I thought I would take the time to share a few random thoughts that have been on my mind during these days following the Feast of Pentecost.
The Sanctity of Life
Dr. Kermit Gosnell is a name that should ring through the ages, as does the name of Adolph Hitler, as personifying evil in our world. Sadly, many probably don’t even recognize the name and those who do most likely have only a vague idea of the atrocities that he has committed. Thank God the jury saw fit to convict him of murder which is clearly the crime he committed. Our nation’s main stream media largely ignored the story offering the excuse that it was too horrible. The clear reality is that it was ignored because it exposes the ugly reality of abortion for what it is; taking the life of an innocent human being. I pray that we can be a local church that proclaims the pro-life message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with great joy and strength.
The tornadoes that have struck Texas and Oklahoma in the past week, once again, remind us of the fragile nature of our lives. It is uplifting to see the heartfelt response of God’s good people after they witness these tragedies and give so generously of themselves to assist their brothers and sisters. It is especially poignant to witness the loss of children and it speaks to the deep down goodness that rests in the human heart that so many join in expressing concern and support. Our faith compels us to see clearly the stark contrast between this genuine and natural response to the tragic loss of life as opposed to the selfish and evil actions of Dr. Gosnell. We must thank God for the expressions of value for the sacred nature of the life He has given all of us and pray that many more will see the tragic dichotomy which exist in our fractured society. Let us pray that our society may be moved to recognize that the loss of any life from conception to natural death is always a tragedy and a poverty for the human family.
End of Life
You may be aware of the storm of controversy surrounding a Bill in the Texas Legislature known as SB 303. The substance of this legislation deals with some much needed reforms of our state laws which pertain to end of life decisions. Once again, it highlights the essential teaching of our Catholic faith that life is sacred from conception to natural death. Certainly, we can never cease to speak out for the sanctity of the life of the unborn, but our teaching reminds us that life at the other end of the spectrum is often threatened as well. It is my firm belief that we will only bring an end to abortion when we as a society begin to embrace a true culture of life which values the sick and infirmed as well. I am proud to stand in solidarity with the bishops of Texas as we support the values this Bill reinforces. Our legal systems will never be able to perfectly express the fullness of God’s justice, but it is our duty to continue to seek that perfection and refinement of our laws. The policies expressed in SB 303 are clearly a step in the right direction and we need to support it with our prayers and action.
Many in the Diocese of Tyler have been blessed with the opportunity to participate in an ACTS Retreat and I encourage all of you who have been touched by this wonderful experience to do all you can to promote the growth of ACTS in our parishes. ACTS stands for Adoration, Community, Theology and Service and these retreats originated in the Archdiocese of San Antonio in the late 1980’s. This Catholic movement has spread to many other dioceses and has proven to be an instrument of wonderful faith renewal for many Catholics. It has also supported the faith journey of many non-Catholics. As you read my reflections under the general heading of The Sanctity of Life you may wonder about my inclusion of comments about the ACTS Retreat experience. I choose to address this element of our diocesan family because I believe it truly does speak to the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. As noted above, many of the life controversies we deal with focus on the beginning of life or the end of life. I believe ACTS is a wonderful way to make all those days in between more sacred as well. As bishop of the Diocese of Tyler I wholeheartedly endorse ACTS as a wonderful Catholic retreat experience and I encourage all of our priests, deacons, religious and laity to support ACTS in their local parish.
Knights of Columbus
The final focus I bring to these reflections on the Sanctity of Life highlights the work of the Knights of Columbus in the diocese. As is the case with the ACTS Retreats, I believe the Knights of Columbus and their generous spouses who support them are a great force for enhancing the sacred nature of the lives we lead every day. It is probably not as widely known as it should be that the Knights of Columbus do a tremendous amount of charitable work that reaches well beyond the boundaries of the Diocese of Tyler. Recently, Daniel Cardinal DINardo recognized the Diocese of Tyler Knights of Columbus Councils for their accomplishment of meeting or exceeding their charitable donation goal. The recognition notes that the Diocese of Tyler is the only diocese in the state where every Council has met or exceeded its charitable donation goal for twenty years in a row. Their efforts also garnered a check of almost $50,000.00 in support of our diocesan seminarians. These charitable donations address many needs of the body of Christ and further support the sacred nature of life in our day to day journey.
I hope you will agree with me that these seemingly random thoughts actually do come together as expressions of the sanctity of life.