Pastor’s Message January 22nd, 2017

Our Diocesan Services AppealCommitment Sunday” is this weekend. After seeing the video last week about the work of our Catholic Social Services programs that offer support to those who need it most – our priestly preparation program to prepare the future priests of our diocese; the rapidly expanding Catholic education programs for our children and adults; and the charitable services for the poor and those incapable of helping themselves in life’s struggles. We were asked to pray and reflect before making our sacrificial offering to sustain these services for the next year. The goal set for us seems high; but we have the capabilities of achieving it if we focus our giving on serving God in doing His work.

The theme for this year’s appeal is, “Together in Mission, We are Called.” It’s about living together and providing the resources needed to faithfully answer God’s call to be a community of faith that brings help, hope and healing to a world in need of the Good News of Jesus Christ… The Diocesan Services Appeal is an essential way of reaching out to support and sustain the mission and ministries of the Diocese of Palm Beach.” As a diocesan family, we carry out our work to transform lives, envisioning a world touched by God’s mercy, a world where every individual is valued, families are healthy and strong, communities are united, poverty and need are alleviated, and all people share justly in the blessings of God’s creation. Each day we help the hungry and the homeless, at-risk youth, struggling families and single parents. We help immigrants, refugees, neglected children and those with intellectual disabilities. We provide programs for pregnant teens, and court-adjudicated delinquents. And we educate a future generation to take on the call of Jesus to preach “the Good News” to all God’s people.

That work is guided and inspired by God Himself, asking us to use His gifts to us for the good of others who have not been so blessed. That’s why it’s necessary to make a “sacrificial” gift, reflecting our gratitude to what God has given us and extending that helping hand. All of His gifts to us are based on these Core Values of: Compassion – genuine care & heartfelt concern for those we serve; Dignity – respect for each person as created in God’s image;

Charity – generosity toward all in response to God’s goodness; Justice – defense and advocacy for the rights of the poor and vulnerable; and Excellence: responsible stewardship and professional competence, leading us through Catholic teaching on many levels. Let your heart and mind be joined as one, allowing you to serve others because you’ve been blessed.

The annual Palm Beach diocesan observance of the infamous Roe v Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court will take place on Monday, January 23rd from 11 a.m. until 12 Noon across Olive Street from the County Court House. It will be marked by prayers, hymns and a public recitation of the Rosary led by our Bishop Barbarito, followed by a talk by the bishop. Parking will be available in neighboring parking garages and lots. If you are able, please bring your little children along with you as we pray the Rosary in union with our bishop. It is through gentle but fervent prayer that we begin to see the Lord change hearts of stone.

The great African Cardinal Robert Sarah talks about how we live in a “dictatorship of noise.” Advertising, calamity in the news, and violent music bombard us. This noise can drug and deafen us to the voice of God. “God is silence,” Cardinal Sarah says, “and the devil is noisy.” The devil is the father of discord and the enemy of harmony. Those who obey and cooperate with God create beautiful harmonies; the devil does the opposite.

Satan is not a legend or a metaphor or a pre-scientific superstition.  As Pope Francis already has warned us many times, the devil is a very real and malignant spirit who uses the noise of our culture and the confusion of our desires to turn us away from God. In the words of Cardinal Sarah: “Silence is more important than any other human work because it expresses God. I am not afraid to state that to be a child of God is to be a child of silence.” What does this mean for us concretely? It means that we need to cut out much noise from our lives. Perhaps we need to listen to less music, browse fewer websites and cut back on Facebook. We need to remember that God created us to rest with Him, not the way people lounge on a couch, but the way an elderly married couple can sit together on a bench and share a love deeper than words. We need to have that kind of leisurely love with God. We need to cultivate that silence with Him, for it’s in that silence that he reveals himself and his plan to us. That’s one reason why we have a lovely Adoration Chapel, where we can sit in silence.

When the prophet Elijah was in his cave, the Lord said to him: “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still small voice.  Then, in that silence, Elijah went out to meet the Lord” (from 1 Kings 19).

If we’re men and women who’ve been intimate with God in silence, we won’t be obstacles to his plan. We’ll find our pride pruned and our humility nourished. We will be like polished arrows, concealed in the quiver of the Lord (see Is 49:2).

Pope Francis tells us, “Let us ask ourselves the question: How am I? How is my life of faith? Is it a life of horizons, of hope, of courage, of going forward; or a lukewarm life that doesn’t even know to endure ugly moments? We ask that the Lord might give us the grace to overcome our selfishness, because parked Christians, stationary Christians, are selfish. They look only at themselves, they don’t raise their heads to look at Him.” If we prepare ourselves well, then the Lord will find us ready to do his work. It can be daunting to look at the hostile, hurting world, and we can be nostalgic for other times that seem easier than ours. But in reality, this is an exciting and fruitful time in the Church. The popes have exhorted us time and again to preach the Gospel with joy. It’s our job to propose to the world the truth about itself: that it was loved into existence by a God who died at its hands, but who nonetheless rose again in glory to save it.