Hello and welcome!
Last Thursday, I had a virtual meeting with benefactors and supporters of FOCUS campus ministry. They asked me to share some of my experiences of having the FOCUS missionaries here in Boston.
Of course, I noted the large student population we have here in the Archdiocese of Boston and how successful the FOCUS missionaries have been in campus ministry. I also said how impressive it is, not only to see the evangelization that they undertake but also the transformation in the lives of the missionaries themselves, which prepares them to be leaders in the Church. Certainly, many of them will go on to embrace vocations to the priesthood or religious life, but all of them will be very much involved in leadership roles in their parishes and in the life of the Church in the future.
On Friday, we had a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Catholic University of America.
CUA has had to make many adaptations due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has created challenges for institutions of higher learning throughout the country, but they are committed to doing all they can to keep CUA moving forward.
Saturday evening, we had our Archdiocesan Encuentro Juvenil for Hispanic youth in the archdiocese. In the past, we’ve held this gathering close to Christmas, but this year they decided to move it up a bit and, due to the pandemic, hold it virtually.
We are very grateful to Natalia Pellicano, Deacon Franklin Mejia and Sister Elsa Rodriguez for all their hard work in helping to bring this gathering together.
Sunday, we had our annual Red Mass for those involved in legal professions at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The tradition of holding a Red Mass goes all the way back to the Middle Ages, and is held at the beginning of the judicial year, calling on the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom. It takes its name from the red vestments worn by the priest for the Mass of the Holy Spirit and also from the red robes that were worn by judges in England and France, where the custom originated.
A number of officers of the Catholic Lawyers Guild were with us for the Mass, and we were very happy that, once again this year, Father George Salzmann joined us with a group of students from Harvard Law School.
Last Sunday’s Gospel was very appropriate for the Red Mass. It was, of course, the Gospel in which Jesus is asked about whether it is permissible to pay taxes. He takes a coin, points out the image on it and says, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” So, in my homily, I spoke about the fact that the coin bears the image of Caesar, but every human being bears the image of God, and that is the basis of our Catholic social teaching.
A number of his many nieces and nephews were there with us for the service.
It was an opportunity to express my condolences to James, her husband of 57 years, Deacon Chris and the rest of her family.
This week we were happy to have two virtual gatherings for young people considering vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. On Tuesday, we had one of our St. Andrew gatherings for young men considering a vocation to the priesthood. And the following day, we had a Fiat gathering for young women discerning a vocation to religious life.
As much as we look forward to once again holding these gatherings in person, we are very pleased that they are continuing on, at least virtually, to help our young people discern if they are being called to a life of service to God’s people.
Thursday, we had a meeting of our Presbyteral Council at which we discussed a number of topics, including the continuation of our discussion on making accommodations for Christmas liturgies.
At the meeting, I also shared with them that statement that I drafted concerning the Holy Father’s comments on civil unions. I would also like to share that statement with you here:
Quite understandably, the Holy Father’s recent statements concerning civil unions have captured the attention of the world press, because many people are anxious for the Church to change its position on marriage and family. Pope Francis strongly and consistently teaches that marriage is between a man and woman for a lifetime and that this is God’s plan for having and raising children.
The Pope’s endorsement of civil unions is not an endorsement of homosexual activity. Just as the Church does not campaign against civil laws that allow for common-law marriage or second marriages that are not sacramental, even though such arrangements can be in violation of the laws of the Church, the Holy Father recognizes that in civil society there can be cogent reasons to enact such laws providing for civil unions which are not the same as the institution of marriage.
Pope Francis has seen civil unions as a way for governments to provide protections and health care for couples in long-term, committed relationships, whether they be siblings or friends or partners. Such arrangements are not always of a sexual nature.
The Holy Father is very aware of the suffering and alienation of homosexual individuals, gay people, who are rejected by family and society. He is also keenly aware of the parents and loved ones who also suffer because a member of their family is bullied or marginalized for being different. The demands of sexual morality are very challenging for anyone seeking to lead a life of faithful discipleship. We do not serve people well by falsely claiming that we can change the Decalogue. Our task is to show people that we love them and care about them and that together we can strive to be better people, more generous, more courageous and more faithful to what God is calling us to do.
Until next week,