January 29, 2016
As the month of January ends we bring to a close the Year of Consecrated Life called for by Our Holy Father Pope Francis in November 2014. We Catholics of the Diocese of Bismarck owe our profound praise and thanks to Almighty God for His gift of the consecrated life of men and women to the Church and especially, to our local Church of Bismarck. The steadfast, courageous and fruitful faith, hope and charity of the Benedictine Sisters and Benedictine Monks who formed the solid foundation of our diocese is well-known and remembered with great affection.
The consecrated life is of the very nature of the Catholic Church because, understood and lived properly, a man or woman who freely and without reservation commits oneself to Christ and His Church by the solemn and public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience lived in community, becomes an icon, a reflection of Christ Himself. Jesus, through His Church, accepts and approves this consecration in a way similar to His own consecration and approval by the Father and the Holy Spirit at the Jordan River. As with every true vocation and charism in the Church, if it is accepted and lived, it becomes a light shining in the darkness. It points to and is all about the Lord, inviting others to look to Him.
On Sunday, Jan. 31, we celebrated the close of this beautiful year by gathering at the altar of the Lord in the Cathedral to renew and nourish ourselves at the holy sacrifice of the Mass. May we show our gratitude to God for the consecrated life by praying for all of our good and holy men and women religious; let us continue to pray for more vocations to the consecrated life among us.
The month of February begins with the annual observance of Catholic Schools Week. This is a time of year that has always been near and dear to my heart. Our Catholic schools are second to none and, in my opinion, there is no better place for parents to be assisted in their first duty to educate their children in the ways of our faith. During this week I plan to visit as many of our schools as possible. It is also the time when our high school students compete in the state “Know Your Faith” competition, which I enjoy very much and, as in past years, I will be present at Bishop Ryan High School for the competition and to ask the championship question. Please join me in thanking our parents, our school administrators, our faculties and staffs for their excellent work and devotion to our children and young people.
Finally, Wednesday, Feb. 10 is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the great penitential season of Lent. Be resolved in this Year of Mercy to participate at Holy Mass daily, if possible, and to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Remember, these two sacraments are the hinges to the Door of Mercy, open for you to receive Jesus and for Him to embrace you.