I am just completing my annual retreat here in Mundelein with my brother bishops from Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. As always, the retreat gives us bishops a chance to get together, share valuable quiet time together in prayer and share valuable social time together in sincere fraternity. What a blessing this retreat has been! I give thanks to God!
You have been a part of this retreat, too. I have kept so many of you in prayer during this time; so many intentions and so many different remembrances from all over the diocese and from family and friends. A retreat is a wonderful time for us to take stock of our lives and how we stand before God. Our retreat director reminded us that it is not always us standing accused before God as He says: “What have you been up to?! But rather that we stand humbly and quietly before God and listen to Him tell us what He has been “down” to in our lives. There is a wonder in reflecting on the many miracles that occur in our lives when we recognize the nearness of God – the great condescension of God in the Incarnation.
So, I am grateful for the new priests I ordained two months ago, I am grateful for the permanent deacons I will ordain two months from now and whose retreat I will join today in Marathon. I am grateful for all the members of the Diocesan Pastoral Commission who are contributing their time and support with our priests all over the diocese. I am grateful for my diocesan staff and all those who serve in various ways the needs of the Church in La Crosse. I have prayed especially for the priests and people of our diocese and God has given me great consolation in knowing of your support.
As we say: “GOD IS GOOD!” And the favored response: “ALL THE TIME!”
And I say … I’ll see you at Sunday Mass!
As many of you know, I am from the great city of Chicago. Many folks tell me “you can take the kid out of Chicago; but you can’t take Chicago out of the kid.” I always thought that was a compliment of sorts since I really still have great fondness for my hometown.
Recently, of course, I have really found myself dodging a few remarks about Chicago’s political leaders – both local and national. The remarks and the leaders who provoke them have made me less proud to speak about the Chicago I know and love.
A few weeks ago, however, one of my personal heroes, himself a proud Chicagoan, took hold of the bully pulpit that is rightfully his and spoke to the issues better than anyone I’ve ever heard. That hero, of course, is his eminence Cardinal Francis George, the Archbishop of Chicago. I am providing you with a little of his blog from two weeks ago and encourage you to follow the link to the complete entry. He makes the point in his usual clear and concise style. It is a “teachable moment” that I am happy to share with you.
Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”
The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.” Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus. Are Americans so exceptional that we are free to define “marriage” (or other institutions we did not invent) at will? What are we re-defining?
For the rest of the Cardinal’s blog entry, follow this link:
…and I’ll see you at Sunday Mass.
As the month of August begins, we are reminded that the clock is ticking. We have one year to “update” our thinking – to reform our consciences – to change our beliefs. Basically, we have one year to become good secularists and bad Catholics, according to the federal government. In one year, Aug. 1, 2013, the accommodation offered by President Obama regarding the HHS mandates will go into place for all Catholic institutions as they went into place yesterday for everyone else including some Catholic businesses. Religious freedom – our first and most cherished liberty – is not being considered by the Administration and millions of other Americans, as an important element in this debate.
Many, including a large number of people under our own Catholic tent, seem to overlook the obvious government exclusion of the Constitution, preferring to vilify the Church because we refuse to support contraception and abortion as simple facts of life in a modern and sophisticated world. I guess they just expect us to take our old fashioned ideas about religious liberty, patriotism, and the sacred dignity of humanity, and just go curl up in the corner someplace and quietly wait for our inevitable death.
Please don’t lose sight of this unjust burden being placed on the shoulders of people of faith. It’s not about a war on women. It’s not about a contraception battle. It’s not about us verses them. This matter has been resolved. In 1776, the truths we hold and proclaim in this struggle over the mandates were declared self-evident, inalienable rights endowed upon us by our Creator. In 1789, the Constitution of the United States became the guarantor of the great American Republic, and in 1791 the Bill of Rights ensured religious freedom as the first among many of our cherished rights.
Our Catholic institutions, in particular, have stood the challenges of time and the assaults of intolerance and hatred all over the world. In this age, it is up to us to turn back an unprecedented violation of Constitutional protection and freedom. If you haven’t called your representative in Congress to make your voice heard, please do so. If you have not said the prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel at least once today, do that before you call.
. . . and I’ll see you at Sunday Mass.