August 2020 Four County Catholic
Hope for the Future
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
These have become extraordinary times. The world is intensely focused on the pandemic, the economy, politics, and social justice. “Facts” change depending on the source of information. Calumny is running rampant in social media. Political pundits appearing on news programs put their own “spin” on the headlines to support their position. It is easy to become discouraged. It is easy to lose hope in the future, especially if our focus is misplaced.
As Christians, we know where our focus does the most good. When we keep Our Lord in our sights, seeing Christ in everyone, no matter their race, creed, or socioeconomic station in life; then we will experience the grace and peace promised in our baptism. A future worthy of hope.
Regarding the future, Pope Francis said, “To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is hope. Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naive and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness, that doesn’t dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow.”
A few short weeks ago our diocese was blessed to once again experience God’s tenderness toward our humble Church of Norwich, as I had the honor of conferring the order of priesthood on Michael Patrick Bovino. This was truly a special day, filled with the hope and promise of a bright future. What a blessing for all of us. I was thinking, as Father Bovino imparted his first blessing on me, how quickly the time has passed since my own ordination to the priesthood 45 years prior by Pope Saint Paul VI. I am grateful for all the prayers and blessings that I have received over these many years. It is in this knowledge and the faith that has been nurtured in me, that I thank God for the gift of my vocation and ask Him to pour out His grace upon many more of His sons that they too might embrace a priestly vocation and be led to His altar of sacrifice in service to the people of the Diocese of Norwich.
Father Michael, living out a call to service, will minister to the spiritually wounded with the sacraments of healing and community, instituted by Christ. He will, as priests are called to do, bring Christ’s peace into the world.
It was in 1969, another uncertain and tumultuous time, that Pope Saint Paul VI said, “The world cannot give up its dream of universal Peace. It is precisely because Peace is always coming to be, always incomplete, always fragile, always under attack, always difficult, that we proclaim it. We proclaim it as a duty, an inescapable duty.”
We are all still bound by this duty. All who are baptized.
While it might appear that we are in a time warp, much progress has been made since 1969. There is, however, still a ways to go. We can accept this progress and then build on it. We cannot resign ourselves to complacency. We must do what we have always done. Climb to the mountaintop in service to God and each other.
We have a focus. We need not be overwhelmed by the chaos of the moment. Do what you can do. It can be as simple as offering prayers of supplication as well as thanksgiving or getting involved in a ministry or organization that advances the human dignity that is everyone’s birthright.
This country was started by people with the promise of greatness. That greatness continues today. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his “I Have a Dream” speech, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir...”
It is our responsibility, as followers of Christ, to do what we can to deliver on this promissory note, in the way Jesus taught us, with Kindness and Love.
Trust and follow your faith.
Sincerely yours in the unwavering peace of Christ,
Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich