Enjoy our December edition of the West River Catholic!
So many of us, or at least those near my age and older, have had the experience of being taught in Catholic schools by members of religious orders or congregations. The women and men religious have had a very profound impact in the life of the Catholic Church all throughout her history. In fact, their unique contribution to the church since apostolic times has helped form the church and Catholic Institutions into what they are today. The church is eternally grateful.
One doesn’t have to look far to see the impact these women and men have made in the Diocese of Rapid City throughout our history. The religious communities who are currently serving our diocese include Jesuits Fathers and Brothers, Sacred Heart Fathers, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Benedictine Sisters of St. Martin Monastery, School Sisters of Notre Dame, the Congregation of Notre Dame, Franciscan Sisters, Dominican Sisters, and Sisters of Christian Charity. Many orders have served in the past, as well, including Redemptorists, Holy Cross Sisters, Marist Fathers and Brothers, Oblate Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, Sisters of St. Joseph, Sisters of the Living Word, Sisters of Mercy, Benedictine Fathers and Brothers, Benedictine Sisters from Yankton and Bismarck, Daughters of Charity, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sisters of the Living Word, Paraclete Fathers, Third Order Regular Franciscan Fathers, Xaverian Brothers, Sisters of the Divine Savior, Sacred Heart Brothers, and School Sisters of St. Francis.
Our diocese has been very blessed for the service and ministry provided by these women and men. Their unique and special form of Christian discipleship has always been a sign to the world of how they have been chosen to imitate Christ more closely through the profession of the evangelical counsels — chastity, poverty, and obedience. These religious men and women in consecrated life, men and women who are part of secular institutes, consecrated virgins, and hermits give witness to the presence of Christ in the world as they bring his compassion and love to those in need, and their lives of prayer help sustain Christ’s mission in the world.
Almost 50 years following the Second Vatican Council’s decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life, Perfectae Caritatis, Pope Francis has convoked the Year for Consecrated Life with the aim of expressing the “beauty and preciousness of this unique form” of Christian discipleship. The Year for Consecrated Life began on November 30, the first Sunday of Advent, and concludes on February 2, 2016, World Day of Prayer of Consecrated Life.
In invoking this special Year, Pope Francis issued a challenge to consecrated men and women, inviting them to lives of courage, communion and joy. The Holy Father “wanted to dedicate the year 2015 to consecrated men and women of the whole church,” who have been called by the Lord “to a life (that is) closer to the God of Love, by means of evangelical councils.”
Pope Francis, on the occasion of this Year of Consecrated Life, will also grant plenary indulgences, with the customary conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) to all members of the institutes of consecrated life and other truly repentant faithful moved by a spirit of charity, again, starting from the first Sunday of Advent this year until February 2, 2016, the day of the closure of the Year of Consecrated Life. The indulgence may also be offered for departed souls in Purgatory.
Indulgences may be obtained:
sIn Rome, in participation in the international meetings and celebrations established in the calendar of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, and pious reflection on for a suitable period of time, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate approved form, and invocations of the Virgin Mary;
sIn all the particular churches, during the days devoted to consecrated life in the diocese, and during diocesan celebrations organized for the Year of Consecrated Life, by visiting the cathedral or another sacred place designated with the consent of the Ordinary of the place, or a convent church or oratory of a cloistered monastery, and publicly reciting the Liturgy of the Hours or through spending a suitable period of time of devout reflection, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate approved form, and pious invocations of the Virgin Mary.
Members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life who, on account of ill health or other serious reasons are prevented from visiting these sacred places, may nonetheless receive Plenary Indulgence if, completely detached from any type of sin and with the intention of being able to fulfill the three usual conditions as soon as possible, devoutly carry out the spiritual visit and offer their illness and the hardships of their life to God the merciful through Mary, with the addition of the prayers as above.
The Diocese of Rapid City will celebrate this Year of Consecrated Life in various ways. More information will be provided in the future. As we enter into the Year of Consecrated Life, please pray for all those who have made commitments to the consecrated life, and be sure to thank them for their generosity to the church. May they continue to be inspired by Jesus Christ, be led by the Holy Spirit to be a leaven in the world, and respond generously to God’s gift of their vocations.
On behalf of the whole diocese, I thank all of the men and women religious, consecrated virgins, and those who are part of secular institutes for your faithful witness to the joy of the Gospel. May God continue to bless your vocation abundantly!
Prayer for the Year of
O God, throughout the ages you have called women and men to pursue lives of perfect charity through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. During this Year of Consecrated Life, we give you thanks for these courageous witnesses of Faith and models of inspiration. Their pursuit of holy lives teaches us to make a more perfect offering of ourselves to you. Continue to enrich your Church by calling forth sons and daughters who, having found the pearl of great price, treasure the Kingdom of Heaven above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life And Vocations www.usccb.org/cclv or www.usccb.org
© 2014, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Logo courtesy of National Religious Vocation Conference. Used with permission.
Enjoy our November edition of the West River Catholic!
In a world filled with consumerism, materialism, and entitlement, do we really live the totality of our lives with a deep sense of gratitude? Do we spend time each and every day with the Lord in grateful contemplation? The Roman phil-osopher Cicero spoke of gratitude as not simply what we owe, but the way in which we should live. From his perspective, gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. In other words, a virtuous life is enveloped in how we live with a grateful heart. True gratitude keeps our eyes focused on the giver — God himself. God is ultimately the giver of all things. All belongs to God. All is gift.
This virtue of gratitude naturally flows from deep personal intimacy with Christ. It is far more than mere thankfulness. All that we have that is good has God’s stamp on it and is owned by God to be used in a God-given way. We will never be afraid of not having enough if we truly believe that, “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want” (Psalm 23).
The holiday season is on the near horizon. Many Americans will be in constant preparation mode over the next month-and-a-half. Each holiday is an opportunity to live gratefully. Thanksgiving Day is next week, a time to enjoy family gatherings, the presence of loved ones who have come home for a few days, and the rich food and drink that accompany this wonderful day. Each of us must reflect upon our many blessings, the great abundance that brings such richness to our lives, and the One who provides it all. A grateful heart always returns to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving, and never takes God’s generosity for granted.
Four weeks later, for most people, is the celebration of Christmas — Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, who became poor and humble to come among us. This celebration also affords us the opportunity to reflect upon our many blessings, the great abundance which brings such richness to our lives, and the One who has never been outdone in generosity.
But there is an important period of time in between these two celebrations called Advent. This season seems to get lost in a culture that exhibits the sights and sounds of Christmas, even prior to Thanksgiving, and is saturated with one of the greatest temptations of all, materialism. “Black Friday” is the epitome of this display of the saturation of materialism.
In a way, the season of Advent shines like the first moon on a cold, dark night. For many people it is barely noticeable. There is no waiting or anticipation for the moon to become full and its light to brighten the wintry sky. The progression from a first moon to a full moon goes unnoticed, much like the season of Advent.
How can we really celebrate the truest and deepest meaning of Christmas if we have not celebrated Advent? Can there be a real celebration of Christmas without a period of waiting, a period of joyful expectation, a period of grateful contemplation whereby the Lord prepares our hearts to receive God’s greatest gift to humanity anew?
Thomas Merton wrote, “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything he has given us. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference” (Thomas Merton: Thoughts in Solitude; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1958).
For a deeper meaning of Christmas to penetrate our longing hearts, time must be spent in preparation beyond the shopping, beyond the pre-Christmas parties, and beyond the tempting hustle and bustle of December. We must fight the battle with the local shopping centers or the Internet vendors. Perhaps the best way to approach the battle is to retreat, to withdraw into the quiet recognition of the “Love of God in everything,” so that there can be an “awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God.”
The season of Advent, celebrated quietly in gratitude, contemplating our Savior coming into a sinful world will transform us in ways we cannot imagine. Our anticipation of our Savior’s return in glory will manifest itself through our outward expressions of love as we welcome Christ in the stranger, the poor, the unloved, and the hopeless.
Most people sense a yearning to recover the basic meaning of Christmas. This yearning will be satisfied when we make a conscious choice to not allow an excessive consumerism mentality, one that measures love by purchases and limits celebration to spending, to become our focus. As Pope Francis noted in a homily, “If money and material things become the center of our lives, they seize us and make us slaves. Our life must be centered on what is essential, Jesus Christ. Everything else is secondary.”
May we all celebrate this Advent season as the church invites us, with great joy and thankfulness. In doing so, we will experience anew a deep sense of gratitude for the real presence of Christ among us, the profound mystery we call Christmas.
Advent peace and love to all.
Check out the Terra Sancta Guild website for an announcement from Bishop Gruss regarding the future of the Guild.
A few weeks ago I celebrated a Mass at the Cathedral for couples who were celebrating major anniversaries of marriage. This included couples who had been married for 25 years, 50 years or more, all the way up to 68 years of marriage. These couples are a great sign of what God has intended for married life. The relationship between these husbands and their wives truly reveal the love, commitment and dedication which Christ the Bridegroom has for the church, his bride.
The beautiful sign revealed through these couples is far different than the sign displayed by the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. As most of you have read or heard, the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision not to consider the current cases that strike down laws upholding marriage as between one man and one woman. Obviously, those who value marriage as God has intended it to be are greatly disappointed.
In a statement from the USCCB “The Supreme Court’s action fails to resolve immediately the injustice of marriage redefinition, and therefore should be of grave concern to our entire nation.”
The nation is very confused about what marriage truly is. Our Catholic teaching clearly defines marriage as a unique relationship that is and can only be between a man and a woman. It is the only institution, an institution that goes back to the history of mankind, which unites a wife and a husband together for life and unites them to any children created from their union. This truth not only presumes, but also supports the equal dignity of all people, especially of children whose right to a mother and a father deserves the utmost legal protection.
While greatly disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, I am very encouraged by State Attorney General Marty Jackley’s statement that South Dakota will continue to defend its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage despite a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear the issue, believing that marriage should be defined by South Dakota voters and not by the federal courts. But this “longstanding tradition” will now be tested in federal district court and likely the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals because of the challenge in federal court by six same-sex couples.
We do not have to look far to see that more and more of our culture is becoming accepting of the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex unions. This is not too surprising as individualism and autonomous living continue to become the norm in our society.
This is one of the important reasons why the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops which took place in Rome treated the topic, “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of the New Evangelization,” as important for the life of the church and the world. The growing divergence around the world between the values of marriage and the family as proposed by the church and the globally diversified social and cultural situations has caused much confusion and perhaps even dissent.
There is a need for greater integration of a “spirituality of the family” and moral teaching which would lead to a better understanding, even of the church’s magisterium, regarding the moral issues related to the family.
During the general discussions in the Second General Session of the Synod, it was stated, “Based on the premise that the family is the basic unit of human society, the cradle of gratuitous love, and that talking about the family and marriage implies education in fidelity, it was reiterated that the family constitutes the future of humanity and must be protected.”
The family should be a living expression of the Gospel. It was noted, “The Gospel must not be explained, but rather shown, and above all, the lay faithful must be involved in the proclamation of the Good News, demonstrating the missionary charism. Evangelization must not be a depersonalized theory, but must instead ensure that families themselves give concrete witness to the beauty and truth of the Gospel.”
It seems to me that our society is at a crossroads in understanding the truth about marriage and the importance of the family in society. Marriage today is looked at more as a way to self fulfillment. When something is valued only within the context of self fulfillment, it is bound to be detrimental to society as a whole and to the common good. It is contrary to God’s purpose for our lives.
One Synod Father stated, “It is necessary to transmit a vision of marriage that does not regard it as a destination, but rather as a path to a higher end, a road towards the growth of the person and of the couple, a source of strength and energy.”
If the true meaning of marriage and the family is going to endure, much education and conversion must happen. Faithful Catholics must lend their voices to the discussion. If we believe in the sacredness of the sacrament of marriage, then we have to fight for it in our society today, not giving up hope, but finding ways to proclaim the truth about marriage and the family.
Perhaps it begins in helping our young people see the gift and responsibility of marriage as it truly is — a permanent, faithful, and fruitful gift of self between a man and a woman. Proclaiming this truth with love through open and honest discussion can bear great fruit. But we all have to continue to work to strengthen and protect marriage and stand for justice for all, especially children, who are most affected by these non-traditional experimental relationships.
The work of this Extraordinary Synod of Bishops comes at a very important time in the church and the world. Let us all pray for its success, that it will bear great fruit for marriage and the future of humanity.
When you look in the mirror every morning when you are getting ready to meet the day, what do you see? Do you see a masterpiece? Do you see the masterpiece that God has created? If not, ask the Lord to give you eyes to see it, eyes to see who you really are.
“Each of us is a masterpiece of God’s creation.” This is the theme for this year’s Respect Life Month. Each October is always set aside by the Bishops of the United States as Respect Life Month, a time for all of us to reflect upon life issues and to particularly pray and promote greater respect for all human life.
The two most important principles of Catholic social teaching are the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person.
The foundational principle of all Catholic social teaching is the sanctity of human life. Catholics believe in an inherent dignity of the human person starting from conception and enduring through to natural death. We believe that human life must be valued infinitely above material possessions and anything else.
In looking at the dignity of the human person, this principle of Catholic social teaching states: “Being in the image of God, the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #357). As the years have gone by in fairly recent history, especially since Roe v. Wade when abortion became legal, the social order has led more and more to a disposable society. It seems that life is not sacred anymore. As the culture has become more secular over time, the sanctity of human life in all of its stages has been diminished. As individualism has become more prevalent, respect for human dignity has become increasingly threatened. When human dignity is threatened, the sacredness of human life is threatened. We must recapture this sacredness.
This will happen over time as we give witness, each in our own way, to the powerful and life-transforming love of Christ and to the respect and reverence that is due to each person as a “masterpiece of God’s creation.”
Our Holy Father has made this an important part of his pontificate. On the world stage, Pope Francis has revealed a deep tenderness towards humanity, especially the elderly, the imprisoned, those with disfiguring disabilities, the unborn and many others through his actions, his humility, his warmth and compassion. His examples of reaching out challenge all of us to see the human dignity of each and every person. In his 2013 Day of Life greeting Pope Francis said, “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”
The terrible violence in our cities around the world today, the horrific atrocities against Christians and others by ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorist groups, the many lives terminated through abortion and euthanasia, the execution of inmates by the state as a punishment for a crime, the sexual exploitation of children and women through sex trafficking — these examples among others result from a grave disrespect for the dignity of a human person and a lack of respect for human life.
The Lord invites us all to respond, not with anxiety or doubt, but with confident trust in and dependence upon God. But it begins with ourselves. If we never see ourselves as masterpieces of God’s creation, how will we ever see it in others? If we are to recapture the sacredness and dignity of human life, we must first seek Jesus in prayer and in the sacraments for our own sanctification. In doing so, we also ask for the grace to see ourselves and others as God sees us — as masterpieces of his creation. We must look at ourselves and others in light of this truth, treating all people with the reverence and respect that is due to them. We must foster community and solidarity with “the least among us.”
This is why Respect Life Month is so important. During the coming month of October it is imperative that we reflect on these and other life issues, spending time in prayer and reflection, seeking the Lord’s guidance in how we might be more visible instruments of Christ’s love in our society and our world, giving a voice to “the least among us,” those who do not have a voice.
If we want peace in our world, we must work for justice. If we want justice, we must respect human life in all its stages, from conception to its natural end. Then, and only then, will the kingdom of God be made present.
In the words of St. Paul, “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of justice, peace, and the joy that is given by the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ in this way pleases God and wins the esteem of men. Let us, then, make it our aim to work for peace and to strengthen one another” (Rom 14:17-1).
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us!
More than just a job, it’s a ministry!
If you’re interested in creating fabulous food in a Christ-centered environment, we invite you to apply for one of two positions as Chef at Terra Sancta Retreat Center. More detailed job description and application available on-line. Flexible schedule; event-driven hours; a reputation for excellent food and hospitality. Part-time (20-30 hours per week), non-benefitted positions with opportunity to become full-time based on increased business. Terra Sancta Retreat Center is owned and operated by the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City.
Join a great team at Terra Sancta Retreat Center and help provide hospitality to our many guests. The retreat center is seeking high energy people for Event Staff. Responsibilities include serving meals, room set-ups, cleaning and more. Hours each week will vary depending on retreat center needs. This is a part-time; non-benefitted position.
A complete job description and application form is available on-line at http://terrasancta.org/employment. If you have questions, please contact us at 605-716-0925.