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Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love
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Confessing our sins, mortal or venial, helps us grow in holiness
July 25, 2021
As announced previously, the Catholic Bishops of the United States will be drafting a document on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church to be voted upon at our next meeting in November. An important aspect of this topic is the relationship between receiving the holy Eucharist and the sacrament of penance.
True unity comes from faith in Jesus and in sharing love as God’s children
July 11, 2021
Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. These are the buzzwords that currently dominate the scene on college campuses and in corporate America. Many universities and businesses have Offices for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Working for diversity, equity, and inclusion could be good, bad, or neutral, depending on how those terms are defined and implemented.
Pray for bishops to be guided by Holy Spirit during stormy times
June 27, 2021
There are some false narratives and misleading arguments that are being promoted with regard to the proposed USCCB document on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church. Several media outlets, for example, reported that the Vatican had warned the Catholic Bishops of the United States not to pass this proposal. That is simply false. In fact, bishops and politicians have been dialoguing about this issue for many years. Approving the drafting of a document is precisely how the dialogue will continue to move forward. One of the misleading arguments voiced by some bishops and cardinals opposed to drafting this document was that doing so would be divisive and would harm the unity of the bishops’ conference. Yes, we should strive for unity, but our unity should be based on the truths of our faith as found in Sacred Scripture and the constant Tradition of the Church.
Remaining dispensations from Mass obligation to be withdrawn June 12
June 13, 2021
In recent weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 has continued to decrease dramatically. Here in Illinois, the test positivity rate has declined to less than 2 percent, with more than half of the population fully vaccinated, and hospitalization metrics declining since early May. In light of these encouraging trends, government officials announced that the State of Illinois would enter Phase 5 beginning on June 11, which means that “businesses, large-scale events, conventions, amusement parks, and seated-spectator venues, among others, will be able to operate at full capacity for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Clearly, the full reopening of secular society means that the time has come for the Church as well to withdraw all remaining particular dispensations from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, and I have issued a decree to that effect effective on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Saturday, June 12, 2021.
Pray to safeguard Church from insidious attacks happening right now
May 30, 2021
For over 10 years now most of the parishes in our diocese have been praying the Prayer to St. Michael after Mass, invoking his intercession to “defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.” I have seen how our faithful, including many young people who otherwise appear inattentive at Mass, proclaim this prayer with enthusiasm and zeal, apparently because they recognize the battle for our souls waged by the powers of darkness and evil, seeking to pull us away from all that is good, all that is beautiful, and all that is true. This battle is not just metaphorical, but is quite real. We see it every day in the secular media and popular entertainment that send very overt messages contrary to our Christian faith. We see how legislators and government leaders are corrupted by the donations they receive from Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union to pass laws that promote abortion, introduce distorted and harmful notions of human sexuality into the school curriculum, and turn the true meaning of marriage and family life on its head.
Bishop’s parish visits to resume in the fall
May 16, 2021
The front cover of the last issue of Catholic Times heralded the headline, “Confirmations and first holy Communions to take place at Cathedral.” Unfortunately, judging from the letters, emails, and phone calls to my office expressing concerns about moving the celebration of the sacraments of confirmation and first Eucharist to the Cathedral, it appears that some people have misunderstood the reasons and the implications for this change. Please know that it is my earnest wish and pastoral desire to stay as close as possible to the people of our diocese through the grace-filled opportunities this change will bring both in our parishes and in our Cathedral, the Mother Church of our diocese.
Looking at change in approach to initiation of young people into Catholic faith
May 02, 2021
I wish to inform you of an important and exciting change in our approach to the initiation of our young people into the Catholic faith. One of the prominent changes called for in our Fourth Diocesan Synod in 2017 was the restoration of the original sequence of the sacraments of initiation, returning first holy Eucharist to its proper place as the pinnacle of Christian initiation, with confirmation taking place prior to first Communion. In our diocese, we are now celebrating both sacraments in the same Mass, at the ordinary age of third grade. We have seen the enthusiasm with which our children are embracing this approach, and I am confident we will see the graces of these sacraments bearing fruit for many years to come. Beginning in July 2021, we will celebrate confirmation and first holy Communion Masses at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, instead of at parishes, except when I come to a parish for an official pastoral visitation, which will occur approximately once every five years.
Here’s why priests are moved from parish to parish, go where they are needed
April 18, 2021
This issue of Catholic Times includes the listing of Official Appointments, most of which will be effective on July 1. These announcements of clergy transfers often bring questions from parishioners about why their beloved priest is being reassigned to another parish. Their departure brings with it a sense of separation along with anxiety about what the new priest will be like. There are a variety of answers to these questions on a number of levels.
Hearing and answering Our Lord’s clear call to repentance
April 04, 2021
Our celebration of Our Lord’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday is a reminder that all of us will one day rise from the dead. This is an essential element of our faith, as we profess on Sundays and holy days in the Creed: “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” To whom does this “resurrection of the dead” refer? Jesus taught that “all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). Contrary to what the church has taught through most of her history, in recent years some theologians have suggested that no one is in Hell, but everyone will go to Heaven. Our Lord’s reference to “the resurrection of condemnation” indicates rather clearly that not everyone will go to “the resurrection of life,” but only “those who have done good deeds.”
General dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass ends April 11
March 21, 2021
Last year on March 14, 2020, as we began dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, I issued a dispensation for all Catholics within the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice. For the next two months, Masses were celebrated without a congregation present, while many people participated in Sunday Mass by watching via livestream video broadcast and making a spiritual Communion. As people began returning to attending Mass in person last May, I said that the dispensation would remain in place for an indefinite period of time, even after we began the re-opening, until there would be greater clarity and confidence that the overall risk associated with the virus is diminished. That time has now come, as the COVID vaccine has been more widely administered and the number of cases has substantially diminished in recent weeks.
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