“Through the Blood of the Cross.” “In truth and charity.” “With a shepherd’s care.”
In my role as your new bishop and teacher, I find a connection between the episcopal mottos of my predecessors, the late Bishops Joseph M. Marling C.PP.S. and Michael F. McAuliffe and Bishop Emeritus John R. Gaydos.
It is the obligation and responsibility of every diocesan bishop to tend Christ’s flock with care, through the preaching of the truth of Christ’s Gospel in charity, for the salvation of souls achieved by the shedding of Christ’s Blood.
It is the whole Church, in all its members, that continues and extends the mission of Jesus Christ, not just the ecclesiastical ministries. Every one of the faithful has the right and duty to exercise the spiritual charisms they receive in Baptism and the other sacraments “in the Church and the world for the good of humanity and for building up the Church” (Vatican II Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, no. 3).
But the bishop, in collaboration with his priests and deacons, has the responsibility for the communion of the Church, including the responsibility to judge the nature of the laity’s gifts and order their use for their harmonious exercise.
We are all bound to be faithful to Christ in what we believe, in how we pray, and how we live. With the apostolic office I have received for you, the people and clergy of the diocese, I pray that I may fulfill my responsibility to preserve our communion in faith, hope and charity so that we may give thanks to the Lord with hearts full of gratitude.
Sometimes in our society, it can be very difficult to be faithful to the timeless truths of Jesus’ teaching as represented in the official doctrines of the Church. Because of the many cultural cross-currents that pull people apart from one another, it can be hard to relate the teachings of our Church with what we subjectively experience.
In short, we need help with connecting the dots of Church doctrine and the good of the individual and society.
In this new column, “Making Connections,” I will invite from time-to-time other authors to apply the enduring truths the Church has been upholding for millennia, but with a sense of hope and a reminder of the role of grace in our lives.
We will pray for inspiration and turn to Scripture and the rich deposit of faith that comes to us in an unbroken line leading back to Christ’s Apostles.
All of us should avoid the arrogant attitude that Jesus despised in the religious authorities of His time, who seemed more interested in scoring points, winning arguments or proving someone else wrong.
Rather, what Jesus did and what we should do is to hold forth the beauty of the teachings of the Gospel and seek the conversion of hearts rather than their condemnation to an eternal hell.
We need to help others see for themselves how the teachings of Jesus are truly good for them.
Having the right words is good and necessary, but nothing can replace the need to practice what we preach.
Your bishop, priests and deacons are here to assist you in your vocation to convert the world!
Never in history have there been more ways to share wisdom and insight than we have today. Count on me using the pages of this newspaper and its online edition, along with other forms of communication technology, to explore the timeless, objective truth of our faith and its inescapable bearing on the most challenging issues of our age.
In that spirit, let us now help each other connect the dots of our faith.