Monthly Column

A Christian is a Missionary of Hope

November 2020 Four County Catholic

A Christian is a Missionary of Hope

 

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we approach this Thanksgiving, we find ourselves challenged on many fronts.  Political and social unrest is in our streets and in the media. We are hindered in our normal way of life by a pandemic that persists in challenging us physically and in many cases mentally and spiritually. By any measure, these are severely trying times.
 
Thankfully, we have our faith. We can rely upon this faith for strength.  His Holiness Pope Francis has a powerful message for us -- “What a real Christian is like, is not whiny and angry, but convinced by the strength of the Resurrection that no evil is infinite, no night without end, no hate is invincible from love. Those who have Christ at their side truly no longer fear anything. A Christian is a missionary of hope.”
 
Central to the times in which we live, the Holy Father’s message creates an opportunity for us to stand up to the imposing challenges before us. To lift each other up.
 
Worshipping and living our faith in freedom is one of the blessings for which we are grateful at this time of thanksgiving. I am told by the pastors that more and more of you are safely returning to Mass to worship in person. If your circumstances require you to attend Mass remotely, please do not worry. Weekly live streaming of Masses throughout the Diocese will continue until such time as everyone can feel safe in returning to their parish in person. You can also find daily Masses, broadcast by the Office of Radio and Television of the Archdiocese of Hartford, broadcast on local television stations as well.
 
As we know, a way to draw strength and radiate faith is to worship and pray together. The power of joining together at Mass on Sunday or any opportunity should never be underestimated. It comforts the soul and helps center our lives as an active community of faith. Attendance at Mass is not a private matter. We must always remember that we are called to gather as a community “to render to God an outward, visible, public and regular worship as a sign of His universal beneficence to all.” (CCC 2176)
 
Unfortunately, to keep everyone safe, and to not exclude anyone, the annual Masses that honor specific professions were cancelled this year. An unfortunate casualty of COVID-19.
 
For more than a quarter of a century, we had come to rely on these yearly gatherings of educators, first responders, and other occupations with such names as the White Mass, the Red Mass, the Blue Mass and the Red, White and Blue Mass, to celebrate with and pray for these people no matter what their calling or religious affiliation.  
 
Even though the current situation does not allow us to celebrate with you, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to each and every one of you and let you know that I will continue to pray for your safety, success and spiritual comfort. 
 
I look forward to the day when fire and EMS personnel parade down Broadway passing underneath the American flag extended between the ladders of the fire trucks in front of the Cathedral; when all branches of the Armed Services carry their colors down the center aisle of the Cathedral; when those Dedicated to Education, without whom we would not have the other professions, place their roses before Our Blessed Mother; and I also look forward to the day when the police dogs grace us with their quiet presence.
 
I recall the words of one homilist who, when speaking to first responders,  said, “What you do is important. It is more than a job. It is more than a civic duty. It is more than public service; it is a vocation. It is a calling by God, a command by Jesus Christ himself, to love your neighbor as yourself.“
 
I could not agree more and for this I am forever grateful.
 
I pray that you and your families have a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with health, love and joy and that the blessings of Almighty God rest upon you.
 
May we all continue to be missionaries of hope.
 
Sincerely yours in the love of Christ,

Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich

 

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