In Year of Mercy, pray and fast to end violence

| Bishop Andrew Cozzens | November 19, 2015

BishopCozzensAll of us have once again found ourselves in stunned shock and grief at the terrible terrorist attacks that happened Nov. 13 in Paris. We have been scandalized now for months by ISIS’ senseless acts of violence, which has most often been directed against our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East. So many have been driven from their homes, and some of them brutally murdered because they refused to give up their faith. What are we to do in the face of such incredible evil?

At the request of our Holy Father Pope Francis, the universal Church is about to embark on a Jubilee Year of Mercy. Like every jubilee year, it will be an opportunity for great grace for us to enter into a deeper experience of God’s love. As Pope Francis has said, “It is indeed my wish that the jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective.”

Even before these most recent attacks, the bishops of Minnesota have been reflecting on the need for all of us to pray and fast in particular to help bring an end to violence in our culture, especially violence that destroys innocent human life. I want to propose that this would be a special focus of our prayer during this Year of Mercy.

And we don’t have to look across the ocean to find senseless acts of violence. It seems often we find ourselves braced right here at home wondering where the next school or mall shooting will happen or when the next suicide in our community will occur.

All of us have been deeply scandalized by the videos produced about Planned Parenthood, which have shown their employees callously discussing the using — and even selling — of body parts of innocent babies. These discussions are so horrific that they are very difficult to watch.

The videos have made real for us all again the horror of abortion. As Pope Francis said, “The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails.”

Pope Francis also points out that many times women choose abortion because they feel like they have no alternative, and he wants them to experience the power of God’s forgiveness.

For this reason, Pope Francis has granted to all priests in this Year of Mercy the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion. Previously abortion has been a “reserved sin” in order to highlight its significance in our culture, which takes it casually. As a reserved sin it could require special permission from the bishop for a priest to absolve this sin, but during the Year of Mercy this will not be the case.

And, to be honest, we don’t have to look just at our culture — we know there has been violence in the Church. We are painfully aware of the violence committed even by priests against the young, and we are doing much in the archdiocese to prevent this terrible crime and to try to bring healing to victims. But we still must always remember to pray for the healing of the victims of this violence.

In light of these deep struggles in our culture and our Church, I would like to propose a special initiative in our archdiocese over the next several months of the Year of Mercy. We would like to dedicate First Fridays of this Year of Mercy to praying for an end to violence against human life —  praying that God would pour out his merciful love to change the hearts of all those who perpetrate these senseless acts of violence. The Office of Marriage, Family and Life will announce special activities at various parishes on First Fridays during starting Dec. 4 through May 6.

I invite all of you to dedicate your own prayer and fasting on First Fridays to pray for an end to violence against human life as part of your activities in the Year of Mercy. You may consider spending an extra hour in one of our adoration chapels for the intention of an end to violence against human life.

Let us pray that many people will come to experience God’s mercy, and let us look for ways to be merciful so that our culture may be transformed more and more from a culture of violence into a culture of life.

Durante el Año de Misericordia, orar y ayunar para que termine la violencia

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Category: Only Jesus

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