Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We find ourselves liturgically back in ‘Ordinary Time’. On one hand, you might look at the news and our community and ask, “What’s ordinary about any of this?” But for Catholics, the word ‘Ordinary’ comes from the Latin ordinal, which means ‘to order’… or more practically, to order all things towards Christ. And that is something our community and nation needs, always.
Earlier this week, we witnessed only the second time that a Catholic has been inaugurated as the President of the United States. When JFK was inaugurated on January 20, 1961, it felt for Catholics like a ‘coming of age’ in our nation. For much of our country’s history prior, Catholics had often been viewed with suspicion at best and outright persecution at worst. (Fun fact: many of the old churches in Philadelphia only have windows very high up… this was so as to make it difficult for members of the ‘Know-Nothing’ party to break them with stones and bricks.). With JFK as president, we felt like we finally had acceptance at the highest political stage. It’s somewhat surprising that it has taken so long since for another Catholic to be elected to the highest office in the land. For much of the last 60 years, Catholics have comprised about 25% of the US population.
As brothers and sisters in the Church, we now have a double duty to pray for President Biden not only as a brother in Christ, but also in his heavy task of leading our nation especially in such troubled and divisive times. Speaking only for myself as a pastor of a small rural parish, the temptations and pressures to abandon Christ and his Church for the sake of expediency or ‘getting along’ are many… I cannot imagine what the pressure must be like for President Biden. And so, we must support our brother by our prayers and sacrifices that he might govern us wisely and be true to Jesus Christ and our Catholic faith.
As Catholics, Jesus has blessed us with shepherds to guide us, to teach us, to correct us; to offer us the grace, mercy, light, and strength of Christ. Though these men are imperfect (everyone outside of Jesus and Mary falls into that category!), they are given the gift of the Holy Spirit in a unique way. Let us therefore also pray for our bishops: that they be courageous, compassionate, steadfast shepherds of all of us including our president… and that all of us be true disciples of the flock of Christ. (If you haven’t read them yet, I encourage you to read Pope Francis’ statement and the US Bishop’s statement in full.)
Regardless of our political leaning, we have a duty and opportunity to pray for all of our civic leaders. In a particular way, please join me in praying for our brother in Christ, President Joseph Biden.
Bible in a Year
In a homily a couple weeks ago, we spoke of the pressing need to grow in a Biblical view of humanity and the world if we want to understand what’s at the heart of today’s challenges and how our Lord is at work. The challenge was issued to start listening to the #1 podcast in the US, “The Bible in a Year”, produced by Ascension Press and narrated by Fr. Mike Schmitz.
Don’t worry about starting late! (I’m about a week behind). Just start listening as you can, even if it takes two years to get through. It will be worth it! I often joke, “Nobody in heaven ever wishes they read the Bible less!”
You can find the podcast here: https://media.ascensionpress.com/category/ascension-podcasts/bibleinayear/
We as Catholics are called by Jesus to continue advocating and working for the respect of every human life ‘from womb to tomb’ – educating on life beginning at conception, supporting pregnant women to know they are loved and not alone, helping young families to have all the resources they need to raise their children, walking with mothers and fathers who previously chose abortion to know the healing and merciful love of Jesus… the work is beautiful, and urgent.
January is a month to be particularly renewed in this mission as we mourn the 48th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. This year, there have been about 2 million deaths worldwide due to COVID-19… and over 2.3 million due to abortion. Over 62.5 million abortions have occurred in the US since 1973, and over 1.6 billion worldwide since 1980. This is beyond tragic. (Source: http://www.numberofabortions.com )
Here are some ways to be a part of the solution:
- The US Bishops are calling on all Catholics to engage in a Day of Prayer and Fasting on Jan 22nd, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Can you pray an extra Rosary? Can you give something up that day?
- Pro-Life Presentation and Holy Hour, Jan 28th at 7pm: The St. Louis Catholic Young Adults are hosting a talk and Holy Hour at the Cathedral. The talk is geared towards young adults, but everyone is invited to be a part. It will be livestreamed. At Good Shepherd, we’ll livestream the presentation in the cafeteria and Fr. Jakle room at 7pm, followed by a Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration in the church from 7:30p – 8:30p.
- Festus March for Life: St. Pius X HS has organized on Jan 29th at 12:30p, starting at the Festus Library, ending at Pius HS (about 2 miles). Police escorts have been arranged for safety, and shuttles coordinated to transport us back to the start location.
- Lifeline Coalition – Historically this would have been the weekend a member of the Respect Life ministry would speak to you about the life-giving work performed by the Life Line Coalition in St Louis. Their mission is to raise awareness that pregnancy assistance is available through a group of Catholic and pro-life social service agencies that help women with unplanned pregnancies including: Our Lady’s Inn Maternity Home, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Fund, Birthright, Good Shepherd Children & Family Services, Haven of Grace and Mary Queen of Angles. These agencies serve over 10,000 local women, men, children and families each year. Their annual campaign raises funds to support this much worthy cause. You can continue your generous support this year by donating on line at: www.archstl.org/respect-life-apostolate/programs/pastoral-care/lifeline-coalition
Catholic Men for Christ
This year, due to COVID, the conference will not be able to take place as normal. However, parishes and local communities are encouraged to have ‘watch parties’. Men, mark your calendars for Saturday, Feb 20th. More details to come on how we can safely have a watch part at Good Shepherd. If interested, please contact Gary Weber at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other information: https://www.catholicmenforchrist.org
Have you put away the Christmas Decorations yet? Lent is less than a month away… it comes early this year.
Ash Wednesday will be on Feb. 17th. Mass times that day will be at 6am, 8am, and 7pm… signups will be available, with overflow in cafeteria for Ashes and Communion. For ash distribution, we will be sprinkling a small amount of ashes on top of your head rather than tracing them on your forehead. This will enable us to avoid contact.
Fish Frys: I am in communication with the KofC / Ladies Aux, the school, and others about how to handle Fish Frys this year. As of now, they will happen on the Fridays of Lent, but will likely be drive-thru (a new option!) and carry-out only. More information to come, but mark your calendars now for the Fridays of Lent to support the parish and school and eat some tasty fried fish!
That’s all for now. Know of my prayers for you, and please do not hesitate to reach out of there is anything we at Good Shepherd can do for you!
Gratefully in Christ,