Archbishop's column

Before the Cross - Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's Column

'Before The Cross' by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson. Archbishop Carlson is the ninth Archbishop of Saint Louis. Listed below are the most recent columns written by Archbishop Carlson; click on the title to read the column. The Archdiocesan website has more information about Archbishop Robert J. Carlson.

Sharing our gifts

Introduction

The Easter Season calls to mind the many and wonderful ways in which our risen Lord is alive for us in the Church.We think of the holy Eucharist, most of all, for it contains the entire good of our redemption (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, n. 5).By the holy Eucharist, Christ makes present for us always His sacrifice on Calvary.We think, too, of the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation which our Lord instituted on Easter night when He appeared to the Apostles (cf. Jn 20:23).We think of the transformation of all created things, now destined to become "a new heaven and a new earth," which Christ has inaugurated by His Resurrection and will bring to fullness at His Second Coming (cf. 2 Pt 3:13; and Rv 21:1).

Easter reminds us of the true destiny of all created goods.They are entrusted into our hands for the good of all, to serve God the Father’s plan for our salvation. God the Father is the source of every good and sustains every good in being for our salvation and the salvation of the world. Easter renews within us our commitment to share our gifts for the sake of others, especially those most in need.Recall the inspired words of St. Peter: "As generous distributors of God’s manifold grace, put your gifts at the service of one another, each in the measure he has received" (1 Pt 4:10).The all-merciful love of God for us is also the source of our inspiration and strength to be the heralds and instruments of God’s mercy in the world.

Archdiocesan Development Appeal

The Archdiocesan Development Appeal is a most effective means of putting our gifts at the service of others.It is an act of stewardship, in which all of the faithful of the archdiocese have a part, "each in the measure he has received" (1 Pt 4:10).Rightly, it is conducted during the Easter season when we are reflecting upon God’s manifold gifts and our right stewardship of them.

The 2004 Archdiocesan Development Appeal begins on this coming weekend. In the coming days, your pastor and your parish leadership for the appeal will be in communication with you to seek your participation.It is essential that all the faithful be invited to practice Christian stewardship through participation in the Archdiocesan Development Appeal.The appeal is an effective means for us all to use our gifts to sustain and develop the life of the Church in the archdiocese. Many apostolates and other works of the archdiocese depend upon the Archdiocesan Development Appeal for their necessary financial support.At the same time, there is so much more that the Church in the archdiocese needs to do in carrying out the mission of Christ in the world.Without a generous response to the Archdiocesan Development Appeal, we, the faithful of the archdiocese, will not be able to help our brothers and sisters as we have been doing and desire to do more effectively.For these reasons, I urge you to respond generously, when you are asked to share your gifts through the appeal.

Last Year’s Appeal

For decades, the goal of the Archdiocesan Development Appeal has been reached or surpassed.But, over the last several years,the number of donations, that is, the number of those making pledges, had been declining.Last year, thank God,the trend was reversed.Our faithful longtime contributors continued to make sacrificial gifts through the 2003 appeal, but more of the faithful made pledges than in the prior year. It is important and especially heartening to note that more young families joined the appeal last year and made gifts for the first time.Also, more of the contributors joined the ranks of the Associates of the Archbishop at the $1,000 level and above, recognizing the increasing needs of the Church.

Our priests and religious also gave to the appeal in goodly numbers. Archdiocesan employees and businesses which provide services to the archdiocese participated generously in the appeal, as well. What is more, companies which employ Catholics throughout the archdiocese made matching gifts at record levels.The support for the 2003 Archdiocesan Development Appeal was truly extensive and came from a variety of sources.

My study of last year’s response of the faithful to the Archdiocesan Development Appeal gives me much hope for a generous sharing of our gifts through this year’s appeal. What most gives me hope for this year’s appeal is the participation of more and more of the faithful of the archdiocese.

The tradition of generous support of the Church by the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis is unmatched in the United States. The stewardship of the faithful of the archdiocese manifests a deep Catholic faith and a consistent witness to the faith in practice.It shows your solidarity with and support of the Church’s charitable, educational and missionary works.

As we begin the appeal in our parishes, we pray for God’s blessings on our efforts.The beginning of the appeal is also an annual occasion for us to reflect upon the essential part of stewardship in our Christian life.

Christian Stewardship

What does God ask of us as the stewards of His manifold gifts?He, first of all, asks us to be humble, that is to acknowledge Him as the source of all our good gifts.Humility is a virtue at the foundation of the Christian life and, therefore, at the foundation of Christian stewardship.

God’s first gift to us is life itself.With life, He gives us our distinctive personal gifts, and places at our disposal the goods of creation.All that we are and have is God’s gift to us, but we can become forgetful and begin to think that our life is completely our own and our doing.The practice of humility is an antidote to such forgetfulness and false pride on our part.St. Paul in his First Letter to Timothy cautions us to remember that "we brought nothing into this world, nor have we the power to take anything out" and, therefore, we should use God’s gifts to us, not to become rich in material goods for ourselves but to become "rich in good works and generous, sharing what [we] have" (1Tm 6:7 and 18).

Secondly, recognizing, in humility, God as the source of our very being and of our every good gift, we acknowledge that all of our talents and possessions are given to us by God to provide for our own needs and to share from our substance to help brothers and sisters who lack essential goods.St. Paul reminds us: "God can multiply his favors among you so that you may always have enough of everything and even a surplus for good works, ..." (2 Cor 9:8).

As stewards of God’s manifold gifts, we have three kinds of goods to share with others for the common good.First of all, there is our personal time, the sharing of the gift of life.Then, there is the sharing of the talents with which God has endowed us.Lastly, there is the sharing of our treasure, the material goods which God has placed into our hands.

Our personal goods, as also the goods of our family, our nation and the world, are not our possessions to be hoarded or used selfishly.Rather, they are a sacred trust which God has given to our care for the good of all, both for now and for the generations to come.

God Himself has set the example for us in the sending of His only-begotten Son as our Redeemer.God did not spare His only Son, but, for love of us, gave Him up to death (cf. Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32;1 Jn 4:9).We are called to imitate God in His universal charity, giving ourselves for the good of others, even when it hurts.We are called to unite our hearts with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and, after His Heart, to pour out our lives in love.The Easter season is a time to celebrate the universal charity of God and our call to imitate God’s love, to be "made perfect as [our] heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48).

God calls us to live in His Son, to live as Christ did and to sacrifice as He did.We are called, in the words of Jesus Himself,to love one another as I love you (cf. Jn 15:12). The Archdiocesan Development Appeal is a fundamental means of imitating Christ and following His commandment of love.

Details about the Appeal

The information about the Archdiocesan Development Appeal, which was mailed to you, and the information supplied at your parish provide the details on the breadth of the apostolates and services which are supported by the appeal. The informational literature describes how your gifts will be used to support schools, parishes, works of charity and other services throughout the archdiocese.

Please review the literature sent to you and please view the video for this year’s appeal, if it is shown in your parish.Then, I ask you to consider prayerfully your gift for this year’s appeal.If it is possible, I ask you to increase the amount of your gift for this year, that the archdiocese can carry out more fully the mission of Christ in the world.

Beneficiaries of the Appeal

Your gift to the appeal helps the homeless, those suffering from injustice, those living in fear and hopelessness, those in prison and the victims of crime. It also will come to the aid of students seeking a Catholic education in our schools, and of young and old who hunger for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The pledge you make will help to ensure that our seminarians receive the education and formation necessary to be good and faithful shepherds of the flock, the future priests of the archdiocese.The appeal provides for the care of our priests in retirement.Through the generous sharing of your gifts, immigrants and refugees will find a home in the heart of the Church, and young couples preparing for marriage will receive the instruction and help which they will need to form happy and healthy homes. Your gift will protect the innocent and defenseless unborn from the attacks of a culture of violence and death.

The above describes only a part of the works which the Archdiocesan Development Appeal supports.Your participation in the 2004 appeal will make it possible for the archdiocese to continue and increase its service to the whole Church.Through your pledge, you become a part of all of these good works.

Conclusion

I conclude with a brief reflection upon the life of St. Louis IX (1214-1270), king of France, who is the patron saint of our city and of the archdiocese.As I noted in the homily for the Mass during which I was installed as Archbishop,St. Louis had a custom of inviting the poor and the suffering into his house to be fed.In fact, he himself often served his guests.The king also was known for his generous gifts to widows and prostitutes who were outcasts from the society of the time.He built homes and hospitals for the blind and the sick.A great benefactor of education, he founded many schools, including the Faculty of Theology at the great University of Paris, known popularly as the Sorbonne.

Let us pray to St. Louis, our great mentor in holiness of life and our intercessor before the throne of God.May he who devoted his energy and his resources to assist the poor, the outcast, the sick and those suffering injustice help us to renew our commitment to serve others as he did.

Finally, I offer heartfelt thanks to all of the many volunteers who have worked for many weeks already in preparing for the 2004 Archdiocesan Development Appeal which we are beginning in these days.It is through the guidance of our deans, parish priests and lay leaders that this wonderful work of stewardship is made possible.

The staff of the Archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and the staff of the Archdiocesan Development Appeal office give themselves tirelessly to the work of the appeal. I am deeply grateful to these servants of the Church.I also gratefully recognize the generous leadership of our Archdiocesan Development Appeal Council, especially the chairman of the 2004 appeal, Mark Gietl, and of our vicars general, Bishop Robert Hermann, Msgr. Vernon Gardin and Msgr. Richard Stika.

Please share your gifts with your brothers and sisters of the archdiocese and far beyond through a generous pledge to the Archdiocesan Development Appeal.St. Paul teaches us that "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7).May God love you and return a hundredfold your generous support of the Archdiocesan Development Appeal.

The Holy Land

Introduction

So great is the mystery of the Redemption that we celebrate the Solemnity of the Resurrection for eight days, what we call in the Church an octave, from Easter Sunday to Divine Mercy Sunday.After the completion of the Octave of Easter, the Easter Season continues through Pentecost Sunday. On Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after Easter, we celebrate the completion of the work of our Redeemer with the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Church.

Our Risen Lord poured forth a first gift of the Holy Spirit upon the Church at His Resurrection.Through the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit, His disciples, the members of the Church, received the gift of faith in the Resurrection, of Christ’s living presence in the Church.With the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit, an increase and strengthening of the first outpouring, the Apostles and disciples received the grace to go forth to every nation, in order to hand on the teaching of Christ and His Sacraments.

Our whole Christian life is paschal.It has its origin in the Paschal Mystery, Christ’s suffering, dying and rising from the dead.The Holy Eucharist, the highest expression of our Christian life, is the Paschal Mystery made present anew to us, and to faithful of every time and place.Our daily living is a participation in the dying to sin in order that we, with Christ, may live for God and for one another.From Christ’s work of the Redemption — His Passion, death and Resurrection; His Ascension; and the sending of the Holy Spirit — we receive the grace to live in Him, to share in His vocation and mission, to be co-workers of God the Father in the work of our salvation and the salvation of the world.

The mystery of the Redemption, the Paschal Mystery, is indeed great.It is beyond all our imagining.Each year, as we celebrate Holy Week and Easter, we strive to deepen our understanding of all that Christ has done for us and continues to do for us in the Church.What is more, we strive to respond more generously to the Holy Spirit whom He has poured forth into our souls, as the fruit of His redemptive work.We strive to become more like Christ.

The Holy Land

An important aspect of our deepening understanding of the Paschal Mystery is our profound regard for the places in which Christ carried out the work of our Redemption.The events by which we have been saved from sin and everlasting death are historical. They took place in time and in space.Our Savior walked the land of what today is Israel and what we, as Christians, call the Holy Land. He employed the gifts of nature about Him to teach the Gospel and to work miracles.He took His nourishment from the fruits of the land.His tears of sorrow drenched the land, and His Blood was poured out upon it.

Rightly, we have an obligation, and indeed a natural desire, to honor the holy places, the places of Christ’s conception, His birth, His hidden life, His public ministry, His Passion, death and Resurrection.St. Francis of Assisi manifests, in an exemplary way, the devotion to the sacred places of our Lord.It is fitting that his spiritual sons, the Friars Minor, remain, under the authority and with the support of our Holy Father, the custodians of the holy places for us all.With the spiritual genius which was his, St. Francis of Assisi also devised ways for us to go on mystical pilgrimage to the Holy Land, when we are not able to travel to the holy places.I refer to practice of the Christmas Crib and the Stations of the Cross.

Each year, on Good Friday, we take up a special collection to support the apostolate of the sacred places of the Holy Land.Also, many contribute to the custody of the Holy Land, which the Holy Fathers have placed into the care of the Friars Minor, popularly known as the Franciscan Fathers and Brothers; and to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.The Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, under the patronage of our Holy Father, of which there is a strong representation in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, is devoted, in a special way, to the places made holy by our Lord.

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

It is easy to understand why, for Christians, the first goal of pilgrimage is the Holy Land.Of all the places to which we may journey to grow in faith and devotion, none can compare to the places made sacred by our Lord Himself.All other places of pilgrimage point to Jerusalem as the first and best place of pilgrimage.The goal of our life pilgrimage is the New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of Heaven which the city of Jerusalem symbolizes for us.Christ passed from life to death to eternal life in Jerusalem, on Mount Calvary.Our life in Him, our life in the Church, is destined for the same passage from life to death to eternal life in the New Jerusalem, which is Kingdom of Heaven.

St. Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, is our model of the pilgrim to the Holy Land. St. Helen came to know Christ late in life, when she was about 63 years of age.She loved Christ so much that she gave herself wholeheartedly to deepening her knowledge of the Catholic faith and strengthening her witness to Christ. She was determined "to make up for lost time," so to speak.

We can only imagine her deep desire to make pilgrimage to the places made holy by our Lord’s presence and the joy of her first pilgrimage to the Holy Land.St. Helen became so devoted to the sacred places of our Lord that she led the work of building fitting churches and shrines at Calvary, the place of our Lord’s Burial, and other sacred places.She also worked diligently to find the cross of Christ and other sacred relics. St. Ambrose, in telling of St. Helen’s finding of the true cross, tells us that she "worshiped not the wood, but the King, Him who hung on the wood.She burned with an earnest desire of touching the guarantee of immortality" (Quoted in Butler’s Lives of the Saints, 1956 edition, Vol. 3, p. 347).

St. Helen teaches us the importance of pilgrimage in our Christian life, for it helps us to remain closely united to our Lord by leaving our familiar surroundings and traveling to holy places.She shows the goal of every pilgrimage, more fervent love of Christ and union with Christ through prayer.

Christians in the Holy Land

For some years now, especially since the Palestinian uprising (intifada) in September of 2000, it has become most difficult to make pilgrimage to the Holy Land.The constant tension between the state of Israel and the Palestinian inhabitants, of which some are Christians who trace their faith back to the first Christian centuries, has made it unsafe for pilgrims to make their way to the holy places.No doubt, you have read in the newspaper about the small number of pilgrims to Jerusalem, to the churches and shrines of our Lord’s Passion, death and Resurrection, during the days of Holy Week and on Easter Sunday.

So difficult has the situation become that more and more Christian Palestinians have left the Holy Land, the land of their ancestors, the land of their Lord and Savior.Recently, I was visited by member of a Palestinian Christian family, natives of Bethlehem.The family has, for a long time, made its livelihood by the selling of sacred objects carved in olive wood from the Holy Land.With the absence of pilgrims, the family has brought their work to the United States, in order that their craft may survive and they can provide for their essential needs. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, has written a letter of introduction for the family to assist them and the craftsmen who make the sacred objects in Bethlehem.You may be meeting some of the members of the family in the coming months in your parish.

Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II has repeatedly called for an end to the daily violence which marks the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land.He has underlined the need to create civil structures which respect both peoples who have lived in the Holy Land for centuries and have the right to continue to live there. His call has always reflected both the deepest respect for our Jewish brothers and sisters, with whom we have the closest bonds through our Catholic faith, and for our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, many of whom are Palestinian.

The Wall of Separation

More than a year ago, the Israeli government began to construct a wall of cement and razor wire to separate the Palestinians from the rest of the population.The city of Bethlehem has been divided by the wall. When it is completed, it will separate Israel from the West Bank.The wall, hideous in physical appearance, has a profoundly negative influence on all aspects of life for Palestinians.It is most difficult for them to pass through the wall to have access to places which are important to them.For instance, Palestinian Christians cannot travel to Jerusalem during the holy days on pilgrimage.Also, it becomes practically impossible to have access to services which are only available beyond the wall.

While the Israeli government maintains that the wall is necessary to protect the Israeli people from Palestinian terrorist activity, the Palestinians see it as an attempt to make permanent the Israeli occupation of their land and to drive out the few Palestinian families who remain in the Holy Land. What is clear is that the wall is only increasing the lack of respect between the Jewish people and the Palestinian people, and furthering the injustices which must come to an end, if there is to be peace in the land made holy by the Prince of Peace.

There is no justification for the terrorist activity on the part of Palestinians.At the same time, there is no justification for the building of a wall of separation between peoples of the same land, which leaves the people on one side of the wall in a situation of military occupation, unable to carry out their work and to have access to certain necessities of life.Hedy Epstein, a survivor of the Holocaust and member of the Jewish community in St. Louis, has written eloquently about the situation which she witnessed first hand.I refer to her article published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Feb. 17 of this year. In the article, she wrote, in part:

"It is impossible to visit Israel these days without being aware of the constant threat posed by terrorists.Suicide bombs kill and maim innocent persons riding in buses or taking a meal in a restaurant.We Jews who survived the Shoah know all too well that the intentional targeting of civilians is illegal and immoral.So I grieve the loss of life in Jerusalem from the suicide bombs.

"But I also grieve the loss of life in Palestine, which occurs almost on a daily basis.So I went to Palestine as a member of the International Solidarity Movement to observe the difficult conditions of daily life under military occupation.It would have been enough to reach out and touch just one Palestinian and place my hand on her shoulder and tell her that I was with her in her pain.But I saw and did much more" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Feb. 17, 2004, p. B7).

As Christians, we cannot remain indifferent to the situation in the Holy Land.We must join our Jewish and Palestinian brothers and sisters in praying and working for peace.Our Jewish sister, Hedy Epstein, is an inspiration to us all.

Conclusion

Our profound regard for and devotion to the holy places of our Lord demands that we do all that we can to promote peace, the divine gift which Christ has won for us by His suffering, dying and rising from the dead. Our Holy Father asked us at the beginning of the Year of the Rosary, in his Apostolic Letter "On the Most Holy Rosary," Rosarium Virginis Mariae, to pray the rosary daily for peace and for the family (cf. n. 6).I ask you to include in your praying of the rosary, daily if possible, the intention of peace in the Holy Land.

Let us also take the care in our homes and parishes to learn more fully the situation of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, Jewish and Palestinian.Let us urge our own government to foster the path of peace in the places so sacred to us and to our brothers and sisters of the Jewish and Islamic faiths.

Our most traditional Easter greeting is "The Lord indeed is risen. Alleluia. — Surrexit Dominus vere.Alleluia." Christ has indeed won the victory over sin and death.Let us trust that, through our Christian prayer and witness, Christ will bring peace to the Holy Land. We confide our prayers and work to the intercession and protection of the Mother of God, under her title "Queen of Palestine."

Days of Divine Mercy

Introduction

With the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, we conclude the 40 days of our Lenten observance and enter into the sacred Triduum — Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday — for which our whole Lenten observance has been preparing us.On Good Friday, a day of fast and abstinence, we begin the paschal fast which extends until after the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.It is our way of watching at the tomb of Christ, remembering His burial and His descent into hell (not hell, the place of eternal punishment,but the dwelling place of the souls of the just who were awaiting Christ’s coming and His saving death and Resurrection). With the first Mass of Easter, the fourth and last part of the Easter Vigil, we begin the Easter season, 50 days during which we celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead, by which He won for us the victory over sin and sin’s most evil fruit, everlasting death.

In a certain sense, our Lenten observance never ends.Lent is an annual training by which we strengthen ourselves in daily ways of thinking, speaking and acting, which are true to the mind and heart of Christ.The virtues which we have developed through Lenten prayer, fasting and almsgiving are to remain habits of life. In other words, the Risen Christ, to whom we have been drawing ever closer through Lenten penance, is the source of our lasting joy as we celebrate His resurrection.By our Lenten observance, we have welcomed Christ more fully into our lives, we have permitted the grace of Christ to penetrate ever more deeply every aspect of our lives.And now we celebrate His resurrection, which has made it possible for Christ to dwell with us always through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Easter, Ascension and Pentecost

The celebration of the Lord’s resurrection comprises three events: His resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday; His ascension to the right hand of the Father 40 days after Easter; and the sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, on the 10th day after the Ascension or the 50th day after Easter.The three events are distinct, but they are all integral to the one work of our redemption because they mark the actions by which Christ brought the Church, His mystical Body, to life.They are the events by which Christ has continued and continues to give His life for us, the Church.

At the resurrection of Christ, God the Father poured forth a first gift of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of His only-begotten Son. We see the work of the Holy Spirit in the disciples who encounter the Risen Lord in that privileged 40 days of His appearances to them in His glorious body after the Resurrection.But the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit looked for completion, a second gift of the Holy Spirit, enabling the disciples to bring Christ to the whole world. Once Christ had ascended to the right hand of the Father and the disciples had completed a novena (nine days) of prayer for the new gift of the Holy Spirit, God the Father poured out the second gift of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples.The Pentecost gift of the Holy Spirit transformed the disciples.With the Easter gift of the Holy Spirit, they had come to faith in the Risen Christ and to life in the Church, but they were timid and fearful about proclaiming faith in Christ to others and bringing the life of the Church to others.

Once they had received the second gift of the Holy Spirit, they were bold and courageous in announcing the faith to all.By the grace of the Pentecost outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the first disciples went out into the whole world to preach the truth of Christ and to bring the love of Christ to all the world, especially through the sacraments.It is clear how the Resurrection, the Ascension and the Descent of the Holy Spirit are inextricably related to one another, as three moments in Christ’s one work of redemption.

Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist

Reflection on the three events of the Resurrection helps us to understand our own life in Christ.Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father, has, with God the Father, poured out the Holy Spirit upon us for the first time at our baptism.Baptism is our personal Easter.The first outpouring of the Holy Spirit, through the cleansing and life-giving waters of Baptism, washed away the stain of original sin from our souls and brought our souls to life in Christ, in the Church, His Mystical Body.Through baptism, God the Father has chosen us as His true sons and daughters in Christ, His only Son.

The first outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our lives at baptism is completed by a second outpouring at confirmation, strengthening and increasing God’s life within us, so that we may not only have faith in Christ but also proclaim faith in Christ to the whole world.Confirmation is our personal Pentecost.From the moment of our confirmation, we are to witness to Christ before others.We draw upon the grace of the Holy Spirit each day to be faithful to Christ, to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us, so that in everything we think and say and do we will be true to our identity as sons and daughters of God.

The life of the Holy Spirit within us, through Baptism and Confirmation, is healed and nourished through the holy Eucharist, Christ’s true Body and Blood given to us as heavenly medicine and food.

With our First Holy Communion, we enjoy the greatest gift which God gives to us in the Church, the gift of His Son’s very life, first given up for us on the cross at Calvary.So essential is the holy Eucharist to our life in Christ that Christ instituted this sacrament on the night before He died, so that the gift of eternal life which He was to win for us by dying on the cross and rising from the dead would be ours always in the Church.Those who have come alive in Christ through baptism and are Christ’s witnesses in the world through confirmation desire to be in Christ’s company and to have full communion with Christ. Christ comes to us in holy Communion to be received into our inmost being. Christ accompanies and leads us on our life-pilgrimage, especially through participation in the holy Eucharist.That is why participation in Sunday Mass is a solemn obligation for us, under pain of mortal sin. That is also why many in the Church participate in Mass daily or several times a week in addition to Sunday Mass. By an act of spiritual communion, we express our desire for Christ, even when we are unable to receive Him in holy
Communion.

During the Easter season, let us return often in prayer to our baptism, confirmation and First Holy Communion, remembering their source in Christ risen from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and sending forth the Holy Spirit. Let us recognize how Christ lives within us through the sacraments. Let us thank God and ask God for the grace to live ever more fully in Christ, faithful to the grace given to us in the sacraments.

Vocation and Vocations

Called to life in Christ, we are sent to bring Christ to the world.By baptism and confirmation, we all share the same vocation and mission.Christ’s life within us, first given through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at baptism and then increased and strengthened through the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit at confirmation, develops even as we develop physically. When we come to adulthood, physically and spiritually, God asks us to give definitive and stable form to our Christian vocation in what we also call our vocation, in a second sense.Christ alive within us leads us to respond to God’s call to make the gift of our whole life, in love of Him and of neighbor, in the married life, the dedicated single life, the consecrated life or the priesthood.These are the different vocations of those who share the one Christian vocation.

As we grow spiritually, we begin already to hear God’s call, which He makes clear to us through prayer and through various everyday signs, for instance our attraction to the vocation and our natural gifts for meeting the demands of the vocation, and the counsel of our parents and parish priest regarding God’s plan for us. The grace of baptism and confirmation, by which we have received our Christian vocation, most of all, enlightens and strengthens us to know God’s special plan, our vocation, and to respond to God’s call with all our heart.

We are baptized and confirmed for our salvation, and our salvation is found ultimately in living out our vocation in life. There is nothing in the world which can substitute for the giving of our whole life, in response to God’s call, either in the married life, the dedicated single life, the consecrated life or the priesthood.Christ’s life within us is destined for the full and selfless gift of love which is the fruit of accepting our vocation in life. We will never be truly happy in life until we have come to know and embrace fully our vocation.

The Easter Season, therefore, is a most fitting time to speak with our children and young people about our Christian vocation and their vocation, God’s special plan for them.It is especially important to remind them to be ready to hear God’s call to the consecrated life or priesthood.In our highly secularized society which places so much emphasis on personal comfort, convenience and satisfaction, it is difficult for young men and women to hear God’s call to give their lives completely to God and the service of us all in the Church.Yet, we know that God is calling a sufficient number of young men and women to the consecrated life and the priesthood for the sake of His holy people.

The Easter season would be a wonderful time to visit Kenrick-Glennon Seminary or a convent. Also, encourage young men and women to take part in the various programs of the archdiocese and of religious communities which assist them in knowing God’s plan for them.Through these programs, young men and women are helped to consider God’s call in their lives and to speak about their vocation with young priests and seminarians, and young religious sisters and young aspirants to the religious life.

Conclusion

God is indeed infinitely rich in His mercy toward us.The events of our salvation which we recall and celebrate during the sacred Triduum and the Easter season manifest God’s immeasurable love for us, pardoning our sins and pouring forth the gift of His life for us.His call to us, our vocation, is a singular manifestation of His all-merciful love in each of our lives.

Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has designated the Sunday after Easter Sunday (the conclusion of the Easter Octave) Divine Mercy Sunday.We begin a novena in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday on Good Friday, the day on which God showed the depth of His love for us by dying for us upon the cross.Divine Mercy Sunday is inspired by the life and devotion of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland.The record of the messages which she received from our Lord is her diary, published by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception at Stockbridge, Mass., the site of the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy.The diary recounts revelations from our Lord to St. Faustina, all directed to increasing faith in the Divine Mercy and fostering worship of God in the mystery of His Divine Mercy.From the very beginning of the revelations, Christ asks that the words "Jesus, I trust in You" be inscribed on His image as the revelation of Divine Mercy.He also asked for the praying of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 p.m., the hour of His death on Calvary, each day.

May our celebration of the sacred Triduum and the Easter season lead us to know more deeply the mystery of the Divine Mercy in our lives and to pray with ever greater fervor: "Jesus, I trust in You."

Abp. Burke’s Schedule

The following are among Archbishop Burke’s commitments for the next week:

Friday, April 9

Passion Liturgy

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis 3 p.m.

Saturday, April 10

Easter Vigil

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis 9 p.m.

Sunday, April 11

Easter Morning Mass

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis 10 a.m.

Tuesday, April 13

Annual Mass for Catholic Charities

followed by lunch

St. Alphonsus Ligouri (Rock) Parish 11 a.m.

Talk to pro-life groups

St. Louis University 7 p.m.

Wednesday, April 14

Board of Trustees Meeting

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary 3 p.m.

Thursday, April 15

13th Annual Police Memorial Prayer Breakfast

Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel 8 a.m.

Confirmation

St. John the Baptist Parish, Gildehaus 7:30 p.m.

Make room in your hearts for Jesus Christ, Archbishop tells faithful

This is the homily of Archbishop Raymond L. Burke at the Mass of Installation on Jan. 26, the Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus, at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.

I. Saint Paul’s words to Saint Timothy, his disciple, co-worker and indeed his most beloved spiritual son, point to the truth we celebrate today: the grace of the Holy Spirit at work within the Apostles and their successors for the teaching, sanctification and pastoral rule of God’s holy people.Timothy had accompanied and assisted Paul on his apostolic journeys; had undertaken, at Paul’s direction, apostolic missions of his own; and had been consecrated as the First Bishop of Ephesus.Saint Paul, in his letters to him, recalls to Timothy’s mind the power of God’s grace within him by his consecration, so that he might be courageous and faithful in carrying out the apostolic ministry. How wise and how encouraging Paul’s words were for Timothy:

Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (Reading II).

Saint Paul wrote similar words to Saint Titus, who was also a disciple and co-worker, and whom the Apostle of the Nations consecrated as the First Bishop of Crete. In fact, in Saint Paul’s Letter to Titus we find a kind of rule of life for a bishop.

In honoring today the memory of Saints Timothy and Titus, we celebrate the grace of the apostolic office, handed down faithfully, from that first generation in the life of the Church, to our time and place. That grace was given to me through the hands of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, on Jan. 6, 1995, first for the service of the Church in La Crosse and now for the service of the Church in St. Louis. Having completed my apostolic mission in my beloved home diocese and taking up today the same apostolic mission in my second home diocese, I, with you, thank God for the outpouring of His grace in my life for your sake.Today, deeply conscious of my unworthiness, I hear the words of Saint Paul to Timothy, as if spoken to me by our Holy Father: "Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (Reading II).

The memory of Saints Timothy and Titus leads us also to celebrate the beloved co-workers of the bishops, the priests who share in the priestly office for the shepherding of God’s flock. The teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reminds us: "Bishops, therefore, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit that has been given to priests at their ordination, will regard them as their indispensable helpers and advisers in the ministry and in the task of teaching, sanctifying and shepherding the people of God" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis [Dec. 7, 1965], n. 7a).

Let us thank God today for our priests of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, my co-workers in carrying out the ministry of Christ the Great Shepherd.

Let us also pray for those whom God is calling to the ordained priesthood, especially the seminarians of the archdiocese.Let us pray, too, for Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, that it may be always a worthy school of priestly virtue and pastoral charity.

II. Our celebration of the apostolic office and ministry is truly a celebration of Christ, the Good Shepherd, in whose person the Apostles and their successors have acted on behalf of God’s holy people in every age. God the Father had promised through the Prophet Isaiah that the fullness of the Holy Spirit would be upon His anointed, upon the Christ, for our salvation.By His Redemptive Incarnation, God the Son, in whom the fullness of the Holy Spirit dwells, has freed us from our slavery to sin and won for us a share in the same Holy Spirit (Reading I).

Among the many riches of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church is the consecration of bishops as true shepherds of God’s flock. By the grace of Holy Orders, bishops act in the person of Christ, the Good Shepherd, sharing in His own life and ministry.So it is that Christ, in His final discourse to His disciples, a small portion of which we have heard proclaimed in today’s Gospel, can say:

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. (Gospel)

At the Lord’s Supper, Christ, who had called the Apostles, consecrated them to carry out His mission of Head and Shepherd in every community of faith, above all by renewing in every time and place the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Eucharist.In the Holy Eucharist, most of all, we witness the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the ministry of those called and consecrated as bishops and priests.

III. We also celebrate today the fifth anniversary of the arrival of our Holy Father Pope John Paul II on pastoral visit to this historic diocese of our nation.On Jan. 26 and 27 of 1999, the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and all who joined them in receiving our Holy Father’s visit, among whom I was blessed to be counted, witnessed directly the Holy Spirit at work in the apostolic ministry of the Successor of Saint Peter, "the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful" (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium [Nov. 21, 1964], n. 23a).Recalling the Holy Father’s visit on this memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, on the day of my installation as Archbishop of St. Louis, I express my deepest gratitude to Pope John Paul II for confiding to me this new apostolic mission, and I pledge again my steadfast loyalty in fostering, in communion with him, the unity of the Church.Let us thank God, in a special way today, for Pope John Paul II, and pray that God continue to grant him wisdom and strength for the pastoral care of the universal Church.

Our Holy Father, true to his apostolic office, came to St. Louis at the sunset of the Second Christian Millennium and the dawn of the Third Christian Millennium to teach us how to live more fully in Christ, how to cooperate more fully with the gift of the Holy Spirit poured forth into our hearts.He came to guide and help us in carrying out the New Evangelization, the teaching of the faith with the new energy and enthusiasm required in an age forgetful of God and even hostile to His plan for our salvation.His words during the pastoral visit remain so timely, a kind of examination of conscience for us today as we, together, begin a new chapter in the life of the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

IV. In proposing to us the challenge of the New Evangelization, our Holy Father drew us to the Heart of Jesus, in his words, "the door through which the eternal love of the Father is poured out on the world" (Pope John Paul II, Homily, Solemn Eucharistic Celebration, America’s Center, St. Louis, Jan. 27, 1999, n. 1c).He drew us to the glorious open Heart of Jesus in the celebration of the holy Mass and in eucharistic adoration.The holy Mass is the fullest and most perfect encounter which we have with Christ in this world. Christ made truly present for us on the altar of sacrifice remains with us in the Sacrament of His true Body and Blood reposed in the tabernacles of our churches and chapels. To help us to understand more deeply and love more fully the eucharistic mystery, on Holy Thursday of last year, our Holy Father gave us his Encyclical Letter "On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church" in which he tells us:

The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: By not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace (n. 25c).

Coming to you as your new archbishop, I urge you to draw close to the Heart of Jesus opened wide for you in the holy Eucharist, by your faithful participation in the Sunday Mass and in weekday Mass, when possible, and by your eucharistic devotion, especially visits to the Blessed Sacrament and eucharistic adoration.

Placing our hearts within the Sacred Heart of Jesus through participation in the holy Eucharist and eucharistic devotion, let us enthrone the image of His Sacred Heart in our homes and places of work and recreation, consecrating ourselves and all that we do to His service.The Sacred Heart devotion is a most fitting and efficacious way of extending eucharistic worship and devotion into every moment and every aspect of our lives.Christ must reign in us for the salvation of the world.Sharers in Christ’s own Spirit, we must more and more turn over our lives completely to Him.

In the daily conversion of life, by which our hearts are more perfectly conformed to the Heart of Jesus, we are inspired and aided by our brothers and sisters who have answered the call to the consecrated life.By their closer following of Christ in the Gospel virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience, they assist us all to attain a greater holiness of life.

Let us thank God today for the many consecrated persons in the archdiocese and pray that the young men and women from the archdiocese, whom God is calling to the consecrated life, will respond with an undivided heart.

In urging the enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I also commend the many associations of the faithful who so strongly contribute to the building up of the life of the Church: the Legion of Mary, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, the Knights of Columbus, the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, the International Serra Club, to name a few. The associations of Christian faithful help their members to extend the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and thus to grow in holiness of life.

V. Drawing us to the Heart of Jesus for the New Evangelization, our Holy Father reminded us that special attention must be given to "the family and the renewal of Christian marriage" (Pope John Paul II, Homily, Jan. 27, 1999, n. 5). It is in the family, in the home formed by the faithful, enduring and procreative love of man and woman in marriage, that the Church first comes to life, that we first come to know, love and serve Christ. Children are indeed "the crowning glory" of marriage (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes [Dec. 7, 1965], n. 48a), for in the procreation and education of children, husband and wife find the greatest fruit of their married love and build up all of society in unity and peace.

What the Church has always known seems to be a new discovery for the thoroughly secularized society of our time, namely that the state of the family determines very much the state of society.In urging our special attention to the family, our Holy Father declared: "As the family goes, so goes the nation!" (Homily, Jan. 27, 1999, n. 5a). According to the wisdom of God’s plan, the exclusive and lifelong love of a man and a woman, who are united in marriage, is the chosen place in which He gives new human life and provides the solid foundation of the life of all society.

The care of a shepherd for the flock must begin with the family, with attention to the preparation of children and young people for marriage, if it be their vocation, and in the encouragement and support of the married, to strive in their daily living toward the high standard of Christlike love for each other and for their children.It is within the family, first of all, that children and young people come to know God’s special plan for them, their vocation in life, in the language of the Church, their way to salvation.Whether young people are called to the married life or dedicated single life or consecrated life or priesthood, they will first come to know the oblation of love, which their vocation demands, through the love of their parents in the family.

Next to the gift of life itself, there is no more important gift that parents can give to their children than assisting them in knowing their vocation in life, their way of giving glory to God and serving their neighbor.No matter what goods we may provide for our children, also in abundance, they will never know happiness in life until they have discovered God’s plan for them and embraced His plan with all their heart.Repeatedly, we are told that parents and parish priests provide the most critical inspiration and assistance to a young person seeking to know God’s will.Today, we thank God for the families of the archdiocese, and we pray that God will grant them the unity and peace of the Holy Family of Nazareth. May our homes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis be the first and most important place for carrying out the apostolate of vocations.

In speaking about the family, I cannot fail to mention the Catholic schools and parish religious education programs, which provide a fundamental and irreplaceable service to parents in the Catholic education of their children.Through catechesis, children and young people receive a most important help in knowing their vocation in life and preparing to do whatever God asks of them. Saint Paul instructs Timothy to entrust the teaching of the faith "to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others well" (Second Reading).We owe a profound debt of gratitude to our catechists, whether in the Catholic schools or in the programs of religious education, whose apostolate lies at the foundation of the life of the Church.

VI. Finally, in drawing us to the Heart of Jesus, our Holy Father taught us the first and most fundamental principle of the moral life: the inviolability of all human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. Contemplating the Heart of Jesus, opened by the soldier’s spear as Christ died on the cross for us, we cannot doubt the immense love of God for each and every one of us.

Sharers in the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are called to be heralds and instruments of the Gospel of Life.Perhaps no service of the Church to the world is more sorely needed today than the fostering of the reverence for all human life.Sadly, society is characterized by violence in a myriad of forms, but most wrongfully in the attack upon the life of those who have the first title to our care: the innocent and defenseless unborn, and those whose lives have grown burdened under advanced years, special needs or serious illness.Too many lives have already been taken through violence.Let us spare no effort in the apostolate of the respect for all human life.

In the Heart of Jesus we will find the inspiration and strength to be "followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation" (Homily, Jan. 27, 1999, n. 5b).In Christ, we will also find the way to protect ourselves from crime without violently taking the life of the criminal.May Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, who desired so strongly to bring the Gospel to her native American brothers and sisters, intercede for us, that we will always find the way to respect and promote the dignity of life of every brother and sister, without boundary of origin or race.

The archdiocese is blessed with so many charitable, educational and missionary institutions.Through their fidelity to their Catholic identity, may they serve all in justice and love.May these institutions, so important to the mission of the Church in the archdiocese, seek the intercession and follow the example of our patrons, Saint Louis IX of France, who daily fed the hungry at his table and served the needy in his own person, and Saint Vincent de Paul who "studied to procure the relief of others under all necessities, whether spiritual or corporal" (Butler’s Lives of the Saints, 1956 edition, Vol. 3, p. 143).

VII. Our celebration of the apostolic office and ministry will now reach its fullness in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which Christ, the Good Shepherd, renews the outpouring of His life for us on Calvary.Through this holy Eucharist, may Christ draw us, shepherd and flock, into one, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father and for the salvation of our world.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America and Star of the New Evangelization, we implore your help and protection, that we may do all that Christ asks of us, and that I may never fail in the mission which Christ has entrusted to me.

Saint Louis IX of France, pray for us.

Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, pray for us.

The holiest days

Introduction

A week ago, on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, we celebrated the beginning of the work of our Redemption, when God the Son became man in the womb of the Virgin Mary through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.That God Himself would come to live with us is a great and wonderful mystery.We call it the mystery of the Incarnation.
God the Son took our human nature for one only purpose, namely, to save us from our sins and to win for us the freedom to love Him and to love one another.God the Father sent His only-begotten Son to us on a mission, our salvation.On this coming Sunday, Palm Sunday, we enter into the holiest days of the Church Year, the days in which we celebrate the completion of the mission for which our Lord Jesus was sent into the world: His suffering, dying and rising from the dead for our eternal salvation.So singular is this time for us that we call "Holy Week" the days from Palm Sunday to the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.Of all the weeks of the Church Year, during which God faithfully pours forth His grace upon us, we refer to one week only as Holy Week, because the source of all grace is found in the events which took place during this week.

Even as we call the truth that God became man for us the mystery of the Incarnation, so we call the truth that God Incarnate suffered and died for our salvation the mystery of the Redemption.The two mysteries are inseparably united.For that reason, our Holy Father is fond of referring to the two great mysteries together as one, the mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation.
Our 40 days of Lenten observance have been preparing us for Holy Week, so that we might enter as fully as possible into the celebration of the mystery of our Redemption.Accompanying Christ, through prayer and worship, during these days of His Passion and death, we recognize the mystery of His Life within us. He reveals to us the deepest truth about our life in Him. In the cleansing and life-giving waters of Baptism, we were buried with Christ, dying to sin, and we came to life with Christ in the Church through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.Our life, as we have come to understand more deeply, through our Lenten penance of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, is a pilgrimage in the company of Christ, which reaches its completion at the portal of death.In Christ, the portal of death leads to resurrection and life without end in the presence of God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — in the company of the angels and all the saints. Through our participation in Holy Week, especially the Sacred Triduum — beginning with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and concluding with the Easter Vigil — we will draw closer to Christ and grow more gratefully conscious of His life within us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Passion or Palm Sunday

We begin Holy Week by participating in the Mass on Passion or Palm Sunday.The Mass begins with the blessing and distribution of palms, and the procession which recalls Christ’s final entry into Jerusalem, in obedience to the will of the Father, to suffer a most cruel passion and death for love of us and in the desire to win for us both freedom from sin and life without end.At the Gospel, the account of the Passion and death of our Lord is proclaimed to us in its fullness, so that we may understand the significance of the holy time into which we are entering.

We can never comprehend sufficiently the meaning of Christ’s suffering and death.Christ Who entered Jerusalem with the acclaim of the people would soon hear the same people crying out repeatedly for His crucifixion. The words of the verse for the Communion Rite, taken from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, reveal the depth of the love of Christ for us as He enters into His Passion. They are words which Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, as He awaited His arrest and condemnation to the most ignominious form of execution known at the time, crucifixion.Christ, ever obedient in carrying out the mission which the Father had entrusted to Him from the moment of His Incarnation in the womb of the Virgin Mary, turned to His Father and prayed: "Father, if this cup may not pass, but I must drink it, then your will be done" (Mt 26:42).

Throughout Holy Week, it would be good to return to a meditation on these words and on the text of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to enter as deeply as possible into the events of His redeeming work.Participation in Holy Mass on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week would be a wonderful way of accompanying Christ during these days.If participation in Mass is not possible, it would be good to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament each day.For all, time each day in prayer, meditating upon the Passion of our Lord, will help us to be with our Lord during these holiest of days.I recommend especially the praying of the rosary each day, meditating upon the mysteries of our salvation and keeping in mind the intentions of the family and of world peace.

Chrism Mass

On Holy Thursday at 10 a.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, I, together with the priests of the archdiocese, will offer the Chrism Mass, during which the sacred chrism will be consecrated and the holy oils will be blessed for use in the celebration of the Sacraments and other sacred rites during the coming year.It is a most beautiful celebration, the last solemn liturgical rite before the Sacred Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper during the evening of Holy Thursday.All of the faithful of the archdiocese are invited to participate in the Chrism Mass. It is one of the most important and beautiful liturgical celebrations of the Church Year.

Holy Thursday is a most special day for priests, for Christ instituted the ordained priesthood on Holy Thursday at the Last Supper.Also, the priests, united around the bishop at the Chrism Mass, are reminded that they, by their ordination, have been constituted the ministers of the sanctifying and healing sacred chrism, oil of the catechumens and oil of the sick.Before the consecration of the sacred chrism and the blessing of the holy oils, the priests of the archdiocese renew their commitment to priestly service.With these words, all of the faithful are invited to pray for their priests:

Ask the Lord to bless them with the fullness of his love,

To help them be faithful ministers of Christ the High Priest,

So that they will be able to lead you to Him,

The Fountain of your salvation. (The Roman Missal)

The consecration of the chrism and the blessing of the oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick remind us of the living presence of Christ, the Anointed of the Lord, with us in the Church, ceaselessly accomplishing the work of our salvation, especially through the sacraments.The word chrism comes from the same root as Christ, the word for anointing.Throughout the Chrism Mass, we recall how Christ was anointed by God the Father with the fullness of the Holy Spirit, so that He might win for us the gift of the Holy Spirit by suffering, dying and rising from the dead.

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

The Sacred Triduum begins with the celebration of the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.We recall how Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist on the night before He died, in order that the fruits of His suffering and dying, the outpouring of His life for us, might be available to us always in the Church. The Holy Eucharist is the source and the highest expression of our life in Christ, for it is communion in His true Body and Blood.For that reason, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is central to the celebration of the mysteries of our Redemption.During the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, sufficient hosts are consecrated, so that the faithful may be able to participate in Holy Communion on Good Friday, the day of our Lord’s Passion and death.At the Gloria, all of the bells of the church are rung with exultant joy and then remain silent until they are even more exultantly rung at the Gloria of the first Mass of Easter during the Easter Vigil.

During the Mass, after the Gospel and homily, the priest carries out what is called, in Latin, the mandatum (command) or the Washing of the Feet.This striking rite recalls what our Lord Himself did during the Last Supper, and His command that His disciples do likewise.The love of Christ which we receive in the Holy Eucharist is expressed in our humble service of our brothers and sisters.

At the conclusion of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in solemn procession throughout the church and is then reposed in a tabernacle in a fittingly decorated chapel.The faithful are invited to make a holy hour in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament during this holy night of its institution.After the Mass, the altar is stripped.Mass will not be celebrated at the altar again until the Easter Vigil.

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

Around 3 p.m. on Good Friday, good because it is the day when Christ died for us on the cross, we solemnly celebrate our Lord’s Passion and death.We begin with the Liturgy of the Word, the heart of which is the proclamation of the Passion from the Gospels.After the homily, the Liturgy of the Word concludes with the General Intercessions for the needs of the universal Church and of the world.

The second part of the celebration is the Veneration of the Cross.A large crucifix is carried in procession and shown to all the faithful, so that they may worship the Savior who hung on the wood of the cross for our salvation. After the solemn procession with the crucifix, the priest, other clergy and faithful approach the crucifix for veneration.During the Veneration of the Cross, appropriate sacred music, based on texts of the Holy Scriptures, helps us to meditate on the immeasurable love of God for us in Jesus Christ.

The celebration concludes with Holy Communion.The hosts consecrated at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper are brought to the altar and distributed to the faithful.Any hosts remaining are reposed in a place outside the main body of the church, so that the church remains without the Real Presence as the Church waits at the tomb of Christ for the announcement of His glorious Resurrection at the Easter Vigil.

Good Friday is a day of abstinence and fasting.It is day when we should observe periods of silence, remembering the Passion and death of our Lord.

The Easter Vigil

The Sacred Triduum concludes and the Easter Season begins with the celebration of the Easter Vigil.Fittingly, the liturgical rites for the Easter Vigil are the richest in meaning and beauty.The blessing of the fire and the lighting of the Easter Candle signify Christ the Light, dispelling the darkness of our sin and restoring life in us by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.The Easter Proclamation (Exultet) sung before the Easter Candle is a most striking meditation on the mystery of our salvation.

The Liturgy of the Word is very ample.Nine readings, seven from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament, are provided, in order that we may have the fullest divine instruction regarding the saving events we celebrate.After the last reading from the Old Testament has been proclaimed, the candles on the altar are lighted and the Gloria is sung with the joy-filled ringing of all the church bells once again.Then follows the prayer, Epistle, Gospel and homily.

The third part of the Easter Vigil is the Liturgy of Baptism, during which we witness the lasting fruit of Christ’s Passion, death and Resurrection in the baptism of catechumens, and in the conferral of Confirmation and the reception of First Holy Communion for the newly baptized.In many churches, this is also the time for the conferral of Confirmation and the reception of First Holy Communion for those being received into the full communion of the Catholic Church or for those who were baptized Catholic but not catechized.

The final part of the Easter Vigil is the Liturgy of the Eucharist.Christ renews His paschal sacrifice, so that we may be healed and nourished with His true Body and Blood.

Conclusion

Please make plans now to participate in the sacred liturgies of Holy Week, especially of the Sacred Triduum. May these holiest of days bring us all to a deeper knowledge and love of Christ.In the mystery of Christ’s suffering, dying and rising from the dead may we discover the deepest truth about God, about ourselves and about our world.

Going forward gratefully

Introduction

One of the principal responsibilities of the bishop is to teach the faith.During the Rite of Ordination of a bishop, the Book of the Gospels is placed on the head of the bishop-elect and then held over his head by two deacons during the Prayer of Ordination. Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II explains the meaning of this part of the Rite of Ordination:

"The Second Vatican Council, advancing along the path indicated by the Church’s tradition, explains that the mission of teaching proper to bishops consists in reverently safeguarding and courageously proclaiming the faith.

"Here we see all the rich meaning of the gesture found in the Roman rite of episcopal ordination, when the open Book of the Gospels is placed on the head of the bishop-elect.This gesture indicates, on the one hand, that the word embraces and watches over the bishop’s ministry and, on the other, that the bishop’s life is to be completely submitted to the word of God in his daily commitment of preaching the Gospel in patience and sound doctrine" (cf. 2 Tim 4) (Pope John Paul II, Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis, "On the Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World" [Oct. 16, 2003], n. 28a-b).

A bishop must never grow weary of teaching the faith.At the same time, he must always be alert to give sound teaching, lest he lead the flock in a wrong direction.The grace of Holy Orders equips him to be a tireless and reliable teacher of the faith.

The first and most efficacious means of safeguarding and teaching the faith is the homily during the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.A bishop is also to use other forms of the communications media to communicate as fully as possible with the flock entrusted to his care, including those who have not yet had the faith taught to them and those who, for whatever reason, are wandering from sound doctrine and practice.

I thank God for our archdiocesan newspaper, the St. Louis Review, which provides me the way to visit your home each week to fulfill my responsibility as Chief Teacher of the Faith in the archdiocese, confirming you in the knowledge and practice of our Catholic faith and leading you to deeper knowledge and more fervent practice.Our weekly encounter through the St. Louis Review will keep us in communication between the times when we are able to communicate with one another at the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy or at other archdiocesan celebrations.

Thank you

In my first visit with you, as your new archbishop, I want, most of all, to say thank you for the faith-filled and warm welcome which you have given to me.Thank you, most of all, for all of the prayers which you have offered for me and my intentions, even before I was appointed.

From Dec. 2 of last year, the day of the announcement of my appointment as Archbishop of St.Louis, you have made me feel at home.The Evening Prayer before the Mass of Installation and, above all, the Mass of Installation were most fittingly and beautifully prepared and celebrated.The Archdiocese of St. Louis can be rightfully proud of the full and solemn expression of faith in Christ and love of Christ through the sacred liturgies on this past Jan. 25-26.I thank all who, in any way, contributed to the preparation and celebration of the beginning of my service as your shepherd.I thank all of you who participated, either by your presence at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis or by television and radio.Your prayers and expressions of best wishes fill me with courage in taking up the weighty responsibilities which are now mine.I thank those who have spoken with me personally and those who have written to me to assure me of their prayers.

All of us owe a great debt of gratitude to Archbishop-elect Joseph F. Naumann, diocesan administrator from the day of Cardinal Justin Rigali’s installation as Archbishop of Philadelphia to my Jan. 26 installation. Archbishop-elect Naumann is an outstanding churchman.His service as diocesan administrator is an eloquent testimony to his pastoral charity.I personally am deeply grateful for all of the brotherly assistance which he has given and continues to give to me.May God reward him abundantly.Let us pray for Archbishop-elect Naumann as he prepares in these days to take up his new responsibilities as Coadjutor Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas on March 19.

My family, the priests and faithful from the Diocese of La Crosse, and other friends who traveled to St. Louis for my installation have asked me to express their deepest esteem and gratitude to Archbishop-elect Naumann, Bishop Robert J. Hermann, the priests and all the faithful of the archdiocese.They were inspired by the strong Catholic faith which they witnessed here and by the many kindnesses shown to them during their time here, a few days for some and a few hours for others.
Many joined us for the Mass of Installation through the coverage provided by our St. Louis television stations and also Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), and have written to say how inspired they were. In the name of all the faithful of the Archdiocese, I express deepest gratitude to our local media and EWTN for making the Mass of Installation available to the greatest possible number of the faithful.

I would also like to express my gratitude to police, fire and street department personnel of the city of St. Louis for their assistance in making the events related to my installation not only safe but also accessible for the many who attended.

The weather since my arrival in St. Louis has presented a bit of a test for us.The Irish say that rain or snow on a day of celebration is a sign of God’s blessing.Coming from Wisconsin, where such weather is all too familiar, I thought that perhaps this was another way to make
me feel at home.Certainly, God has blessed us all abundantly as we begin together a new chapter in the life of the Church in the Archdiocese of St.Louis.We thank Him that no one suffered any injury because of the inclement weather, and we ask for His continued blessing.

Going forward

The days since my installation have been especially given to prayer and visiting with priests, permanent deacons and consecrated persons of the archdiocese, and to a first pastoral visit to each of the 10 deaneries of the archdiocese.In every visit, I have received a wholehearted welcome and the assurance of prayers.For my part, I have seen how richly blessed the archdiocese is.The time of prayer and sacred worship during each visit has been the greatest source of comfort and encouragement for me and, I hope, for all who have shared in these events.

As I have mentioned many times, the coming of a new shepherd for the flock is a time of special grace which we certainly want to receive with a generous heart.Welcoming a new archbishop, we are led to reflect upon God’s greatest gift to us, after life itself, the gift of the Catholic faith and of life in the Church.

The fullness of all that God wishes to reveal to us is found in the Catholic Church.With time, we can begin to take for granted the many blessings of our faith and even grow dull in our knowledge of the faith and tepid in its practice.The culture in which we live, indifferent and even hostile to Christ as it is, makes it all the easier for us to lack attention and care in knowing and practicing our Catholic faith.Now, there is special and strong grace in the Archdiocese of St. Louis for all of us to take up with new energy and enthusiasm the study and teaching of the faith, the life of prayer and the sacraments, and the obedient and generous response to pastoral direction.Reflection upon my responsibilities as teacher, priest and shepherd leads us to embrace anew our responsibility to be one with our shepherd in teaching, celebrating and living the faith.

Our vocation is our path

The grace of the present time in the archdiocese is above all for responding to God’s call in our lives and for helping others, especially our children and young people to hear God’s call and to respond with an undivided heart.From the moment of our conception, God has a special plan for each of us, our vocation, our way to give glory to Him and to build up His holy Church in unity and love.Once we have come to life in Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, God helps us by His grace to grow in the likeness of Christ.With the help of parents, catechists and teachers, and other family members and members of the Church, we become more Christlike and receive a first intimation of our vocation.

The Sacrament of Confirmation, conferred as we enter the important years between childhood and adulthood, strengthens and increases the life of the Holy Spirit within us, so that we will be strong witnesses to Christ in the world.The grace given in the Sacrament of Confirmation helps and guides young people, above all, in knowing their vocation, God’s plan for them and in having the courage to respond generously. For their part, it is important to cooperate with the grace by praying each day to know their vocation in life and by looking for the signs by which God reveals His will to us.

God usually communicates His will to us in the ordinary circumstances of our daily living, which, in a certain sense, are always extraordinary because Christ is accompanying us. Through our prayer, God leads us to consider a certain vocation. We are attracted to the vocation.Also, God places other faithful Catholics in our lives, who see signs of our vocation and encourage us.Parents and parish priests are especially important in helping us to know our vocation and respond to it.

From the evening of Feb. 13 through the afternoon of Feb. 15, I will be leading a retreat for young men who are completing or have completed high school and are hearing God’s call to the ordained priesthood.Please pray for me, that I may be a worthy instrument of God’s grace in helping these young men to know better God’s will for them.Please pray that the retreatants will be disposed to hear God’s call and to respond generously.

Conclusion

May this time of strong grace for us confirm each of us in our vocation, whether it is to the married life, the dedicated single life, the consecrated life or the priesthood.May it also lead us to encourage one another in responding wholeheartedly to God’s call in our lives.May we be especially attentive to those who are experiencing doubts about their vocation or are struggling to remain faithful in their vocation.

Thanking God for His many blessings and going forward in carrying out His work in the archdiocese, we, with the Mother of God, place our hearts in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, trusting in Christ for all that we need and pledging to Him all our love and devotion.We count upon the intercession of Sts. Louis of France, Vincent de Paul and Rose Philippine Duchesne, our patrons.

Syndicate content