Well, we have concluded our work in Baltimore at the annual Fall meeting of the Conference of Catholic Bishops. It was a full agenda involving discussions concerning our lives of faith and conversion in this Year of Faith, discussions about the economy, the support of the sacrament of marriage and our continued support for the sacredness of human life and our resolute defense of the same. I’m sure that many of you spent some time during the week checking the blogosphere and other social media links as well the regular media concerning news about the Conference. We know there were many news agencies present.

Cardinal Dolan, the President of the Conference, offered his annual address and highlighted for the assembly another invitation to a life of simple penance and conversion to Jesus as a part of the ongoing Year of Faith and as a remedy for the ever-growing challenges of secularism and relativism in our society.

Among the useful suggestions he offered was the tried and true practice of prayer and fasting. He made reference to reviving the practice of abstinence from meat on Fridays as another idea that we might consider. There is always merit in such suggestions and I will probably discuss this further with the Priests’ Council and the Diocesan Pastoral Council that meets this weekend. If any of you have some thoughts about fasting and abstinence, I would enjoy hearing from you, too.

Much ballyhoo was made in the mainstream media about our discussion about producing a faith-filled and spiritual response to current issues in the economy. The mainstream media appeared to indicate division rather than prudence having influenced our decision not to publish such a document at this time. The bishops are of one mind about leadership for our people in this and in all areas when we speak as a body. The bishops were not seeking an “easy fit” or simply saying “something” about the economy while everyone else and his/her banker was doing the same. The bishops have a responsibility to teach the faith when we speak, and our latest teachings have had great impact on the faithful because of our unity and clarity. In this matter, the old axiom: “If a man’s words are no better than silence, it behooves him to remain quiet,” seems appropriate. Perhaps the mainstream media wanted us to make some “noise” so they could make more.

The fraternity among the assembled bishops was a great sign of apostolic joy. Further, there was a reasonable understanding that issues in the recent election concerning marriage and the value of human life were, by and large, supported by Catholics who voted. This was reassuring in many respects and helped us to remember that our unified voices were not raised in vain; many Catholics listened and many acted upon what they heard. So, we press on and boldly proclaim the truth that is unchangeable and brings life to the world.

Experience Jesus at Sunday Mass. See you there!

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