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We are about to begin in our Archdiocese an exciting series of events, programs and activities to celebrate the wonders possible in the Year of Faith. Pope Benedict XVI has called for this unique year to begin in the Church throughout the world on Oct. 11, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and to conclude on the Solemnity of Christ the King on Nov. 24, 2013.
The year should be an engaging pilgrimage for all of us, making possible wonderful developments in our families, parishes, the Archdiocese and the Church worldwide. There will be many occasions to focus on the communion of the Church and on our call to enhance its effectiveness.
From the beginning, we focus on our communion with God, asking him to carry us to an ever greater richness in our faith. We do this in the context of the Tradition of our Catholic faith and culture. The tremendous challenge is to unite more effectively our prayer and actions.
The Benedictine priests, sisters and brothers have been passing on to us the perduring strength of the theme, "Ora et labora," "To pray and to work."
The Dominicans continue to remind us of the fundamental strength of the exercise, "Contemplari et aliis tradere contemplata," "To pray deeply and pass on to others the fruits of our contemplation."
Saint Teresa of Ávila gave the Carmelites and us the classic spiritual work, The Interior Castle, highlighting so directly how we penetrate that castle by the union of prayer and work.
Saint Ignatius Loyola called the Jesuits and all of us to be "simul in actu contemplativus," "contemplative in our action."
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux reminded us pointedly that "God is at the heart of every person’s present moment."
The overwhelming theme of all these reflections is the integrity of the whole person. Our Blessed Mother gives us the example at the beginning, "Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart" (Luke 2:19).
During this Year of Faith, our goal might be to build up in God’s grace our interior storehouse. Too often, we see people whose lives seem to lack the depth and meaning that bestow a sense of high purpose in our struggles. We are called to see history not as a random series of events but rather as the eternal plan reconciling us to Divine Life.
How can we study the woods without thinking of God? How can we be conscious of our breathing, of our heartbeats, without reflecting on God? Time is God’s time!
In his Apostolic Letter calling for this year, Porta Fidei, The Door of Faith (Acts 14:27), Pope Benedict reminds us that the door of faith is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church.
When Blessed Pope John Paul II traveled to Poland in 1979, the year after his election to the papacy, the totalitarian government tried to mute his communications. It could not do it. Millions of people followed the pope around Poland, continually shouting, "We want God." That government collapsed in 1989, followed by a series of similar developments in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
So it went throughout the world, with the extensive visits of the Holy Father. When the Pope died on April 2, 2005, the crowds began to shout, "Santo subito!" "Make him a saint immediately." His astounding impact goes forward.
We, too, are called to share the richness of our faith, with our children and all with whom we connect. Let’s understand all the more the beauty of Christmas, the joy of Easter, the consequent exercises of our faith. Let’s explore more in depth, and in action, what it means to follow Jesus Christ. May we understand with all our experience that gratitude to God is at the heart of our love for God.
These days in our country, we are coming to realize how our communion with God is facing critical challenges. For the first time in the history of the United States, the federal government is forcing religious institutions to fund and make possible practices that are opposed to our teachings: surgical sterilizations, pills that induce abortion, and contraception. Who knows where it will end?
We are compelled to speak up to issues at stake, to candidates running for office and others who are remaining in office. The fundamental principles which have guided our country from its beginning are in danger. Religious liberty was the first freedom in the Bill of Rights. The threats to it today are outrageous. Our communion with God calls us to act.
Archbishop’s Annual Appeal 2012
The total for this year to date is $9,724,952, which is $141,991 higher than our amount at this time last year. You clearly understand the critical importance of pushing back the frontiers of suffering for people in need. These are very difficult times economically. You realize this, you reflect on it and you act. Be assured of my deepest gratitude for the ways you exercise your faith!