Bulletin (February 4, 2007)

Once Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856) and a friend were admiring the cathedral of Amiens. His friend asked why people no longer build such structures. Heine replied, “Dear Alphonse, men in those days had convictions, we moderns have opinions and it requires something more than an opinion to build a Gothic cathedral.” We live in an age when people have opinions about almost everything, but few have deep convictions. In politics it doesn’t matter whether someone votes for a candidate because they have studied his voting record or because they like the color of his tie. In business it doesn’t matter if someone buys a car because they read Consumer Reports or because they saw an ad with an attractive woman sitting on the hood.

This mentality often carries over into people’s moral decision making. Almost everyone has an opinion regarding “pro-life” and “pro-choice” but few people really have deep convictions. I will hear people say things like “I am against abortion, but I want it to be a woman’s choice - not the choice of some politician.” The question is why it should be a choice at all. It should be as unthinkable to take a baby’s life ten minutes before birth as it is ten minutes after birth. An opinion (“pro-life” or “pro-choice”) will not take a person very far, but a conviction about the value of each human life will lead to the building, not necessarily of a cathedral, but of a new culture.

Something similar applies in the area of sexual morality. Last year Pope Benedict wrote a beautiful encyclical (Deus Caritas Est, God is Love) on the relationship between human loves and divine love. I took it with me when I went to Peru and was impressed by the simplicity and profundity of the pope’s message. In the opening paragraphs he poses this question:

Let us first of all bring to mind the vast semantic range of the word “love”: we speak of love of country, love of one's profession, love between friends, love of work, love between parents and children, love between family members, love of neighbor and love of God. Amid this multiplicity of meanings, however, one in particular stands out: love between man and woman, where body and soul are inseparably joined and human beings glimpse an apparently irresistible promise of happiness. This would seem to be the very epitome of love; all other kinds of love immediately seem to fade in comparison. So we need to ask: are all these forms of love basically one, so that love, in its many and varied manifestations, is ultimately a single reality, or are we merely using the same word to designate totally different realities?

The pope answers by analyzing two Greek words for love: eros and agape. The first refers to “that love between man and woman which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings.” The second designates the love which “seeks the good of the beloved: it becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice.” Agape does not destroy eros. It purifies eros of its destructive impulses. Eros ascends from below while agape descends from above. Christianity brings together the two loves by its teaching on marriage as sign (sacrament) of God’s love for his people. It focuses on the family as the place where human beings learn the difficult demands of love. I recommend Pope Benedict’s encyclical. It would make good reading for Lent, which begins in just a couple of weeks. It will help form a deep conviction about the meaning of love and human sexuality which by their nature are oriented to the marriage of man and woman - and the formation of families.

The Knights of Columbus had a nice celebration of marriage and family with their annual Crab Feed and Lovers’ Dance. It was good to see so many couples from our parish and beyond take part in this event. Because of our new ground level Tice Hall, we were able to accommodate more people than ever. The Knights mentioned that it involved more work, but was well worth it.

These past days we had a wonderful celebration of Catholic Schools Week. All of the different activities helped us reflect on what it means to form Christian disciples. We inaugurated Catholic Schools Week with Saturday evening Mass at which we had the baptism of Mary Catherine Hart, the daughter of our seventh grade teacher and her husband, Karl. Also this week, I was very touched by the cards which Holy Family students made for my 35th ordination anniversary. On Wednesday many of our parents (as well as uncles, aunts and grandparents) came to lunch with their children. On Friday we honored our grandparents, who play such an important role in our children’s lives. I want to thank all those who participated in Catholic Schools Week - and all of you for your support of our parish school.

In three weeks Fr. John Corapi will be here for a Lenten Retreat. At this point we are completely sold out. We have received well over a thousand registrations, and we have had to return many of those. If you listen to Sacred Heart Radio (1050 AM), you understand why Fr. Corapi is so popular. He brings a powerful message of renewal and hope. Even if you are not registered for this retreat, I encourage you to listen to Fr. Corapi. His program, The Teaching of Jesus Christ, is broadcast on weekday mornings from 7 to 8 a.m.

En la parte en inglés escribí algo sobre la Semana de Escuelas Católicas. El día miércoles los niños de nuestra escuela parroquial me presentaron tarjetas para mi aniversario 35 de ordenación sacerdotal. El diácono Ted me dio una bendición junto con los alumnos de Holy Family. Aquí es una foto de la bendición y también una foto con el Diacono Ted y el director de la escuela, el Sr. Glen Lutz.

El próximo sábado estaré con nuestro grupo de jóvenes con algunas reflexiones sobre el amor divino y amor humano, basado en la Biblia y en la carta encíclica del Santo Padre, el Papa Benedicto XVI. Todo joven está invitado.

Pronto vamos a iniciar el tiempo sagrado de la Cuaresma con el Miércoles de Ceniza (21 de febrero). Para los miembros de la Adoración Nocturna habrá una visita especial del Monseñor Eusebio Elizondo, el 24 de febrero y para todos un retiro el 9 y 10 marzo. Quisiera hacer una invitación especial a personas afectadas por un aborto provocado de participar en un Retiro del Viñedo de Raquel, el 23 al 25 de marzo. Puede ser el papá, igual que la mamá - y también abuelos u otras personas a causa de tal tragedia. Ese mismo fin de semana habrá la Caminata a la Catedral y el Día de Reconciliación Arquidiocesano.