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Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love
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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.
Quiet, holy companions can lead us to our final destination
March 07, 2021
The reference to “a hidden life” is also a very apt description of the life of St. Joseph, whose feast day we will celebrate on March 19. The Bible does not record any words spoken by St. Joseph. He is identified as a carpenter, and some brief references are made in the infancy narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke about his key role at the time of the birth of Jesus, but after the Finding of Jesus in the Temple, St. Joseph is not mentioned again. The details of his life are not known. They remain hidden. We do not know when he died or how he died. Yet, St. Joseph is a mighty intercessor for those who turn to him.
Looking at prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent
February 21, 2021
Lent has begun. Jesus gave us very clear instructions for what we need to do as Christians: “Repent, and believe the Gospel.” In the Gospel we heard on Ash Wednesday, Jesus was even more specific: We are to pray, fast, and give alms. He adds that we are not to pray, fast, or give alms like hypocrites, that is, doing these practices for show, for people to see and to win their esteem. Rather, what matters is that God sees what is hidden, and he will repay us accordingly. The church gives us even more details about prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during Lent. We are given additional opportunities to go to Mass, receive holy Communion, have our sins absolved in sacramental confession, and pray the Stations of the Cross, just to name a few of the more important practices of prayer.
Let us intensify efforts, make vision of discipleship and stewardship reality
February 07, 2021
Twenty-five years ago, on the weekend on Feb. 10-11, 1996, I gave a homily on “Reforming the Reform” at St. René Goupil Church and at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, where I used to assist with weekend Masses when I was chancellor of the Archdiocese of Chicago. My words drew strong reactions pro and con at the time, so I think they are worth revisiting now.
In light of recent violence in our country, how do you answer this uncomfortable question?
January 24, 2021
Are you a follower of Christ or just an admirer of Christ? If you think that you are very good at loving your enemies and therefore are a true follower of Christ, I pose this question to you: If you voted for Joe Biden for president, can you say that you love Donald Trump and his supporters? If you voted to re-elect Donald Trump, can you say that you love Joe Biden and his supporters? The question makes people uncomfortable because we tend to equate love with a warm feeling of affection.
The morality of taking or not taking COVID-19 vaccine
January 10, 2021
Is it moral to receive a COVID-19 vaccine made with a cell line from an abortion? The short answer to that question is yes, in certain circumstances. If that qualified answer — yes, in certain circumstances — raises more questions in your mind, that’s good! Moral questions often involve a variety of factors that must be taken into consideration. I realize that not everyone is comfortable navigating these complexities, however.
‘Receive Christ in your heart.’ Spiritual communion to replace blessings
December 27, 2020
There are a variety of reasons why people do not receive holy Communion when they come to Mass. In some cases, they are children who have not yet received their confirmation and first holy Communion. Others do not receive because they are not Catholic. It could be that a person is conscious of having committed grave sin but has not yet had a chance to go to confession and receive absolution from the priest in the sacrament of penance. It might also simply be that a person has had something to eat right before Mass and hence has not observed the required one-hour fast before receiving holy Communion. Whatever the reason, it has become customary in the United States and some other countries for people to present themselves to the minister of holy Communion with their arms crossed in front of their chest to indicate that they do not want to receive holy Communion but wish to receive something else. The question is: What is it that they should expect to receive if they are not receiving holy Communion? Often they would receive a blessing. Other times they would be invited with various words to make a spiritual communion.
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