Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 23, 1976 when Archbishop Henry J. O'Brien passed away.
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msgrliptak tnThree crucifixes have been part of my life almost as long as my memory allows. Two are affixed to the walls of my rectory quarters; the other is on a bedside table.

The crucifix on the small table dates from my First Holy Communion. It was given to me by my godmother, a faithful, hardworking resident of New York City where she worked in the fashion industry. The small crucifix which she gave me in the early 1930s has been with me since, even when I was at St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, and all through every parish I have served since priestly ordination in 1953. (She died during my diaconal year, 1952; I was able to assist at her funeral Mass at a well-known Jesuit Church in Manhattan.) Obviously, this small crucifix has been a constant, precious reminder of my faith and of those who helped me ascend to the altar of God via Holy Orders.

A second crucifix, affixed to the wall in my room, where I can see it just before retiring, was a Christmas present from my pastor when I was an altar server in grade school – fourth grade. It occurred during the height of the Great Depression; my pastor, at St. Charles Borromeo in Bridgeport, was Msgr. John McGivney, whose older brother was Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, whose Cause for Beatification is currently under way. (Msgr. John died in 1939; I wrote an editorial on his death for a small newspaper I was editing then, when I was only 11 years old. I have kept a copy of that issue.)

Every time I see or pray before this second crucifix, I immediately recall Msgr. McGivney and St. Charles Parish and my service as an altar boy, and, most important, the other good priests and the people of St. Charles – and, of course, the privilege of having grown up in the Catholic Faith, thank God.

The third crucifix is a simple reproduction of a famous painting by Salvador Dalí. My sister Beatrice (a superb educator and the mother of six) had discovered it some years ago on the floor of a food store. It was apparently thrown there, among a huge collection of depictions of gardens and pastoral scenes. My sister could not bear to see it so irreverently discarded among the other reproductions, all intended as premiums for purchases made. She acquired it and gave it to me.

So many lessons can be drawn from these three crucifixes.

First, of course, is the need for a crucifix in one’s living quarters as a constant reminder of our redemption in Christ. Surely, every Catholic home ought to display this emblem of Faith in an area that is truly prominent – as a shrine, in a sense, reminding everyone who enters that he or she is living in or visiting what Christianity traditionally calls a home; namely, a “little church,” where marrieds exercise quasi-sacerdotal functions and children learn to embrace God, whose only-begotten son, Jesus Christ, guides and walks with us in life’s journey. (The Latin word is “Ecclesiola,” literally meaning a “little church.”)

Second, every Catholic should possess a small crucifix capable of being held – in a hospital bed, for example, and especially as a source of spiritual strength at difficult moments in life. Such a cross should be among the religious gifts given by godparents or family members to children and teenagers at various stages of their Christian growth.

Third, what better a gift can be chosen for a new home than a crucifix, especially in the context of the chaos in which the world is immersed today? A crucifix is not only a reminder of the ugliness of sin, but also a sign that Christ our Savior has redeemed us.

This is the season for contemplating all of the above. In our secular, materialistic, often atheistic environment, built upon myths, entertainments and absurdities, the crucified Lord Jesus is for many but a slight distraction. Yet Christ crucified is really, and ultimately, the sign of our Faith’s triumph over the powers of evil, a sign that blossomed forth in the Resurrection; a sign that death, which results from sin, can be overcome by virtue of the love Jesus exemplified toward the Father, and that the Father poured forth upon his Son. Because of the Cross of Calvary, Satan, the Father of Lies, has been conquered in principle. Although he is still at work in our world, he is on a leash, and cannot possibly win. Christ, the Son of God Incarnate, has been victorious; he leads us and protects us against Satan and his cohorts. Christus vincit!

Msgr. David Q. Liptak is Executive Editor of The Catholic Transcript and censor librorum for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.