When I mentioned to a friend that I intended to write this month's
column on the new evangelization, he accused me of having an obsession -
a "holy" obsession, he qualified - with that theme. I told him that if I
do indeed have such an obsession, it is because I am convinced that the
work of helping people encounter Jesus Christ and His saving message is
the primary mission of the Church ... at this time, and at all
times. Evangelization is, as Blessed Paul VI declared in his 1976
encyclical "Evangelii Nuntiandi," the "deepest identity" of the Church.
The Church, he wrote, "exists in order to evangelize" (#14).
"What was the best part of your pilgrimage to Ireland?" I've heard
that question a dozen times since our return from the "land of saints
and scholars." The short answer is, the simple fact that I finally got
there, for the first time, and just months before my 72nd birthday. Too
long a wait, to be sure, but well worth it in every way. It was a truly
blessed journey of faith and prayer, joy and beauty, history and ...
If each of the months of the year were assigned a quality, it might
be said that March is lucky and July is independent, but November is
always grateful. Although the Thanksgiving holiday comes at the end of
November, it lends an atmosphere of gratitude to the entire month. This
month also marks the end of the Church's liturgical year, while the
calendar year begins the last stretch toward the finish line. Thus, it
is a fitting time to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for.
On World Mission Sunday, October 22, our celebration leads us to hear
of our Christian faith - leads us to mission, as Pope Francis explains
in his message for this year's celebration.
It was not that many weeks ago that our country experienced what
could be described as "eclipse mania" with people embarking upon eclipse
road trips and doing all they could to obtain safe eyewear for eclipse
viewing. This type of communal sky gazing is not a common occurrence in
our modern world. We are more apt to be focused on the beeping
smartphones in our hands than the broad sky above us. But on one
afternoon in late August, we were all united in this upward gaze.
Please allow me to update you on something you
may have seen in the news today, and about which you may have questions.
"Be Not Afraid" has been a consistent theme of St. John Paul II and Pope
Francis and one that has particular urgency today. This year's theme
for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Respect Life
Program fills us with encouragement and hope and calls us to love,
defend and celebrate all human life. It calls us to joyfully follow the
example of Christ, to love without limits, and further, to act on that
sense of true Christian charity.
"I pray for all the victims of these days. May the blind violence of
terrorism no longer find room to exist in the world." - Pope Francis
Finland. Barcelona and Cambrils, Spain. Charlottesville, Virginia.
Stockholm, Sweden. Paris, France. Manchester and London, England. The
Middle East, Africa ... and Buffalo. There are so much more, just in
recent months, including 3,000 preborn children's lives snuffed out
through abortion every day in the United States.
As I write this column, I am in Massachusetts, the "land of my birth,"
where I have been blessed to step out of the whirlwind for a few quiet
summer days of R and R. I should add a third R to Rest and Relaxation,
as a vacation priority for me always is to catch up on Reading.
Do you sometimes wonder, though, why so many people, maybe even
beloved relatives or friends, can't seem to find that joy that comes
from knowing Jesus?
Late on Easter afternoon, driving east on the Thruway, I stopped for
coffee. The woman at the counter asked me, "How was your Easter?" A
gracious, well-intended expression of hospitality, but ... was? How was
my Easter? ... and this on Easter Day! I said, "My Easter is great,
thank you, and it will be for the next 50 days. I pray it will be for
you, too." I never miss a teachable moment, in this case, an opportunity
to make a simple reference to the Great 50 Days, the season from Easter
to Pentecost when the Church basks in the radiance of the Risen Lord
and longs for a new coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
By Bishop Richard J. Malone
Isn't it a curious and concerning thing that so many of our Christian
feasts have been overlaid - better, co-opted - by all sorts of customs
that, though nice, have little to do with the essence of those feasts.
Christmas comes first to mind, which for too many folks seems more a
consumer-driven winter wonderland festival than the celebration of our
Savior's birthday. And don't get me started on what popular American
culture has done to the Vigil of the Solemnity of all Saints ... better
known, sadly, as Halloween.
By Bishop Richard J. Malone
As I write this February blog, I am with my brother bishops from
across New York state on our annual five-day retreat. I must confess a
bit of guilt that I am disregarding the strong suggestion of our Jesuit
retreat master that we all disconnect from diocesan business and shut
down our iPhones so as to listen more attentively to the Holy Spirit.
Even in my quiet prayer, though, I have been so distracted by two
looming concerns that I finally suspected that maybe the Lord was
nudging me to deal with them even while on retreat.
Jan. 1, 2017, marks the 50th World Day of Peace, which is an observance
that was initiated by Pope Paul VI. In his message for this 50th World
Day of Peace, Pope Francis invites us to reflect on "nonviolence as a
style of politics for peace."
As I write these words to you, we are experiencing the end of two
long-term events: the presidential election and the Jubilee Year of
Mercy. While the close of the Year of Mercy is bittersweet, the end of
the election could not come soon enough. Yet the close proximity of
these two closures offers us much food for thought and reflection.
It's a common experience for bishops. Often enough, after we have
addressed some controversial moral issue (which may also be a neuralgic
political issue), we get mail. This intensifies during an election
season. No surprise there.
By Bishop Richard J. Malone
I haven't met many people who are not by now exasperated, confounded
and dismayed by the ongoing presidential election campaign. Ordinarily
in an election year I would be looking forward to the day after the
election; at least the war of words would be (pretty much) behind us.
This time, however, I expect that I will feel no better about the
national situation then than I do right now, a few weeks away from Nov.
8. In fact, I may feel worse. I say that in a completely nonpartisan
spirit. As an FYI, I have been an independent (undeclared is the
official word, I guess) voter for over four decades. Over those many
years, I have sometimes voted for Democrats, sometimes for Republicans.
This year, as with just about every election, neither of the major
presidential candidates completely aligns with all of our key Catholic
"Moved by Mercy" has been a consistent theme of Pope Francis
and one that has particular urgency today. This year's theme for the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Respect Life Program fills us with
encouragement and hope and calls us to love, defend and celebrate all human
life. It calls us to joyfully follow the example of Christ, to love without
limits, and further, to act on that sense of true Christian charity.
For a few weeks now, the "back to school" ads have been signaling the
waning of summertime (for which I, a cold weather aficionado, am very
grateful this year - apologies to you heat lovers out there!)
It was American Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr who famously
declared that the Christian teaching on original sin is "the only
empirically verifiable doctrine of the Christian faith."
might be debated that original sin is the "only" empirically verifiable
Christian doctrine, there can be little doubt that there is plenty of
evidence to validate the Church's teaching about the fact and
consequences of original sin. Just read the papers and view the evening
TV news. And, if you dare, look into the mirror of your own conscience.