From the Bishop

What are indulgences?

In the last issue of FAITH, you received some information about indulgences. This was in response to the Holy Father’s offer during this Year of Faith as we make a pilgrimage to one of the churches in our diocese. Let us look a bit at the foundations of the teaching about indulgences.

How faith can be deeper after doubt

Just before being ordained a deacon back in 1976, I was on a private retreat. It was the final preparation for the great sacrament of holy orders. Suddenly, I was struck with the most severe doubt that has ever come upon me. I did not believe that Jesus was really present in the Eucharist! The Eucharist had always been the center of my life and certainly was to be even more so as a deacon and then as a priest. I was in a panic.

God’s love is the greatest gift of Christmas

We prepare to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. But this is more than just a birthday! We are really celebrating an incredible truth about God. We have been given the gift of knowing God. Now God, perhaps, could have let us know all this by some kind of spiritual vision into each of our hearts and minds, or, perhaps, by some prophet speaking words which came to him from God. Yet, these methods had been used already and were not enough. Instead, God chose to become manifest in our flesh. God chose to use matter, our material reality, in order to show forth the divine.

Please go vote!

Please vote! That is not very controversial. Now try this: Please vote according to your conscience. Still, that is not too bad. Most of us do not want to violate our consciences. Now, how about this: Please make sure your conscience is well-formed. Ah, now we might be entering a more problematic area. For a Catholic, a well-formed conscience aligns us with the will of God, which we discern through close and prayerful attention to the teachings of Jesus, as recorded in Scripture and as taught by the bride of Christ, the Church.

Reflections on 10 years as a bishop

September marked my 10th anniversary of ordination to the episcopacy. There were four remarkable aspects to the ordination ceremony, beyond the power of the prayer and the sacrament itself. First of all, it did not take place in the cathedral in Detroit (which would have been the norm) because the cathedral was being renovated. (However, my ordinations to the diaconate and the priesthood also did not take place at the cathedral, but those are other stories.) So there must be some kind of aversion to cathedrals on my part!

What is your relationship to Jesus?

A new parish year begins! A task which has been given to all our parish councils is discussion of the pastoral letter, Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord. This is not just an ordinary discussion, however. Our parish leadership is to examine their own relationship with Jesus and thus the degree to which they feel impelled to witness to Jesus, as Lord and savior and teacher and friend.

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