Each year, the annual Mass and March for Life in Washington, D.C., is
becoming more and more a kind of youth and young adult event. Of
course, we're grateful to all the old timers (like me) who continue to
attend. I am extremely proud of our Catholic colleges and high schools
that send delegations each year to witness to the sacredness of human
life. If your school was represented this year, thank you. If not, why
not? See you next year, maybe?
As important as the March for Life is in terms of public pro-life
witness, there are many other ways in which we can and should take a
pro-life stand. One such matter is currently taking place right here in
New York state. Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a non-fiscal budget
bill this year, which includes language that is a radical and
unnecessary expansion of late-term abortion. This proposed legislation
would allow abortion for any reason and at any time in a pregnancy
including into the ninth month right up until the moment of birth, which
would essentially legalize infanticide. We need to take action against
this deplorable legislation! You can visit the New York State Catholic
Conference website at www.nyscatholic.org
and click the "Take Action!" tab to express your concerns to your state
senator. The state budget must be enacted by April 1. I urge you to
take immediate action by visiting this website and sending a strong
message to your lawmaker. Please join me in praying that this atrocious
legislation shall not come to pass.
The Church of England encourages its members to fast from using
plastics as a Lenten discipline this year. Wish I'd thought of that.
Anything that protects the integrity of God's creation, our common home,
is a good thing!
Speaking of England, I will be leading a diocesan pilgrimage to the
sacred sites of England and Scotland this Oct. 26 through Nov. 5. The
11-day pilgrimage will provide many opportunities to experience the
tremendous spiritual and cultural history of these two countries. I
invite every member of our diocese to consider joining me as this is
meant to be a diocesan pilgrimage. If you are interested in
participating in this pilgrimage, please see the ad below this column
for more details. Take note that there is an early booking discount in
place until April 1.
If you are a parent giving some thought to your funeral arrangements,
be sure to specify in your will that you wish to have the full Rites of
Christian Burial celebrated upon your death. Pastors tell me that too
often these days, parents who have been lifelong faithful Catholics -
maybe even daily Mass goers - are deprived of a Funeral Mass by their
non-practicing children, who insist on an abbreviated service such as
prayers at the wake or cemetery.
What about the recent Ash Wednesday/St. Valentine's Day dispute? The
Church asks us to fast and abstain on only two days each year - Ash
Wednesday and Good Friday - and people want a dispensation? I call that
insipid religiosity, or perhaps Catholic Lite. This reminds me of a
conversation I had with a gentleman in Maine. He grew up Catholic, he
told me, and then in his 40s converted to an evangelical Protestant
congregation. I asked him why. His answer: "Catholicism is too easy. I
want a faith that makes serious demands on me." I myself find the
Catholic faith pretty demanding. But it's something to ponder during
this Lenten season.
Gun violence must stop. How many more students must be killed or
seriously injured, how many more parents and classmates heartbroken in
grief before we realize that all of us together - the people of the
United States - must get to the root of this evil and begin to eradicate
the violence and destruction in our midst. St. John Paul II warned 25
years ago that Western society was becoming more and more a culture of
death. I am afraid that his prescient words are being proven true with
each passing month. Stand up for human life, which is sacred from the
moment of conception to the moment of natural death ... and at every
moment in between!
Lastly, I extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the schools that
welcomed me during Catholic Schools Week. It is always a great joy to
pray with you, to visit your classrooms, and to view your STREAM
projects. Catholic Schools: Different Where It Counts!
St. Patrick and St. Joseph, pray for us as we continue our Lenten journey!