April 2017 Four County Catholic
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Just recently, I happened to hear of a lecture to be given at a Catholic University, not that far from our Diocese, on the topic of "The Divided States of America." I have not had an opportunity to learn more about the speaker or the context of the lecture. Admittedly, I am under-informed about the program. Still, the title of the lecture I found disappointing, if not disturbing.
We are living through a period of deep divides politically, socially and culturally. Divisive language does not help. As Catholics and good citizens of a great and caring Nation, we are committed to free speech and open debate as is our right in a healthy democracy. My concern with the title of the lecture was not related to free speech on a college campus. My concern is the excess of divisive rhetoric in headlines, book titles, lectures and the like when what we need are words of healing, hope, togetherness and faith.
It is time for less division and more solidarity in our words and actions. This is a much needed course correction in our public discourse. People of faith are inclined toward finding common ground and the common good. Now is the time to be truly faithful Christians as well as good citizens determined to find unity not division.
Among the many challenges shaking our sense of unity is the migration and refugee crisis. I am in full accord with my fellow bishops who have expressed their steadfast commitment to refugees as brothers and sisters equal before God. There are many active ways we are providing assistance during this crisis through many of our ministries, parishes and even on a family to family level when possible. We bishops have formally appealed to Congress to pursue comprehensive immigration reform that is profoundly humanitarian while safeguarding our national security in dangerous times. Such reform can be accomplished without compromising our inclusiveness and the protection of the poor and vulnerable. We are one family.
The foundation of a free and just society is family and community. Nurturing our family life and nurturing our togetherness within the Church establishes our sense of community. Living our faith as a community leads us to open our arms and hearts to those who need our help and comfort. Sometimes the core principle of love thy neighbor gets overshadowed by political rhetoric. The Church makes sure at every opportunity that the poor and the vulnerable are never overshadowed.
His Holiness, Pope Francis, reminds us that "Christians are called to spread hope by supporting and encouraging one another, especially those in danger of faltering. We do so, with the strength provided by the Lord, who is our unfailing source of hope."
Holy Week is now upon us. There is no more sacred time than these days of solemn reflection on the sacrifices we make to be worthy of helping our Lord carry His Cross. On Holy Thursday evening, we begin the Paschal Triduum, the summit of the liturgical year. Over a three-day period, we immerse ourselves in the mystery of what it means to be Christian. The love and glory of Easter and the Resurrection will continue for fifty succeeding days.
Let us be mindful of the moment as we are overcome by the enormity of Jesus laying down His life that we may be saved for all eternity. With the elevation of gratitude, love and compassion in our hearts and souls during this holiest of seasons, let us find peace. Let us draw on the infinite love of Jesus and contemplate how to be the best possible brothers and sisters to all who need us.
Sincerely yours in Christ’s love,
Bishop Michael R. Cote