What a way to spend the July 4th weekend! The bishops of the United States decided to have a gathering in Orlando, Florida (wouldn’t January have been better?) entitled, “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America.” This all flows from Pope Francis’ letter, Evangelii gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). The aim is to set the entire Church in the United States on the trajectory of forming our Catholics to be missionary disciples, especially disciples who are filled with joy because of Christ.
From the Bishop
As Catholics, it is good for us to reflect upon Mary since May is dedicated to her, and we are in the midst of the 100th anniversary of Mary’s apparition at Fatima this year. First, it is always important that we emphasize that we do not adore or worship Mary. We honor her even as her son, Jesus, honors her. She is his mother and our mother given to us by Jesus on the cross. We also pray to her – that is, we converse with her as we would with any close friend, as we would with our mother, which she is. We know she loves us and cares for us. We all can benefit from that love.
April this year has two weeks of Lent (including Holy Week) and two weeks of Easter time. What can one say to combine all this?! And yet, this is the heart of our faith. As you know, every Sunday we proclaim the Creed. It begins with a short part on God the Father, then there is a very long part on God the Son, then a short part on God the Holy Spirit, and a final short part on our belief in the Church and the presence of the action of God through her.
It seems we are not done with mercy! Pope Francis has decided to continue the fruits of the Year of Mercy even as he concluded the formal jubilee: “The Jubilee now ends and the Holy Door is closed. But the door of mercy of our heart continues to remain open.” (Misericordia et Misera, #16) He wants us to continue to celebrate mercy.
We are standing on two legs! In 2012, our diocese set out on a journey to deepen our discipleship and then transform that discipleship into outreach to those neighbors and friends of ours who are “former” Catholics, that is, to help make us missionary disciples. In fact, one might say that we are never really disciples of Jesus unless we are sharing him and inviting others to know him, and then walking with them along his way.
In October, we in the Diocese of Lansing were blessed to be part of an assembly for the New Evangelization. We were energized by our speakers, and filled with the Holy Spirit in our prayer. If you were unable to attend this wonderful event, I encourage you to visit the website (dioceseoflansing.org/2016-assembly-highlights) and participate in it digitally with your brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope you will find the content there inspiring as you undertake the joyful task of evangelization — this is our call, and was given to us at the moment of our baptism.