|March 6, 2008 Edition|
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As I repeat, perhaps too often, our gift of time is the gift of our lives, and when we sacrifice our time we are clearly sacrificing all that we have to give at the moment. This sacrifice is particularly appropriate during Lent.
This week I want to offer my annual reminder about the importance of the sacrifice of time during Holy Week, when we celebrate the central mysteries of our faith. It is surely not too early to make certain that our calendars are cleared, so that we can celebrate the beautiful liturgies of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. For those who are within our reach, we will also have a beautiful celebration of Tenebrae, one of the Church's Holy Week traditions, at St. Patrick's at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday of Holy Week, at which I will preside.
The importance of reserving this sacrifice of time for the Lord and Messiah who suffered, died, and rose for us cannot be overstated. Attendance at the Church's single most important liturgy of the year, the great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night, should certainly be a top priority. I know that schedule conflicts are very difficult for all of us, but imagine the impact that it would have on the Catholic faith formation of your children or grandchildren if they see you setting a priority on attending all of the important liturgical celebrations of Holy Week. So please be reminded, please look at your calendar today, and please do your very best, and I express my own gratitude, in advance.
Secondly, let me make an observation about a current cultural phenomenon in the United States that has left a deep impact on myself. I watch our presidential candidates in both parties working absolutely tirelessly on their campaigns to be elected president.
It seems they "eat, drink, and sleep" - actually they probably sleep very little - victory in the election as president of the United States. They are focused and untiring. I ask myself everyday if I am as focused and untiring as they are, in my own personal desire for heaven.
The presidency of the United States lasts for, at most, eight years - with all of its anguish, stress, difficulty, and, rarely, glory - but eternal life is eternal life. Why should I be any less tireless and focused in seeking heaven than someone else might be in seeking the presidency of the United States?
It is a stark question for me during these days of Lent, and one which I must answer honestly in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. And I would suggest the same examination of conscience, before the Blessed Sacrament, for each one of you.
Lastly (my third point, for those of you who are watching carefully) we commemorate, on March 14th, the destruction of our cathedral. This is a time of prayer for the whole Diocese of Madison, as we commemorate the loss of our diocesan mother-church, which we suffered on that sorrowful day. At the same time, it is a moment to reflect on the responsibility that falls on the shoulders of us all to provide for a cathedral in the future.
With a great deal of consultation, the decision to rebuild the cathedral has been made and we continue to look to the moment when we can begin a capital campaign, primarily for the rebuilding of our cathedral.
It saddens me that some have indicated that they will not participate in such a capital campaign for a new cathedral, for example, because I have defended the definition of marriage so vigorously, when it was my obligation to do so. If I defend the teaching of the Church about marriage, it makes very little sense to "punish" me for that by refusing to fulfill the obligation that all of us have to provide for a Cathedral Church. My fulfillment of my own responsibilities should never be the cause for the failure of others to fulfill the responsibilities they themselves have. If someone really wants to "punish" me, that should never be confused with punishing our wonderful diocese - which needs a Cathedral!
As we move toward the last days of Lent, repentance, conversion, and examination of conscience are the order of the day. Our priorities for celebrating the central mysteries of our faith during Holy Week, the way we live out our priority to seek heaven, and the priority that we give to our own responsibility to provide for a Cathedral Church for this wonderful diocese are most appropriate subjects for our on-going Lenten reflection and examination of conscience.
As I need to engage in that examination of conscience prayerfully, each day, before the Blessed Sacrament, I hope and I pray that you will join me and that, as a result, we will all have grown in holiness during this Lent in a way that enables us to see the spiritual growth that the Lord's Grace has worked within us since last Easter.
Thank you for reading this, please let us keep each other in prayer during these closing days of Lent, and God Bless each one of you! Praised be Jesus Christ!