Greetings of Christ’s peace and love!
It is the start of October and it seems the fall weather has arrived. Lest we forget, October is dedicated as the month of the holy rosary to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a reminder for us to pray the rosary, a wonderful way to spend time with the Lord to meditate on his life and the mystery of salvation He won for us through the eyes of Mary. St. John Paul II described it as a “compendium of the life of Jesus and Mary and a summary of the liturgical year" (Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Oct. 16, 2002). It breaks open the Word of God from Scripture about the accounts in Jesus’ life, the foundational mystery of the Christian faith; that is, His suffering, death and Resurrection in which Mary shared. Hence, by praying the rosary, we come to live out the Paschal Mystery in our lives, and it awakens in us the call to be missionary disciples of Christ.
When we pray the rosary, we manifest our continued efforts of giving honor to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, for her exemplary life and Christian virtues of humility, obedience and surrender to God’s will. It is also a recognition of her powerful intercessory role, seeking her help to lead us to Jesus so that we may come to know, love and serve Him like her. She serves as a great inspiration for our spiritual growth and transformation of heart as well as an excellent model to emulate and to follow.
The rosary, therefore, is a time spent with Christ to deepen our relationship with Him by calling upon His mother. Through God’s grace and Mary’s intercession, we hope to find the wisdom and love we need to learn the lessons of discipleship so that, with hearts aflame with love for Christ, we can embark on our own mission to go forth and bear witness to the Gospel.
In the conclusion of his Apostolic Letter, St. Pope John Paul II encouraged families to pray the rosary together. He wrote, “At one time this prayer was particularly dear to Christian families, and it certainly brought them closer together. It is important not to lose this precious inheritance. A prayer so easy and yet so rich truly deserves to be rediscovered by the Christian community. We need to return to the practice of family prayer and prayer for families, continuing to use the rosary.” (#41)
October Is Also Respect Life Month and this year the theme is “Christ our Hope: In Every Season of Life.” It highlights the dignity and sanctity of life from the moment of conception to natural death, protecting precious life in and out of the womb. The onslaught of attacks on human life has grown more manifest in the evil of abortion and the culture of indifference to the sufferings of the poor, sick, homeless, addicts, refugees and immigrants, especially the undocumented or those without legal status.
There are celebrations and opportunities for our spiritual growth and faith renewal as well as occasions to make reparation for our sins and the prevailing culture of death. The National Life Chain event will be held on Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. at the intersection of 10600 South and State Street, hosted by the Knights of Columbus. On Oct. 12, the following week, at the same location, volunteers will pray the rosary to ring out the message of Our Lady of Fatima for peace in our world. Let us keep on praying the holy rosary every day.
Our Church also celebrated this week the World Day of Migrants and Refugees to reflect on the realities of migration in every corner of the world. We have heard and watched the news of the plights of many migrants on our southern borders and the future of many undocumented brothers and sisters already in our country without legal status. This sad reality wakes us up to examine how we live our faith as believers and followers of Christ as God calls each of us to be hospitable and to welcome the stranger. The call to welcome is not new. Christ told us “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40). Our attitude toward migrants and refugees reflects our attitude toward Christ. Pope Benedict XVI explained this dynamic in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love): “Love of God and love of neighbor have become one: in the least brethren we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God.” Pope Francis reiterated this truth in his message for the 2016 World Day of Migrants and Refugees: “Biblical revelation urges us to welcome the stranger; it tells us that in so doing, we open our doors to God, and that in the faces of others we see the face of Christ himself.” Let us include this special intention as we pray the rosary to provide hope to those in need.
Every year, we also celebrate the Diocesan Marian Multicultural Procession and Holy Mass, manifesting the rich diverse cultural makeup of our local Church in Utah and in our nation. We will pray the rosary in different languages during the procession of the various images of the Blessed Virgin from different countries. Holy Mass follows at the Cathedral of the Madeleine with the prayer of Consecration for our diocese to Our Lady of Fatima. Representatives from several parish ethnic or cultural groups will gather to pray together, expressing our pursuit of building our Church, the One Body of Christ, and forming one faith community. This highlights also one of the priorities of our Pastoral Plan: to strengthen our Catholic identity in the Holy Eucharist and to promote unity in diversity. Please invite your parishioners and come and join us.
Pope Francis Declared October 2019 ‘Extraordinary Missionary Month’ aimed at fostering an increased awareness of the Church’s mission to the people (missio ad gentes), a reminder that the Church is missionary by its very nature and we are called to share the good news with everyone in our words and through our “faith in action.” He encourages the faithful to take to heart the proclamation of the Gospel and to help our communities grow in missionary and evangelizing zeal.
On Oct. 22, We Celebrate Mission Sunday. This will be a unique opportunity to renew our baptismal call to mission, a call that each of us has, no matter what our state in life is.
The Sunday collection is a unique effort in support of the continued missionary work of the Church all over the world. It will also be a new opportunity to invigorate our missionary spirit as disciples of Christ by focusing in particular on our local missionary outreach in the diocese. Therefore, I strongly encourage all our clergy, especially pastors, to continue to promote aggressively our Diocesan Development Drive (DDD). You know that as a missionary diocese, the mission of our local Church, especially the ministries in the poor parishes and missions, depends on the financial subsidies from the DDD. It covers the faith formation of our children, youth and adults, the education of our seminarians studying for the priesthood, the permanent deacons and students in the Catholic schools; as well as the charitable outreach to the poor, the homeless, the immigrants and the refugees.
I appeal to your unity and solidarity as brother priests and responsible shepherds to promote strongly the DDD with your prayers, your own personal contribution and that of your parishioners. Please continue to advertise it in your parish bulletin, but most importantly, talk about the drive at Sunday Masses, help the faithful fill up their pledge card and send their charitable donation. Our diocese can continue to be of service to all the people of this state, especially those in need, with your critical support to meet our DDD goal.
Finally, I ask for your continued collaboration in the implementation and integration of our diocesan Pastoral Plan in the life of your parish communities. The priorities are no other than the basic components of parish life and ministry, that can hopefully bring about faith renewal and a springtime of the New Evangelization in our local Church and help form new disciples and partners in our mission of evangelization.
Thank you for your kind attention, commitment to your priestly ministry and cooperation. Blessings to every one!
October Events in the Diocese of Salt Lake City
Intercultural Marian Celebration and Mass will be Oct. 5, 3 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, 309 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City. All are welcome to join this celebration.
Catholic Community Services 2019 Humanitarian Awards Dinner will be Oct. 30, 6 p.m., at the Little America Hotel, 500 Main St., Salt Lake City. For tickets and information, visit https://www.ccsutah.org.