diocese: hospitality, formation, prayer and service. I will be discussing these four pillars of Stewardship and Discipleship more extensively in parish visitations in the months and years ahead.
Pray for Father Peter Harman as he assumes new role in Rome
March 06, 2016
I was in Rome the last week in February for the installation of Father Peter Harman as the new rector of the Pontifical North American College. Father Harman is a priest of our diocese from the former parish of St. John the Baptist in Quincy where he was born in 1973. He attended Quincy Notre Dame High School and completed philosophical studies in preparation for the priesthood at Saint Meinrad College Seminary in Indiana. He finished his seminary formation at the Pontifical North American College and received a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Alphonsian Academy of Moral Theology at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. Father Harman was ordained a priest in 1999 and served as Parochial Vicar at the Cathedral and at St. Agnes Parish in Springfield before earning his Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Catholic University of America. The topic of his dissertation was Towards a Theology of Suffering: The Contribution of Karol Wojtyła/Pope John Paul II. He then returned to central Illinois as pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for another five years before returning to the Pontifical North American College in 2013 as Director of Pastoral Formation, Formation Adviser, and Director of Media Relations. Thanks to the convenience of modern communications technology and e-mail, he has continued to assist me and our Catholic Conference of Illinois as a research theologian, particularly in the area of Catholic moral theology and bioethics.
Make mercy a concrete reality in your life
February 21, 2016
Our Lenten season has begun. In the Old Testament reading at Mass on Ash Wednesday, the Prophet Joel reminded the people to “return to the Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is He.” Then, in the Responsorial Psalm we joined King David’s plea for God’s mercy from Psalm 51 as we proclaimed, “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” In these 40 days of Lent, as we see more clearly the high ethical ideals and moral demands of discipleship, we come to realize our total dependence on God’s grace and our profound need of salvation.
Destination wedding sounds romantic, but not very Catholic
February 07, 2016
Recently on the radio I heard a commercial advertisement by a travel agency promoting the attractions of having a "destination wedding." One website promoting their staff as "destination wedding experts" tries to entice brides and grooms to say their vows "in a beautiful destination far away" and invites them to imagine "the waves lapping the shore behind you as you stare into the eyes of your beloved. You're surrounded by family and friends who have spent beautiful days together relaxing in paradise." Well, they have probably also spent a lot of money to get there!
Changing hearts and minds, not just changing the law
January 24, 2016
After 43 years of legalized abortion in the United States following the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade on Jan. 22, 1973, those who are involved in the pro-life movement might feel discouraged that greater progress has not been made to outlaw the killing of unborn babies, but we should not relent in these efforts to protect all human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Even when the law has not been changed, it is important to remember that moving from a culture of death to a culture of life involves changing hearts and minds, not just changing the law.
Considering Catholic teaching/discipline about burial practice
January 10, 2016
Death and funerals are not topics that people tend to talk about very often, unless you happen to be talking to a funeral director and our diocesan director for Property, Buildings and Cemeteries, as I happened to be doing recently. Our conversation centered on the increasingly unusual requests people are making regarding funeral plans. Not too long ago, it was common practice for family members of a deceased Catholic to arrange for a wake at a local funeral home, a funeral Mass in church and burial in a Catholic cemetery. Unfortunately, that is not always the case any longer.
How to live this Year of Mercy
December 27, 2015
This Year of Mercy that just began this past Dec. 8 is an opportunity for us to have a renewed encounter with God’s love for us, an encounter which awakens us to our constant need for conversion, casting off those burdens which slow us down on that journey leading to eternal life. This prospect of undergoing a life-altering change due to our encounter with God’s mercy should stir in our hearts a feeling of excitement and hope. We might ask how we should live this Year of Mercy in order to draw from the rich blessings that flow so abundantly from “God’s merciful heart made accessible through the open side of Christ on the cross” (cf. Jn 19:34).
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