Terra Sancta Guild

Check out the Terra Sancta Guild website for an announcement from Bishop Gruss regarding the future of the Guild.

 

Proclaim truth with love through open and honest discussion

 

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 human dignity is threatened so is sacredness

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!

Terra Sancta Retreat Center — Chef & Event Staff

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.

Take an active part in praying for world peace

As we have all seen and heard in recent weeks, the many reports and scenes of war and violence,
especially in the Middle East, have filled the news. At this writing, the war between Israel and
Hamas rages on. Ceasefire agreements have born little fruit in regards to peace. Civilian
casualties, especially in Gaza, have been great.

We hear of the great religious persecutions of Christians in Mosul in Iraq and Aleppo in Syria, a
place where Christians in the Syro-Catholic and Chaldean Churches have been living for two
thousand years since the beginning of Christianity. The Islamic State extremist group (ISIS) has
given the Christians an ultimatum – convert to Islam and pay a tax or face death. The violence
continues in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainians and the Pro-Russian separatists, a conflict
that has claimed at least 1,129 civilian casualties, according to a United Nations estimate. The
violence in Nigeria continues where the jihadists of Boko Haram kill indiscriminately, Muslims
and Christians alike. And the list of serious problem areas goes on.

One may easily want to ask the question, “Will there ever be peace in the world?” It is question
that may not have an answer. But we can be certain that violence cannot be overcome with
violence. History has proven this time and time again. Peace will only happen when leaders on
both sides of the conflict truly desire peace and have the courage to come together seeking it.
Any peacemaking process is very difficult, but it is essential in building a just and lasting peace,
leading to a civil society, no matter where the conflict might be in the world. What can we do?
How can you and I participate in any peacemaking process?

Pope Francis has pleaded with political leaders “not to spare prayer or any effort to end every
hostility and seek the desired peace for the good of all.” He prayed, “May the God of peace arouse
in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with
violence. Violence is overcome with peace!”

The tragic situations mentioned above and others demand our prayer in solidarity with our
brothers and sister who are facing these horrendous situations around the world. They also demand our prayers for the conversion of the hearts of those who desire to perpetrate violence
and destroy human life.

I would ask our Catholic community, and all others concerned about these situations, to pray for
peace and to support diplomatic efforts aimed at dialogue and reconciliation. This can be done in
personal prayers and in the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass. But all of us must take an active part
in praying for peace. It is a small way in which we can participate in building just, peaceful and
civil societies around the world.

We should never underestimate the power of prayer. It is Christ’s peace for which we are asking.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do
not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” [John 14:27] As the Body of Christ, through prayer,
together we might help open our world to God’s gift of peace.

One of the great miracles involving prayer in the midst of conflict was the miracle that took
place at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571, between the Christians and the Muslims.
During the time of this battle, Pope Pius V, accompanied by many faithful, prayed the Rosary in
the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Throughout the whole day, prayers continued in Rome as
the battle continued. When it was all over, the Christians had soundly won the battle. Of some
270 Muslim ships, at least 200 were destroyed. The Turks also lost 30,000 men while Christian
casualties numbered between 4,000 and 5,000.

Perhaps we can all seek the assistance of Our Lady, Queen of Peace, praying that, through her
intercession, world leaders may find a peaceful resolution to these conflicts in our world. I
believe a daily Rosary for peace could have a great impact in bringing it about in our world
today. Prayer in numbers for what Christ desires always brings about results. Christ desires peace
in our world. He came to bring peace to a sinful world. Let us all pray for it. We cannot be
indifferent, but are called to stand in solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters.
In light of this, I would ask all pastors to encourage their parishioners to fast and pray for peace
in our world, to include petitions for peace in their Prayers of the Faithful at Mass, and to
celebrate a weekday Mass for peace weekly if possible. The suggested Mass setting could be For
Persecuted Christians, For the Preservation of Peace and Justice or In Time of War or Civil
Disturbance, all found in the New Roman Missal. This would be a beginning in praying for
peace in our world.

The Church has always empathized with the peoples’ suffering and has sought to defend human
rights and religious freedom around the world. It is who we are as a Catholic Church. Let us
continue to be who we are called to be so that our prayers might provide hope for those who live
in fear.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” [Mt 5:9]

The crusade for religious freedom needs to continue

“Freedom” has been a constant theme in our country in recent weeks. We celebrated Independence Day
a couple of weeks ago, giving thanks for the many freedoms we as Americans enjoy in this country. On
that very same day, the Fortnight for Freedom concluded: a two week period whereby attention was
drawn to our continuous fight for religion freedom, a freedom which the federal government has sought
to redefine for Catholics and Christians all across this country. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the
case involving Hobby Lobby and two other for-profit companies was very important in the ongoing
battle for religious freedom. The Supreme Court’s decision to recognize that Americans can continue to
follow and live their faith when operating a family owned business is a great victory for religious
freedom.

Without religious freedom, we cannot fulfill our duty as Christians. It is religious freedom that allows
committed Christians to live a life of true discipleship. When people are denied and hindered from
professing and living their religion or faith, human dignity is offended, resulting in a threat to justice and
peace. Faith plays a very important role for Catholics and all Americans who desire to work for the
common good of all as ordained by God. The freedom to practice one’s religion should not be limited to
a person’s home or place of worship. It extends into the public arena as well.

This decision for Hobby Lobby ensures that families who own and operate a private business will not be
required to leave their freedom behind as they walk through the door of their business. As was ruled in
this case, the Health and Human Services mandate coerces believers to act against deeply held religious
beliefs in violation of the U.S. Constitution, federal laws, and our long tradition of religious liberty. It
was unjust and unlawful. We applaud the Supreme Court’s decision. Justice has prevailed.

This decision was made, not from the standpoint of a First Amendment rights violation, but from the
standpoint that the HHS mandate violated rights guaranteed under the Religious Freedom Restoration
Act. It is a highly flexible legal standard that protects the rights and liberties of individuals of all
religious faiths who choose to enter into commercial activity, and the government does not have a free
hand in imposing obligations that substantially burden their exercise of religion. Written in the majority
opinion was “If the owners comply with the HHS mandate, they believe they will be facilitating
abortions, and if they do not comply, they will pay a very heavy price — as much as $1.3 million per
day, or about $475 million per year, in the case of one of the companies. If these consequences do not
amount to a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would.”No company should be compelled by the federal government to engage in conduct that so egregiously

violates one’s sincere religious belief that life begins at conception. To force the owners of a privately
held company or any individual to participate in the abortion process against their deeply held religious
beliefs by providing abortifacients is clearly in violation of conscience rights and religious freedom.
This was an important decision, but we cannot end our efforts to build a culture that fully respects
religious freedom. As the USCCB stated in its press release, “The Court clearly did not decide whether
the so-called ‘accommodation’ violates RFRA when applied to our charities, hospitals and schools, so
many of which have challenged it as a burden on their religious exercise. We continue to hope that these
great ministries of service, like the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others, will prevail in their
cases as well.”

The current administration, unfortunately, believes that the Supreme Court’s decision was wrong, and
how it will respond to this decision is yet unknown. As we know, the battle over religious freedom does
not end here. It is far from over.

Following this decision, a coalition of leaders of diverse U.S. religious denominations and faiths,
including Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,
sent a letter to Congressional leadership on June 30 asking that they “not amend or repeal the Religious
Freedom Restoration Act. Passed in 1993 with nearly unanimous bipartisan support, it is one of our
nation’s most vital legal protections for the religious freedom and rights of conscience for people of
every faith.”

As stated in their letter, “For over two decades, RFRA has protected Americans of all faiths from
government coercion. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, and others all benefit when
powerful government officials know that, as President Bill Clinton stated when he signed RFRA,
government must meet ‘a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone’s free exercise of
religion.’”
“Changing RFRA because some disagree with one particular application of the law would set a dark
precedent by undermining the fundamental principle of religious freedom for all, even for those whose
religious beliefs may be unpopular at the moment. Congress has never passed legislation with the
specific purpose of reducing Americans’ religious freedom. It should not consider doing so now.
Freedom of religion, like freedom of speech, must stand for all Americans, for all time.”
Though justice has prevailed in the Hobby Lobby decision, we must continue to fight on for this
important freedom through prayer, fasting, and speaking out in word and action. Religious freedom is
necessary for a good society. In fact, the future of our society depends upon it. Our Lady of Perpetual
Help, pray and intercede for us.

Religious freedom is a high priority

Religious freedom is on the minds of many Americans these days, especially as we await the final ruling from the United States Supreme Court on the Hobby Lobby lawsuit against the federal government. This lawsuit expresses Hobby Lobby’s opposition on religious grounds to the Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers to provide insurance coverage to their employees for contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs. The ruling on this case is expected by the end of the month.

More than three hundred plaintiffs in over ninety lawsuits have gone to court to challenge the mandate, and thankfully most are winning, arguing that no one should be forced by the government to violate his or her religious beliefs and conscience.

The issue of religious freedom remains a high priority for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The challenges to religious liberty in our country and in the rest of the world should be of grave concern to all of us. It is one of our nation’s most prized freedoms, yet it is coming under attack more and more around the world. There are many stories both here and abroad regarding how governments and public entities have denied individuals freedom to practice religion according to their conscience.

One important case involved the Little Sisters of the Poor, who received a temporary injunction last December against the crippling fines of one hundred dollars per day that they would begin to face on January 1, going well into the millions of dollars each year. This is a severe punishment for the nuns who care for the elderly and literally beg for donations in parishes and elsewhere to enable them to carry out their ministry. At issue wasn’t the contraception, but the right to live according to one’s conscience. This is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

A situation abroad involves a 27 year old Sudanese mother who gave birth to her second child. She is the wife of a naturalized American citizen from South Sudan. The woman is a condemned prisoner on death row sentenced to 100 lashes of the whip and then to death by hanging in two years. She is being accused of leaving the religion of Islam to become a Christian. Religious intolerance is becoming increasingly a problem worldwide, and we must speak out against it.

Here at home, the federal government is trying to define religion as simply a matter of what happens during the scheduled times each week in our churches, and is to be left there during the rest of the week. As stated by Archbishop William Lori, chair of the Catholic bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, “We in the Catholic Church have never seen such a distinction between what we do within the walls of a church and how we serve our neighbors. The faith by which we worship on Sunday is the very same faith by which we act in the world the other six days of the week.”
This should be a concern for all Americans and not just people of faith. Certainly many Americans do not agree with the teachings of our Catholic faith, but all Americans should have a concerned interest in the protection of all liberties granted by our Constitution.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, asks, “Do we really want the sort of civil society in which the consciences of the people are so easily swept aside by government action? If the federal government can force organizations and businesses to pave over their own consciences, to choose between being believers and being citizens, what will stop the government from imposing its will on your conscience next?”

The government has an essential duty to protect and promote the invi­olable rights of all people. In the Declaration on Religious Liberty we read, “The government has an obligation to assume the safeguard of the religious freedom of all its citizens, in an effective manner, by just laws and by other appro­priate means. Government is also to help create condi­tions favorable to the fostering of religious life, in order that the people may be truly enabled to exercise their religious rights and to fulfill their religious duties, and also in order that society itself may profit by the moral qualities of justice and peace which have their origin in men’s faithfulness to God and to His holy will.” (Declaration on Religious Liberty, Dignitatis Humanae, no. 6)

The current administration continues to violate this obligation by its coercive policies and actions. Therefore, we, as Catholics and citizens, must persist in making our voices heard. Pope Francis shares, “Defending religious liberty and making it available for everyone is everyone’s responsibility. Doing so guarantees the growth and development of the entire community.”

You can add your voice by joining a group of dedicated, peaceful protestors at the corner of 9th and Main Street from 4-5 p.m., each Friday. These men, women and children gather on that corner each week to pray for religious freedom. As a diocese, we will also celebrate for the third year the Fortnight for Freedom taking place from June 21 to July 4. The theme this year, “Freedom to Serve,” focuses on the freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable in accord with human dignity and the church’s teaching.

I would like to invite you to a formal presentation at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City on the evening of July 1 at 7 p.m. It is important that we all gather for this event to show our own personal concern and to learn more about what you can do to help in this fight for religious freedom. To practice our faith in the way Christ calls us is worth fighting for. Your voice and prayers will make a difference. Please come and join us! St. Thomas More, pray for us.

Unconditional love: A tribute to mothers

The middle of May is already here. It has been a long winter for most of us and any sustained warm
weather which facilitates the signs of spring and new life has been in hiding. Yet, there is much to
celebrate during this month.

This month of Mary and the rosary is filled with important days and events – May Day, Cinco de Mayo,
confirmations, first Communions, graduations, and of course, Mother’s Day. It is wonderful that we set
aside one day each year to honor our mothers in a very special way.

When I think back on the importance of my mother in my life, I can’t help but offer my thanks for all
that she did for me. Though she died much too early, at fifty years of age, my mother was a very strong
influence on my life. My father was on the road much of each week with his work, so my mother was
the one, who every day, offered her support, guidance, encouragement, and her love, to each one of her
children.

When I think of what she had to do, to raise five children born in the span of four years, one of whom
was a special needs child, her motherhood was heroic at times. Though not an outwardly deeply
religious person, she lived her vocation to motherhood in extraordinary ways. As I think back upon the
years, her love for her children always reflected the love of God. She cherished those whom God had
entrusted to her care.

Mothers have a tremendous impact on the lives of their children. A mother’s love helps shape the life of
each child, and through them, the culture is ultimately shaped. Because of the bond between mother and
child, a mother’s influence helps mold the child into who they will become. Most mothers realize the
importance of their love in the personal and emotional well-being of their children. There is also the
profound and long-lasting impact in the development of their children’s brains, teaching them the first
lessons of love, thereby shaping their consciences. The emotional foundation mothers and fathers give to
their children at home is foundational to their lives. The value of a quality home life and the power of a
mother’s love cannot be underestimated.

The humanity of Jesus reveals the many beautiful attributes acquired from his mother Mary. Jesus, in the
fullness of his humanity, was formed by the love of Mary and Joseph. His kindness, compassion and
love of others were instilled in him from the beginning through Mary and Joseph living out their
vocation as parents in the way they cared for and loved him. We could easily look at our Blessed Mother
as the model for all mothers and it is important that mothers ask her to assist them in their own
motherhood.As I reflect upon my life, I am very grateful for all that my mother taught me. I have become the person

I am today in large part due to my mother’s influence and her lessons. Though she did not live long
enough to see the road to which my path of life has taken me, I am sure that she would be proud, not just
of my life as a priest and a bishop, but because she was always proud of the accomplishments of all her
children.

My home life growing up wasn’t perfect, nor was it always peaceful, but my mother’s unconditional
love was what created that special bond between mother and son. What a life-long gift I received!
Thanks, Mom! That is why we celebrate Mother’s Day.

Though the celebration of Mother’s Day has passed, may we look at everyday as a time to honor and
give thanks to our mothers for their love and the many sacrifices which they have made or make daily
for each of us.

I pray for many blessing upon all mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers, stepmothers, and
Godmothers. Through the intercession of Mary, our Blessed Mother, may the love of Jesus, formed from
her heart and the heart of the Father, guide you in all love and be poured out upon your families.
There is no greater love!

What do you see as you peer into the empty tomb?

Then the other disciple also went in …. and he saw and believed. (Jn 20:8).

In this Easter account in John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene and Peter, as they peered into the empty tomb,
didn’t know what to make of it. The body of Jesus was gone. At this moment in Mary Magdalene’s life,
her heart is filled with emptiness. One can imagine what she was feeling as she thought the body of
Jesus had been stolen. The disciples weren’t anticipating the resurrection. This was not part of their
experience. As they pondered what they had seen — in the empty tomb — what were they supposed to
believe? The burial cloths were there, but the body was missing. There was an empty tomb.

Then the other disciple (John) also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and
believed. What made him assent to such faith? What was he able to see that the others were unable to
see? The _Scriptures do not reveal this, but for John, it was certainly a graced moment. The Risen Lord
had given him eyes to see beyond the present reality, allowing him to ascent to a new reality. Perhaps
John recalled the promise that Jesus had made to send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. But, “he saw and
believed.”

What do you see as you peer into the empty tomb? This Easter question is one which each of us must
answer. We cannot ignore it, dismiss it, or run away from it. Why? Because it calls for a response from
each of us. Each of us will answer this question in our own unique way, regardless of whether it is
verbally expressed. How we live our lives as disciples reveals our answer.

The empty tomb, I believe, is a bold proclamation of Christ’s victory over sin and death. The empty
tomb is our sharing in the gift of redemption and salvation. Our lives are greatly diminished apart from
the cross of Jesus Christ. Pope Francis alluded to this when he wrote, “the memory of the cross could be
called the domain of Christian existence.” Outside this domain, we are unable to determine properly
how to live our lives as we ought.

The cross of Jesus Christ has little value for us without the Resurrection. In God’s giving away of his
Son, his only and deepest desire was and is to have a relationship with those to whom he called as his
own — each and every one of us. This is at the heart of the sacrament of baptism. Those catechumens
who will come into the church at the Easter Vigil will experience the fulfillment of God’s desire, at least
outwardly, and hopefully, they will respond inwardly as well.

Jesus wants so much more for us

What a beautiful reality it would be if every Catholic in the Diocese of Rapid City came to experience
the deep, intimate love of our Lord Jesus. If this were to happen, our families, our culture, and our
society would be transformed into what God intended.

Father Pedro Arrupe, former Superior General of the Society of Jesus wrote, “Nothing is more practical
than finding God, that is, falling in love with God in a quite absolute way. What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the
morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who
you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love. Stay in
love. And it will decide everything.”

Isn’t the season of Lent a great time and season to fall in love with God? And isn’t this what the life of a
disciple is meant to be, a love relationship with God, our Father, who has given us everything; with
Jesus, our Savior who has given his life away for us; with the Holy Spirit the great consoler and healer?
I wonder how many are deeply in love with the Lord, where he is the focus of their whole life. I know
that God is deeply in love with each of us and desires us, more than we can possibly imagine.
Jean Corbon wrote in the The Wellspring of Worship, “The most fruitful activity of the human person is
to be able to receive God.” God created us for union. This is what the Eucharist is about — receiving the
deep love of God in Christ Jesus. It is he who offers us this abundant life. Jesus said, “I came so that you
might have life and have it more abundantly,” (John 10:10) and not “I came so that you may cope with
life.”

Are you really living this abundant life in Jesus Christ or just coping with life as it comes? Jesus wants
so much more for us. The answer? Eucharistic adoration.

The Catholic Church draws her very life from the Eucharist. As members of the body of Christ, we draw
our very life from the Eucharist, both at the eucharistic table and in prayer with Jesus before the Blessed
Sacrament. Whenever Jesus is present in his body and blood, then he is present to us — body, blood,
soul and divinity — his whole person. This is how we can continue to grow in our relationship with him
outside of Mass, spending quiet time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. This intimate prayer
continues to form this relationship of love. Jesus continues to form our hearts to make them like his own.
In the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II, “Our communal worship at Mass must go together with our
personal worship of Jesus in eucharistic adoration in order that our love may be complete.”Are not your deepest relationships with those with whom you speak frequently? Are not our deepest
relationships with those we see face to face frequently?

Jesus desires this time with each one of us so that he can speak to our hearts. He desires to see each one
of us face to face to share his love, his joy, his mercy, his healing, all that he is, in this quiet prayer
before him.

“How great is the value of conversation with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, for there is nothing more
consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road of holiness!” (Pope Paul
VI, Mysterium Fidei)

Since my arrival in Rapid City, I have longed for a parish that could provide perpetual eucharistic
adoration, allowing people a place that would be open twenty-four hours a day for this type of prayer. I
know how valuable it is for the life of every Catholic and every Catholic community. This union with
Jesus, which takes place at Mass, continues as we adore and worship him in the Blessed Sacrament. It is
a critical part of my spiritual life every day. If it is important, then we will make time for it.
Jesus says to each of us, “Come to me all of you who are weary and find life burdensome and I will
refresh you …” (Mt 11:28.). “Cast all of your anxieties upon the One who cares for you …” (1 Pt 5:7).
Perpetual eucharistic adoration at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help will begin after Easter.
More information will follow regarding how to sign up for a prayer time. I greatly encourage individuals
or families to sign up for some time with Jesus. It is a wonderful teaching moment for your children and
it will change your life.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta once remarked, “It was not until 1973, when we began our daily
Holy Hour that our community started to grow and blossom.”

A firm commitment to sign up for a particular time ensures that someone will always be there with
Jesus, and speaks volumes about one’s desire, one’s sacrifice, and one’s commitment to their
relationship with the Lord. Far greater fruit comes for one who commits daily or weekly to this hour
encounter with Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament. But remember, the Evil One will try to keep you
away. For those who commit themselves to this type of prayer, these things will happen:
You will fall in love with Jesus in a new way.

Your life will change dramatically — you will experience that life in abundance.
God will expand your heart for great things.

You will come to see yourself in a new way.

You will hunger and thirst more for holiness — and God will satisfy this thirst.
This will positively impact all the relationships around you.Your life will never be the same. You will be happier and more peaceful than you have ever been. You will receive deep healing in your heart as you share your heart with the Lord.God will bless you, your family, your parish community, and our diocesan community.

Guaranteed!

How could anyone say, “No” to this!