My greetings to all for a blessed New Year!
We begin 2013 in the lingering joy of the Christmas season. While most holiday decorations have already been taken down, we as disciples of the Lord Jesus have two more Sundays in which to ponder how our whole lives have been radically transformed by the mystery of the Incarnation.
This Sunday the Catholic community will gather to celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. There are a number of themes that run through this liturgy to touch us in a personal way:
1) each person’s individual search or journey to find the Truth who is a person, Jesus Christ;
2) the coming together of faith and reason as those three men of science set out to discover the truth;
3) the divine epiphany or manifestation of the Word-made-flesh to all the nations, not just the Jewish nation. Jesus Christ is indeed that rising star who calls all of us to come into the light.
Next Sunday, the Church will celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, and so conclude our Christmas season. In the baptism of Christ, we find the first clear manifestation of the Blessed Trinity in the Gospels, the one God revealed in three persons — Father, Son and Spirit.
We are thus reminded on this important Sunday that, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, baptism is “the gateway to life in the Spirit” (CCC, 1213) and, indeed, the very life of God. Through those saving waters, we become children of the Father and members of Christ’s body, the Church. We are buried with Christ so as to be raised up to live a new life as a “new creature” (CCC, 1214).
The “newness” of the sacrament of baptism involves the forgiveness of both original and personal sin, while the consequences of sin, that is, the inclination to sin, remains. It is appropriate on this feast to consider the new life of God’s grace that we received and examine how faithful we have been to the avoidance of sin in our life.
Praying for unity
Jan. 18 will mark the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year’s theme is “What Does God Require of Us?” a quotation taken from the Book of Micah 6:6-8.
The prophet’s strong call for justice and peace contextualizes the search for Christian unity within the historic relationship of God’s interaction with humanity. We are called to ask ourselves what God requires of us within the movement toward full visible unity of the Church. Resources for promoting this theme may be found at the Vatican website (http://bit.ly/VCWhT2).
The Archdiocesan Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs together with the St. Paul Seminary have invited noted ecumenical scholar, Father Jared Wicks, SJ, to give the annual Christian Unity Lecture at the University of St. Thomas on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 7:30 p.m. I hope you will consider attending.
Praying for life
On Jan. 22, we will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, a tragic judicial fiat that legalized abortion on demand. Legal protection was denied on that day to the most vulnerable among us, our unborn children, and a devastating blow was dealt to the most fundamental human right, the right to life, without which all other rights are threatened.
Here in the archdiocese, an all-night vigil will be held on Jan. 21 at the St. Paul Seminary, beginning with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 7 p.m. and concluding with Benediction at 7 a.m. The sacrament of penance/reconciliation will be available from 8 p.m. to midnight.
On Jan. 22, the annual prayer service will be held at the Cathedral of St. Paul at 10:30 a.m., followed by a procession to the Capitol and a MCCL rally at noon.
I, myself, will accompany the seminarians and other pilgrims going to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life which this year will be held on Friday, Jan. 25, beginning with Holy Mass at noon.
Indeed, the New Year starts out with many varied, yet important, activities!
God bless you!