From the Bishop

No Meat on Fridays all year long?

In my pastoral letter of Holy Thursday 2012, I invited the active Catholics of the Diocese of Lansing – those already in the Household of Faith – to a deepened commitment to prayer and purification. As we prepare to reach out to inactive Catholics and those who do not yet know the Lord – the Lost Sheep and those in the Court of the Gentiles – we first need to prepare our minds and hearts. We must know Jesus well, if we are to be his authentic disciples in this confused and troubled world.

Pope Francis, a shepherd with the heart of Christ

Wow! He does it all on one lung! Yet, he clearly has the heart of Christ. Of course, the one in question is Pope Francis. There is a spiritual energy that moves him internally and reaches us externally through him. His election as pope by the cardinals is a clear sign of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in their discernment. They wanted to do God’s will and it seems that God’s will has triumphed in our new Holy Father.

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.


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