Please continue to pray for me as I will for you. May the Lord send you a new bishop worthy of your love! God bless you all!
“Once you understand the Eucharist, you can never leave the Church. Not because the Church won’t let you, but because your heart won’t let you.”
We just recently celebrated the greatest event in human history — the depth of the Father’s love for us in the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In giving away his Son, the Father’s only and deepest desire was and is to have a relationship with those whom he has called his own — each and every one of us.
As the mystical body of Christ, in our Catholic communities, each week we gather to experience this reality in the celebration of the most holy Eucharist. Far from being merely an event that we attend, it is here, in this sacramental moment, where each of us is drawn into this great mystery of love.
In order to draw us more deeply into this mystery, I have called for a Holy Year of the Eucharist in the Diocese of Rapid City. Unlike recent holy years, such as the Year of Faith and the Year of Mercy, this was not initiated by the Holy Father for the Church around the world. It is intended to invite each of us in western South Dakota to a deeper experience of encounter with Christ.
Because sin has entered into the world, humanity has fallen far from God’s graces, keeping us from that original holiness and thus subjecting us to “eternal” death. Our Catholic faith proclaims a “good news” and gives us an answer of hope that death does not have the last word. God’s compassion toward us and his mercy are infinite. “But God has proved his love for us. While we were still sinners Christ was sent into the world by the Father to die for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath (Rom 5:8-9).”
Through his death on the Cross, Jesus presented to the Father in heaven his perfect homage and obedience as reparation for humanity’s disobedience and sin. Jesus offered himself on the Cross for each of us, fulfilling his own words, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). Christ’s complete act of charity towards humanity allows us the opportunity to re-establish an authentic relationship with God and grow towards that original holiness.
This saving action of Jesus Christ is re-presented each time the Eucharist is celebrated. “It is Christ himself, the eternal priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priest, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.”
The Church fathers of the Second Vatican Council proclaimed that the Eucharistic sacrifice is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” The Church draws her very life from the Eucharist. The other sacraments and all the works of the Church flow from and are directed toward this great mystery.
The Church’s mission, our mission, flows from the mission of Christ: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21). From the Eucharist, the Church draws her spiritual power and then is sent on mission to “go therefore and make disciples” (Mt 28-19). The Eucharist comes to be “both the source and the summit of all evangelization, since its goal is the communion of mankind with Christ and in him with the Father and the Holy Spirit.”
Our union with Christ in the Eucharist, both a gift and grace, makes it possible for us, in him, to embrace fully his mission of love and mercy. When we come to understand this great mystery celebrated in the Eucharist and participate fully each time we gather, our lives will never be the same. We come to understand more deeply the Father’s love for us in Christ Jesus. Our desire for spiritual union with the Lord deepens. Our own sacrificial love intensifies and expands. Our aspiration to serve the Lord grows. These are the very fruits of our holy Communion.
Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought of how the Lord Jesus desires to bring us, individually and communally, deeper into this love relationship. When we deeply encounter Love, we are transformed by it, and become like the Lover.
As shepherd of the Diocese of Rapid City, I long to help others come to know and experience Jesus in a more personal and life-changing way, especially through the celebration of the Sunday Mass.
Over the past many years, there has been a decline in Mass attendance around the world. Half of all baptized Catholics in the United States who have left the Church now declare no church affiliation. Every family knows of people who no longer regularly attend Mass or have fallen away from the Church altogether. Perhaps it is because they have no clear understanding of the Eucharist, the Church’s greatest treasure. Or perhaps they came to Mass but did not give themselves over to this beautiful encounter with Love.
If not attended to, our faith can “become like smoldering cinders or embers — weakened by sin and secularism. It must be reawakened, fanned into flame. We must help Christians to encounter once again, this Jesus, especially those who have left the Church.” The Year of the Eucharist is meant to help awaken the hearts of all Catholics across the Diocese of Rapid City, deepening the desire for Jesus in all of us. Celebrating this Year of the Eucharist is meant to help us come to a deeper understanding, appreciation, and experience of the Church’s greatest treasure.
This Holy Year of the Eucharist will commence on Sunday, June 23, 2019, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, and will conclude on that same Solemnity, Sunday, June 14, 2020.
Over the course of this year, the focus of the spiritual life of the diocese will be oriented towards the importance of the holy Eucharist in our lives as Catholics. All adult and youth religious education will give attention to some aspect of the Holy Eucharist — the Mass, its meaning and importance; Eucharistic Adoration; etc. Materials have been prepared for use in all parishes to help the faithful come to a deeper understanding and experience of this great gift so that the Eucharist will always be held in highest honor, received devoutly and frequently, and worshiped with supreme adoration. These materials will also assist pastors in carrying out their responsibility to teach the faithful diligently about this area of sacramental life.
By giving the Eucharist the prominence it deserves, we will show that we are attentive to the importance of the greatness of this gift Jesus left us. Over the course of this year, we will recall in more intentional ways the central event of history of our Catholic faith — Christ offering himself on the cross, the acceptable sacrifice which is made present each and every time the holy Eucharist is celebrated. This is at the heart of the Gospel and the living
Tradition of the Church. Christ has promised to be with us always (Mt 28:20), and he is to be known, loved and imitated. The holy Eucharist brings us into communion with him, enabling us to live with him in the life of the Trinity, and to not only be transformed by this love, but, with him, to transform the world through our lives made holy by this union.
We must remember that we are never alone because through the humble signs of bread and wine, changed into his body and blood, Christ walks beside us as our food for the journey, strengthening us to become, for everyone, witnesses of love and hope for the world.
As we begin the Year of the Eucharist, let us not forget Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. We ask her to intercede for us and assist us in meeting her Son in the Eucharist. Every time we approach Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we turn to her who received the lifeless body of her son, and so received Christ’s sacrifice for the whole Church. In her, the world is renewed in Christ’s love. Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, pray for us.
Given in Rapid City, on 27 April, the Vigil of the Second Sunday of Easter, or the Sunday of Divine Mercy, in the year of our Lord 2019, the eighth year of my Episcopacy.
+Most Rev. Robert D. Gruss
Bishop of Rapid City
Video of text read by Bishop Gruss:
The Diocese of Rapid City is working on creating a new pastoral center in the Black Hills Federal Credit Union building on Main Street in Rapid City. The credit union is selling this building and will move into a new facility across the street in a couple months. (WRC photo)
The Living the Mission Campaign is moving into full swing. The pilot phase has been successfully completed and the parishes in block one are fully engaged in the process. I am not only pleased, but deeply grateful for the generosity that I have seen thus far in the campaign. It speaks of peoples’ holy desire to live the mission of Jesus Christ, helping the diocese to move forward with what has been laid out in the Diocesan Priority Plan beginning in 2015. It is my hope that we are well on our way to a very successful campaign.
I would like to take the opportunity to update you on a very important priority for the Diocese of Rapid City. It too, was a key priority outlined in the Diocesan Priority Plan — a new pastoral center to include not only the chancery (offices of the bishop, diocesan administration and the archives) but also the offices of the personnel who provide pastoral ministry throughout the diocese. Before I do so, let’s look back for a moment.
As we recall, phase two of the We Walk By Faith appeal had originally planned for the renovation of space at Terra Sancta to be used for all of our diocesan offices. Due to lack of space at the main chancery located next to the cathedral, several departments were moved to the Terra Sancta Retreat Center on the northwest side of Rapid City — not the most ideal situation. The archives and the offices of our ministries including Faith Formation, Family Life Ministries, Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Stewardship, Vocations, the Marriage Tribunal, and Native American Ministry, are all currently located at Terra Sancta. Because of the overwhelming success of the Terra Sancta Retreat Center and the increase in diocesan staff, the retreat center is no longer a viable option as a new home for our diocesan offices. Our staff has almost doubled in the seven and a half years that I have been here.
Currently, my staff is spread across three buildings in two locations. At the main Chancery located near the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, we have some staff using space that was originally intended as a closet and file room. We also have staff who work different days each week in order to share a desk and shelf space. We have a very limited number of conference rooms which must be shared by many departments and 40 staff people. The longer these types of issues persist, the more difficult and costly it will be to address.
It has always been my desire to have a new pastoral center that will meet current and future needs more centrally located in Rapid City as a matter of convenience for the people we serve, at least locally. We have been quietly looking for a building that would provide adequate space for a couple of years. When we completed the facility master plan for the Terra Sancta campus a year and a half ago, we included a new pastoral center to be built there because we
already owned the land.
Last February, we became aware that the Black Hills Federal Credit Union building at 225 Main Street was coming on the market in the near future. We toured the building and began a conversation with the owners about the possibility of purchasing it. At the same time we had our architect look at it to determine if the facility had adequate space based on our initial plan for a new pastoral center on the Terra Sancta campus. We also had an appraisal and
inspection completed to assist us in determining if this could be a possibility for a new pastoral center.
My own excitement grew as I thought of the possibility of having the presence of the Catholic Church in downtown Rapid City. What a blessing that would be!
Over the course of the past ten months, we have been in negotiations with Black Hills Federal Credit Union to purchase this building. After a renovation process, it would provide enough office space to meet our current and future needs, allowing all of our staff to be together under one roof as well as ample parking for chancery staff and visitors — not to mention that the downtown location will give the diocese a very public face in our community.
I am very happy to say that we have recently signed a purchase agreement to acquire the building and the parking lots surrounding the Credit Union. We have agreed upon a four million dollar purchase price and could take possession in late February or March,
depending upon how soon Black Hills Federal Credit Union is able to vacate the building and move into their new building across the street. With the remodeling necessary to accommodate the unique features and space requirements of a pastoral center, we believe that this option will cost $1-1.5 million less than a new building. The renovation process could take ten to twelve months.
We have been in our current location since 1975, serving the needs of the diocese from there for approximately 44 years. Like most families, most companies move multiple times in a 44 year history. I believe this new pastoral center will serve the needs of the Diocese of Rapid City for many, many years to come and also allow us to be the face of Christ to those we serve in the heart of Rapid City! That is the true blessing!
“All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, my two front teeth, just my two front teeth. Gee, if I could only have my two front teeth, then I could wish you Merry Christmas.”
I would suspect that this little catchy tune would be familiar, at least to people my age. I clearly remember singing this as a little boy. Perhaps it may have been because I didn’t have two front teeth at the time. I don’t recall for sure.
This time of the year, as kids, we would also scour the JCPenney and Sears catalogs for what we really wanted for Christmas — making a list, checking it twice and then turning it over to our parents with the hopes that some of these dreams might come true. This was the season of Advent for us — preparing for the celebration of Christmas. I would suspect that it is what most children have done, at least back then.
We are only about a week from Christmas. How have we spent this season getting in touch with our true hopes, our dreams and desires that only the Lord can fulfill? What have we been letting the Lord do with us during this Advent season? Now that we are this close, what do we really want for Christmas? For most of us, we don’t need more material things. They just become luxuries — things that possess us — not to mention obstacles to a deeper faith and freedom. We don’t need things that bolster the consumeristic and materialistic culture. It is a shallow life!
My Christmas gift list is long. I want a deeper life in Christ. In other words, the “more” that he desires to give me. For Christmas I want Jesus to always be my deepest desire. I want a faith that can move mountains, literally. I want Christ’s message of love and peace, mercy and hope to penetrate my own heart and the hearts of all the people across the diocese entrusted to my care.
For Christmas, I want a new and purified church — one of openness, honesty, accountability and transparency. I want deep healing for all victims of sexual abuse, especially those harmed by clergy, that they will experience the healing love of Christ.
I want our young people to seek and discover the Lord’s vocation for their lives, leading to more priests and women religious in our diocese, but ultimately, leading to true happiness.
I want the Father to give this diocese a new Pentecost where the Holy Spirit enkindles the fire of his love anew in the hearts of all people of faith.
I want the New Evangelization to come alive so that our efforts will attract and form intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly and lovingly proclaim and live the mission of Jesus Christ, leading to eternal life.
For Christmas, I want the many, many Catholics who have left the church to return and be welcomed into the Father’s arms of mercy and love.
I desire a world filled with peace, where all strangers are welcomed and the life of each person is not only valued, but treasured; where respect and civility in our public and private discourse is the rule of the day; where religious freedom is completely restored as God meant it to be.
What a Christmas list! There’s more! The list could easily go on. People of faith know in the depth of their hearts that, in the end, the first Christmas has become the answer.
Christmas is the celebration of God coming into the world in his incarnate Son so that we no longer have to let the things of this world possess us. Christmas is God’s entrance into human history in a tangible way so that we can be possessed by him. When we fully embrace the meaning of Christmas, God becoming man restores the proper order of our human desires, and the world is transformed back into its original condition. The world becomes as it was meant to be. We become as we have been created to be. Our eyes are opened to God’s view of reality. What a gift for which to pray!
When this happens, we will love like Christ; we will bring peace to the world like Christ; differences will be reconciled; the suffering and lowly will be raised up; and a world divided by sin and death will be restored by hope and resurrection. What a gift for which to pray!
In the words of Pope Benedict, “Christmas has become the feast of gifts in imitation of God who has given himself to us. Let us allow our heart, our soul, and our mind to be touched by this fact!”
Let us all put this on our Christmas gift list this year and pray that our hearts will be open to receive it. Be assured of my prayers for you and your families. May your Christmas be filled with every grace and blessing!
Imagine providing a solution to the serious homelessness problem in Rapid City — helping homeless individuals and homeless families improve their quality of life, setting them up for success and long term stability. Shouldn’t that be the goal of every community which care about all of its citizens?
There is an initiative currently in progress in Rapid City to address this serious problem in our community. I do not know if everyone in our Catholic community is aware of this important initiative. This initiative is the work of the Rapid City Collective Impact, as stated on their website, “a community-supported initiative involving members of local government, nonprofits, faith-based communities, businesses, grass roots citizens and a backbone organization who share the common goal of improving quality of life in Rapid City. RCCI is a program of the Black Hills Area Community Foundation.”
Their work focuses on three priorities —food security, behavioral health and affordable housing/homelessness — by creating a campus that would serve homeless by providing transitional housing and connected services in one location. The campus, known as One Heart: A Place for Hope & Healing, will encompass the majority of the former National American University properties, spanning much of the 100 to 300 blocks along the south side of Kansas City Street. It will neighbor and complement Pennington County’s Community Restoration Center.
The mission of this transformation campus is to elevate the human spirit and the spirit of the Rapid City community, improving quality of life for all who live in Rapid City and “to make Rapid City the most caring community of its size.”
What follows appeared recently as an op-ed in the Rapid City Journal in support for this important initiative in our local community.
Our Obligation to the Homeless
What is the responsibility of the Christian community in response to the Gospel call to serve the least among us — the most vulnerable and often neglected?
Throughout the pages of the New Testament, we find a consistent response to the poor. The health and holiness of Christian communities rested on their willingness to aid those in need, adhering to the teachings of the Christian church about the right use of material goods. The “community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common,” (Acts 4:32).
St. Paul was always mindful of the obligation to serve the poor. He clearly stated that disciples should participate in God’s generosity by offering relief for Jerusalem Christians, (Rom 15:25-27, 1 Cor 16:1-4, and 2 Cor 8-9).
The clearest call comes from Jesus himself in chapter 25 of St. Matthew’s Gospel. “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs? Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me,” (Mt 25:45). Perhaps this clarion call will be the final exam we face on this side of life.
It is easy to look at homelessness in Rapid City as someone else’s problem — the city, county or faith communities. This is a complex, largescale social problem which presents many challenges for those who seek solutions. No one organization can solve it singlehandedly. As a Christian community, we have an opportunity to stand strong, city-wide, to provide innovative, effective, comprehensive, local solutions.
I believe that the Rapid City Collective Impact is an important initiative for meeting these challenges directly. The initiative addresses three priorities: food security, behavioral health and affordable housing/homelessness. This community-supported initiative can be instrumental in improving the quality of life and building a more caring community.
When we invest in the most vulnerable of our community in a responsible way, we will achieve long-term financial savings for our local government and, at the same time, provide comprehensive services to our most vulnerable in a more humanitarian way, thus upholding their God-given human dignity. Consolidating services would also allow precious resources to be more efficiently utilized, thus practicing good stewardship.
I support the proposed transformation campus – ONE HEART. One location where the community could provide transitional housing and many other needed services for our homeless would be a valuable asset, not only for those among us in need of such services, but for our community itself. It is clear that when people beaten down by circumstances in life are given a chance and the necessary resources to turn their lives in a new direction, inspiring things happen. They discover their own dignity in a new way and grow in the confidence that they can become the persons whom God has created them to be.
I recall the challenging words of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, whose aim was to live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ, bringing hospitality to those on the margins of society – “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love least.”
I am deeply grateful for the business leaders whose leadership and support have led the way to bring this vision to life. Now Rapid City is graced with a great opportunity, from which we cannot turn away. Let us band together as a community and show compassion in a way that leads to a better quality of life for the least among us — the most vulnerable and often neglected.
Most Reverend Robert D. Gruss
Bishop of the Catholic
Diocese of Rapid City
The sexual abuse crisis in the Church has been made far more horrendous by some bishops, who by their actions or their failures to act, have caused great harm to both individuals and the Church as a whole. The abuse of their power and authority to manipulate and sexually abuse others has caused devastating harm. The fear of scandal replaced honest concern and care for those who have been victimized by abusers. Again, we seek forgiveness from both the Lord Jesus and those who have been harmed in any way by these actions.
As a beginning step, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in the aftermath of this scandal has undertaken some important initiatives to address the situation and its root causes. We must all continue to pray for healing in our Church, in particular for those who have been personally victimized. Be assured of my continued prayers for healing.
Over the course of the past few weeks, parishioners from across the diocese have questioned me regarding the extent of this issue in this diocese — if clergy sexual abuse is still happening in the Church, and what happens when an allegation becomes known. I thought that I would address some of these questions and share the good news of what the Diocese of Rapid City has been doing to protect our children and young people.
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice completed a comprehensive research investigation focusing on the causes and context of clergy sexual abuse in the American Roman Catholic Church between 1950 and 2010. Released in 2011, this was the second of two studies done, and it reported that the vast majority of abuse cases occurred from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. Ninety-four percent of all cases occurred before 1990 and seventy percent of clergy offenders were ordained as priests before 1970. They concluded that these numbers, as well as the style and type of abuse, were fairly consistent with other large organizations (i.e., public schools, boy scouts, etc.) with men who had unsupervised and unlimited access to minors during the last half century and most especially during the 1960s and 1970s.
I share this, not to denigrate the gravity of this issue in the Church, but to put it into a historical context. One could get the sense from the media’s reporting about the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report that wide-spread clergy sexual abuse is still happening across this country. This is simply not the case, even though we are deeply saddened by a recent allegation in our own diocese. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, was established by the USCCB in June 2002. This Charter includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing and accountability, as well as supporting survivors and the prevention of further acts of abuse in the American Catholic Church.
Since the implementation of the Charter, the Catholic Church in America has done more in seeking to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults than any other institution, public or private. In fact, beginning in the 1990s, the bishops of the Diocese of Rapid City have implemented zero tolerance policies toward any instance of sexual abuse of children and young people.
The Diocese of Rapid City adheres to the following procedures regarding the handling of any reports of allegations of sexual misconduct.
Any allegation involving a minor or vulnerable adult is taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. Allegations are referred to civil authorities.
The diocese has a policy dealing with sexual misconduct, as well as codes of conduct, for priests, deacons, lay employees, volunteers and youth activity participants.
The diocese has an independent review board made up of one priest and several lay people who make recommendations to the bishop regarding the credibility of allegations. They review every allegation that is made.
All clergy, seminarians, diocesan employees and volunteers who work with children and vulnerable adults undergo background checks every five years.
All clergy, seminarians, diocesan employees and all volunteers working for the Church are required to participate in safe environment training and recurrent training every five years. Over the past years, 2817 clergy, seminarians, diocesan employees and volunteers have participated in the safe environment training.
All children involved in our Catholic schools and all children involved in parish religious formation programs are taught to recognize, resist and report abuse of any kind. This training takes place yearly. On average, over the past five years 3836 children have gone through the safe environment training each year.
The diocese is audited annually by an independent company to ensure proper training and safeguards are in place and followed. We have been in compliance since the audits began.
I will ensure that the diocese remains vigilant and transparent in fulfilling its policies and procedures regarding reported sexual misconduct. In all of this, we must also never lose sight of those victim-survivors who have suffered because people in positions in power and authority have failed to act as the Gospel demands.
For survivors of sexual abuse, these days in the Church may re-open deep wounds. Support is available from the Church and within our communities. Anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct by a bishop, priest, deacon or lay person working for or volunteering for the Church is invited to contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator by calling 605-209-3418 for assistance and compassionate care.
To anyone who has been abused, if you don’t feel comfortable for any reason with the Church providing help, never hesitate to also contact local law enforcement.
With compassion and without judgement, the bishops of the United States pledge to heal and protect with all of the strength God provides us.
As we seek to address the crisis in the Catholic Church, the pain and confusion of this moment in her history is palpable. I have received many letters, both of support and challenge. I appreciate the lay faithful expressing their feelings and concerns. The pain and suffering goes far and wide. In the midst of this public scandal, many victims of sexual abuse by clergy will have to relive the abhorrent experiences again. As a church, as the body of Christ, it is important to keep them deeply in our prayers. “When one member of the Body suffers, the whole Body suffers,” (1 Cor 12:26). Most importantly our prayers are needed at this time.
Published reports about these criminal allegations and the lack of appropriate response by some bishops over many decades are deeply disturbing. The betrayal by church leaders runs deep in the hearts of victims and faithful Catholics, and rightfully so. These horrific actions bring deep sadness and shame to all of us who love the church so dearly, in particular the faithful bishops and priests who seek to live their priesthood with faithfulness and integrity. My sincere apologies and prayers go out to all victims and their families — anyone who has been affected by this scandal.
Where must we go from here? Throughout her history the church has faced many challenges, many crises. Each time she has had to look inwardly at her own weaknesses and flaws. This is nothing new, painful as it is. It has been painful each time it has occurred in the church’s history. It is very painful today for us who are living through this time in her history. This may be the greatest crisis the American Catholic Church has had to face throughout her history.
As I wrote in my last statement, because further questions have arisen in the released testimony from the former Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, making serious allegations about the Archbishop McCarrick abuse case, I join my voice with Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Executive Committee in calling for the Holy See to conduct a thorough investigation that includes granting authority to a lay commission to examine the many questions that surround the case of Archbishop McCarrick.
As Cardinal DiNardo said on August 27, “The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past.” A thorough investigation is necessary, one that is credible and done with the utmost transparency. The “truth” must be found. The only way through this is openness and honesty — that lead to effective reforms. Jesus assures us “the truth will set us free.” We shouldn’t fear anything. Truthfulness and transparency will lead to the path of purification and reform.
Perhaps right now, many Catholics may feel compelled to leave the church because of the scandal. Without denying this reality, I urge those who are considering this response to prayerfully reconsider, lest they fall into the desires of the Evil One. A better response is for each of us to renew our commitment to seek holiness in our lives, trusting that Jesus is intimately with us this moment.
Pope Francis, in Gaudete et Exultate, said that “Holiness is the face of the Church.” This “face” is not so pretty at this moment. We must remember that this “holiness” is meant for everyone. We are all called to seek holiness every day and to live a life of faith — courageously and with integrity, as beacons of light and hope, personally, in our families, in our parishes and in our communities. This then, allows the world to see the true face of the church.
As Catholics, we believe that Christ has not and will not abandon his church. He promised to be with us always — and he is living with us through this crisis. He looks out over his beloved Bride, the church, and weeps with us. But we live in faith and hope that Jesus, as we surrender ourselves to him, keeping our gaze upon this “crucified One,” will lead us to a new place where the Gospel can be preached and lived with faithfulness and love, thus bearing new life in the world.
The sanctity of the church rests in Christ himself. I believe that Jesus is very present; he is fighting this spiritual battle with Satan. Perhaps that is why all of this is coming to light. “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed” (Jn 3:20). Perhaps Jesus has forced these things into the light. Only when things come into the light can he heal them.
The weakness of the church, a human church, can be transformed through Christ — and through prayer and repentance. This is something all of us can do and should do for the sake of our Bride, the church — for her healing. Our fasting and prayer can lead to healing, to purification, and to the necessary reforms.
The church is holy to the extent that her members are holy. The church’s conformity to Christ is complete only to the extent that her members are conformed to Christ. Each of us, as disciples of Jesus, are called to help lead the church through the challenges, through the sinfulness of our culture, to become more fully the church that Jesus Christ established.
In response to this, I invited all priests of the diocese to join me in offering a Mass on September 14, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, and/or September 15, the
Memorial of our Lady of Sorrows, in each of their parishes in reparation for the sins of priests and bishops. During this Mass all victims — children and adults — who have suffered abuse at the hands of priests and bishops were lifted in prayer.
I have also encouraged my priests, and now all of you, to make Fridays for the next year a day of prayer and sacrifice for reparation for all priests and bishops who have so grievously wounded the body of Christ. Some suggestions might be:
- Pray the Mass on Friday for this intention if you are able.
- Pray a rosary or the Rosary of Our Lady of Sorrows.
- Pray the Litany for the Abuse Crisis each Friday for nine Fridays and then repeat.
- Offer a Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration on Friday.
Please consult your parish bulletins to find out what is being done in your parishes.
I also ask Our Lady, Our Mother of Mercy, to pour out her mercy upon our Church and our families, so that all victims may experience the healing love of her Son. We must never forget those who have been harmed by the church. May our prayers and sacrifices bring true healing, conversion and holiness to all.
In so many places in the Gospel, people who were sick and suffering were brought to Jesus, in hope of healing. Over and over again, Jesus touches them or they touch him. His healing love and mercy then become the source of new life for those who believed in his power. “Your faith has saved you,” he says over and over again.
Have you ever thought about the need for healing in your own life; that Jesus desires to give you that same new life? All of us are wounded in some way, wounded by many different experiences of life, wounded by hurtful events or uninvited traumas that happened in our childhood years from which we still feel the effects. We are left with inner wounds which cause emotional pain, and we try to manage our lives so that we get through each day with the least amount of suffering. Does this ring true in your life? Sometimes we are so good at managing life that simply to avoid pain has become our norm and we don’t know that life can be any different.
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly,” (Jn 10:10). This promise of Jesus may seem like just a dream to many people. But these words of Jesus from John’s Gospel reveal a gift that is offered to all of us. We know that he is not speaking of material abundance, but a deeper life in his love and mercy and healing. But how often do we ask for this gift? Or open our hearts to this gift?
In order to realize the need for inner healing, we must first identify the problem, those emotional wounds, so that we can then seek the healing Jesus wants to give us. Allow me to name a few common ones:
- A hurt that doesn’t seem to go away
- A tendency to become easily irritable with others, to lash out at others, even people who love you and have done you no harm
- Low tolerance and/or irrational expectations of others, expecting and demanding more from them than is reasonable
- Feelings of anger, hate, resentment, etc. that seem to “rise up” within you at the slightest offense from others
- Feelings of anger or resentment that are brought up by events from your past
- Difficulty in forgiving yourself and others, perhaps even God
- Difficulty in feeling loved, in seeing clearly and realizing the love of others and God in your life, as if a wall has been erected that blocks the flow of love into your life
- Becoming easily frustrated with others, with everyday tasks and responsibilities
- Feelings of hopelessness
These are just a few common emotional wounds that diminish the life Jesus desires for you.
How does one overcome these negative emotions to receive healing? 1) Believe that these things are not what defines you. What defines you is Christ’s love. 2) Believe that Jesus wants to heal you and give life in abundance. Remember Jesus’ words, “Your faith has saved you.” You must have faith that he can and wants to do this.
Over the years I have come across many prayers that have helped me along the way – leading to a deeper life in abundance. Below are two prayers which have helped and which I pray daily with my morning Liturgy of the Hours. They have helped me. I hope and pray that they will help you and lead you to the healing you seek — and the promised life in abundance. They have come from the “Manual of Minor Exorcisms by Bishop Julian Porteous.”
Prayer for Protection and Deliverance
Heavenly Father, I praise and thank you for all you have given me. Please cover me with the protective, precious blood of your Son, Jesus Christ, and increase your Holy Spirit in me with His gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, hunger for prayer, guidance, and discernment to help me know your will and surrender to it more completely.
Father, please heal my negative emotions and any wounds in my heart and spirit. Send the sword of your Holy Spirit to sever and break all spells, curses, hexes, voodoo, and all negative genetic, inter-generational, and addictive material, past, present, or to come, known or unknown, against me, my relationships, and family, finances, and possessions.
Father, I forgive and I ask forgiveness for my sins and failings, and I ask that my whole person, body and mind, heart and will, soul and spirit, memory and emotions, attitudes and values be cleansed, renewed and protected by the most precious blood of your Son, Jesus.
In the name, power, blood, and authority of Jesus Christ I bind and break the power and effect in or around me of any and all evil spirits who are trying to harm me in any way and I command these spirits and their companion spirits in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to leave me peacefully and quietly and go immediately and directly to the Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ in the closest Catholic Church tabernacle, to be disposed of by Jesus and never again return to harm me.
Dear Holy Spirit, please fill up any void in me to overflowing with your great love. All this, Father, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ by the guidance of your Holy Spirit. Immaculate Heart of Mary, spouse of the Holy Spirit, please pray for me and with me. Amen.
— Manual of Minor Exorcisms by Bishop Julian Porteous
Prayer for Inner Healing
Lord Jesus, you came to heal our wounded and troubled hearts. I beg you to heal the torments that cause anxiety in my heart. I beg you, in a
particular way, to heal all who are the cause of sin. I beg you to come into my life and heal me of the psychological harms that struck me in my early years and from the injuries that they caused throughout my life.
Lord Jesus, you know my burdens. I lay them all on your Good Shepherd’s heart. I beseech you — by the merits of the great, open wound in your heart — to heal the small wounds that are mine. Heal the pain of my memories, so that nothing that has happened to me will cause me to remain in pain and anguish, filled with anxiety.
Heal, O Lord, all those wounds that have been the cause of all the evil that is rooted in my life. I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You who came to forgive the afflicted of heart, please, heal my own heart. Heal, my Lord Jesus, those intimate wounds that cause me physical illness. I offer you my heart. Accept it, Lord, purify it and give me the sentiments of Your Divine Heart. Help me to be meek and humble.
Heal me, O Lord, from any pain caused by the death of my loved ones, if it is oppressing me. Grant me to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that you are the Resurrection and the Life. Make me an authentic witness to your resurrection, your victory over sin and death, your living presence among us. Amen.
— Manual of Minor Exorcisms by Bishop Julian Porteous
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