December 26, 2014
Dakota Catholic Action
With the coming of the New Year of 2015, I wish to offer all of you my best wishes and fervent prayers for a holy and peace-filled time. Of course, there is no better way to begin a new calendar than by celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on January 1. It is Our Blessed Lady, the Mother of God and Mother of the Church, of all of the faithful, who continues to show us the face of her Divine Son. She is the model for us of true discipleship. She has what we should be living in faith and hope to have, that is, heaven. She is the one to whom we can always turn for help in every circumstance of our lives. As I said, there is no better way to begin a new calendar year than by celebrating and dedicating it to Our Blessed Mother. Please make certain you participate at Mass on New Year’s Day.
This year of 2015 will be most important for all of us. In the Diocese of Bismarck, we will be working very hard to increase all of our efforts to make better the preparation we offer our couples who are planning to be married, as well as increasing what we do to support all of you who are married and striving to live this singularly wonderful vocation of life. I have announced to all of our priests that, as of January 1, 2016, I am requiring for all couples being prepared for the sacrament of matrimony in the Diocese of Bismarck, a complete course in natural family planning (NFP), as a necessary part of the preparation we give to them. As the year progresses, there will be more information about the details of this requirement so I ask you to watch for them in the DCA as well as your parish bulletins.
In October, the Ordinary Synod of Bishops will meet to continue and complete the work accomplished in October 2014 by the Extra-Ordinary Synod concerning the family and the new evangelization. In our diocese, I ask you to make a special commitment to daily prayer first, for yourselves, and then for all of our newly married couples, our families, for all who have experienced the heartbreak of civil divorce and are striving to live a faithful, sacramental Catholic life alone, for those who have been divorced and remarried civilly that they will seek to rectify their irregular status with the help of the Church, and for all of our holy widows and widowers who stand as true signs of hope in the resurrection for all of us. Another very good way to support true marriage and family life is to plan to attend the World Meeting of Families this coming September in Philadelphia. The diocese is organizing a pilgrimage; and I know it will be a great time of grace.
If your parish is planning a mission, please plan to attend and participate as a family if you are able. The spiritual strength and graces, which come from a parish mission, are abundant and enduring. If your parish is having adult faith formation meetings, try to attend them, as I am certain these are of great benefit in helping you understand better our Church’s teachings and practices. Above all, please be faithful to Mass and regular confession if you are able to receive them. If your present situation does not permit you to receive the sacraments, pray for patience and perseverance and continue to work to correct your circumstances so that you can receive again the sacraments.
In sum, let each of us make this next year of 2015 a time of real and substantial growth in holiness by our daily commitment to prayer and to setting a good example for others. Have a most Happy and Holy New Year!