Making Jesus our guidepost

| Archbishop Bernard Hebda | September 14, 2017 | 4 Comments

With many friends and family members living in the paths of Harvey and Irma, I found myself frequently consulting the website of the National Hurricane Center to get the most up-to-date reports on the projected path of those storms. I devoured any information that I could find concerning the various projections and what made them reliable. The weather forecasters all seemed to have had particular respect for the so-called “European Model,” noting that it was based on observations from the greatest number of points of reference: weather networks around the globe, atmospheric soundings, reconnaissance aircraft and much more. The information was broader, more detailed and seemingly more reliable.

As we chart the course for the archdiocese and for each of us individually, we need to know the points of reference, the guideposts, along the way. As followers of Jesus, our No. 1 point of reference, of course, has to be Jesus himself. Everything that we do has to be in alignment with Christ. While we no longer see so many of the WWJD bracelets, we really do have to be intentional in asking “what would Jesus do?” as we make decisions. That matrix for decision-making should have a concrete impact on our pastoral outreach, our spending, our relationships and our daily to-do lists.

If we’re going to be able to look at the world through Jesus’ eyes, we really need to learn as much as we can about him and about his teaching, so that we can “put on Christ” and apply his reasoning even to questions and circumstances that weren’t part of life in first century Palestine and were not directly addressed in the teachings recorded in the Gospels.

How do we get to know Jesus well enough to think as he thinks? St. Teresa of Kolkata reminded us that we can have a genuine encounter with Jesus as we pour ourselves out in service to our brothers and sisters in need, who are truly Christ “in the distressing disguise of the poor.” We know that we can also encounter Christ and come to know him better in our prayer and as we celebrate the sacraments, where Jesus makes himself truly present. We can also have genuine encounters with Christ, the Word, as we study sacred Scripture.

I am particularly encouraged by the number of high-quality opportunities for Bible study that will be offered throughout the archdiocese this fall. Our Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute, for example, is offering an eight-week course, The Great Adventure: A Quick Journey through the Bible, beginning in October. Our Office of Evangelization, moreover, has a Bible study page on its Rediscover website, http://rediscover.archspm.org/bible-study, that provides great up-to-date information about the many Bible studies being offered in our parishes. St. Jerome reminded us that “ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ” so we want to do all that we can to become more familiar with God’s word.

A secondary, but always secure, point of reference in determining our path is our Blessed Mother. In this month of September, we not only celebrate her birthday (Sept. 8), but we also commemorate her under the title Our Lady of Sorrows (Sept. 15), and celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Sept. 12). The Second Vatican Council reminds us that she is truly the model of the Church. Given by Jesus from the cross to John — and by extension to the Church — Mary serves for us as the model of what it means to be a disciple. How could we not be inspired by her humility, her obedience, her generosity, her fortitude?

In this year in which we mark the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearances at Fatima, we turn to her in a special way to lead us to her son, Jesus. On Oct. 13, the 100th anniversary of the “miracle of the sun” at Fatima, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, is going to be entrusting our nation to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. On that same evening here in our archdiocese, in the context of our annual rosary procession from our State Capitol to our Cathedral of St. Paul, we’ll be entrusting our archdiocese, and all of our endeavors, to Mary as well. We will be asking Mary to guide us in our legal proceedings, in our pastoral outreach to those who have been hurt in our Church, and in our efforts to pass on the faith to our young people, to support families, to serve and evangelize those on the peripheries, and to revitalize our Church. I invite you to join me that evening for the candlelight procession, rosary and devotions that will begin at the Capitol at 7 p.m. and conclude at the Cathedral.

With Jesus and Mary as our guideposts, may we journey joyfully along the path that has been chosen for us by our loving God.

Haciendo de Jesús nuestra guía

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Category: Only Jesus

  • Paula Ruddy

    Does the procession’s starting point at the State Capitol have significance or is it just a convenient place to start with relation to the Cathedral? I wonder what message we are conveying to our fellow citizens? Is the procession meant to be a unifying experience for Archdiocesan Catholics? Am I wrong in thinking that the answers to these questions are no longer self-evident to all Catholics?

  • Patty Thorsen

    How can we go beyond the ways we typically express ourselves as a body of Catholics in this Archdiocese, in a manner that conveys that we a part of a “catholic” church–a Univversal church, not just the Catholic Church? I am a member of the Catholic Church by conscious choosing. I do not know what the answer is. Using Jesus and Mary as guideposts is a starting point, an important one. Yet, I think we need to broaden how we express ourselves, and seek to spread joy. I pray we may seek to find more ways to be communally engaging as Catholics.

  • Paula Ruddy

    A friend helped me to see that I missed the point in my comment below. Sorry about that. She says the meaning of the rosary procession is a public prayer for guidance in our problem areas within our local church. She cites the Archbishop: “We will be asking Mary to guide us in our legal proceedings, in our pastoral outreach to those who have been hurt in our Church, and in our efforts to pass on the faith to our young people, to support families, to serve and evangelize those on the peripheries, and to revitalize our Church.” The message to other citizens is that we are committed to getting our act together. Then, next step, we can all sit down together and share the guidance in planning what to do about these and other problem areas. If the procession turned into a healing/re-commitment/ dialogue and strategic planning event, we could all get into it! Thanks, Archbishop Hebda.

  • Charles C.

    There is an additional guidepost, the teachings of the Church.

    By reading the Bible and thinking about how His thinking might be applied to our understanding of God, we risk becoming Protestant, with each member or local church deciding on their own what Jesus would want from us in circumstances not specifically addressed by His teaching.

    Jesus gave the job of “Feeding His sheep” to Peter, we ignore that at our peril.