Listen for the echoes in Advent

Bishop Joseph Kopacz

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
The first Sunday of Advent marked the beginning of a new Church year and a focused time of preparation for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Spiritually, Advent suffuses every Eucharist at which Catholics gather.
During the communion rite following the Our Father at each Mass the celebrant offers an intercessory prayer on behalf of all in preparation for Holy Communion with the Lord. “Deliver us, Lord, we pray from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We pray in joyful hope that the Lord will come again, and real soon.
As the season progresses we naturally turn our hearts and minds toward his first coming in the Incarnation. Typically, four weeks in duration, this year we are on the fast track in Advent because the season is only three weeks and four hours long. The fourth Sunday of Advent is celebrated in the morning and Christmas Eve begins later in the afternoon.
(The obligation for Mass on the fourth Sunday of Advent can be satisfied on Saturday evening or Sunday morning. The Christmas Mass obligation can be fulfilled on Sunday afternoon, Christmas Eve, or on Monday, Christmas Day. There is no dispensation for a two-for-one.)
Like a small craft going down stream on the Mississippi River, Advent is propelled headlong in the Christmas current, so the Yule Tide, so to speak. In this sense, Advent reminds us how challenging it is to find time and space to be in the presence of the living God in order to cultivate and reap the blessings of God’s promises. The Blessed Mother is a lamp for our feet as we walk through Advent; she is the gold standard for us as we yearn to bring Christ to light in our lives in the power of the Holy Spirit.
She was at the center of the Anawim, the poor ones in Israel who remained faithful to God in all circumstances, the ones whom God preserved. To receive the gift of the Holy Spirit through faith, prayer is to give flesh to the body of Jesus Christ. She teaches us the depth of piety that is possible during Advent, how to treasure all these things in our hearts, how to hope in God, how to turn the other in loving service, and how to offer hospitality to those searching for her Son and the Gospel way of life.
What is the awe and wonder of this season that raise our hopes and dreams to another level for ourselves, loved ones, and for the entire world? May it be the echo of the Gospel in our hearts and minds, our faith-filled vision for the world that all are God’s children, and that our lives are a gift because we are made in the image and likeness of God.
It is true as Saint Paul says, that all creation is indeed in agony, and we ourselves groan even though we have the first fruits of the Holy Spirit. Groaning or not, the Holy Spirit leads us away from fear and slavery to sin, to freedom as the children of God.
The following quote is from Bishop Donal Murray in his recent book, In a Landscape Redrawn, and it presents an Advent commitment to our world. “Everything that exists is a gift of the Creator. This is the core of the most profound answer, who are we? Christians do not see the gift as irrelevant to those who do not have faith. Each person is the result of the same creative and loving gift. Christians express their belief, not with any sense of superiority, but rather in the hope that this high vision of human dignity may find an echo in the hearts of all human beings. The Church knows that the Gospel of Life which she has received from her Lord has a profound echo in the heart of every person, believers and non believers alike, because it marvelously fulfills all the hearts expectations while infinitely surpassing them.”
As we hear the echo of the Lord’s call in our own lives during this season of Grace, may our hopes and dreams for this world, rooted in the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, be in harmony with God’s vision for a world of justice and peace until the Lord comes again. Maranatha!

Santos de noviembre ofrecen luz en días oscuros

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz

Obispo Joseph Kopacz

El mes de noviembre ya ha comenzado con la profundización de la oscuridad al final del día, y, espiritualmente, con las fiestas de Todos Los Santos y los Santos Difuntos que nos recuerdan que la Luz del Mundo siempre brilla en la oscuridad. Mucho más ardientemente en noviembre y principios de diciembre la Iglesia Católica mira más allá de lo visible a lo que es invisible cuando la vida eterna se desarrolla en su plenitud. En última instancia, nuestra ciudadanía está en los cielos, y la vida eterna nos envuelve. Sin embargo, en cada temporada la Iglesia nunca da un paso para dejar vivir el Evangelio con la mente y el corazón de quien vendrá a juzgar a los vivos y a los muertos. De hecho, en noviembre y diciembre con la llegada de las fiestas, la Iglesia junto con muchas otras organizaciones y personas de buena voluntad, aumenta sus esfuerzos para servir a los pobres y marginados y a ser solidarios con todos.
Tenemos algunos maravillosos santos en noviembre que son una lámpara para nuestros pies para caminar con el Señor más fielmente en nuestra generación. San Martín de Porres es uno de estos discípulos del Señor, cuya fiesta es el 3 de noviembre de cada año, que puede inspirar a muchos en nuestro mundo a levantar aquellos atrapados por la oscuridad. Martín nació en Lima, Perú, el 9 de diciembre de 1579.
Él era hijo ilegítimo de un español y una esclava liberada desde Panamá, de ascendencia africana o posiblemente americana nativa. El padre de Martin lo abandonó en su niñez, junto con su madre y su hermana menor, dejando a Martin creciendo en la más profunda pobreza. Después de pasar dos años en la escuela primaria, Martin fue colocado con un peluquero/cirujano donde pudiera aprender a cortar el pelo y aplicar las artes médicas. Mientras crecía Martin experimentó un gran ridículo por ser de raza mezclada. En el Perú, por ley, todos los descendientes de africanos o indios no estaban autorizados a ser miembros de de las órdenes religiosas. No obstante, ni siquiera las penurias implacables y el abandono podría separar Martin del amor de Jesucristo.
Gradualmente su firme compromiso a derramar su vida en las huellas del Maestro superó su cultura y los prejuicios y el racismo de la Iglesia. Hasta el momento de su muerte a los 60 años de edad en 1639, fue elogiado por su atención incondicional a todas las personas, independientemente de la raza o la riqueza. Él tomó el cuidado de todos, desde los nobles españoles hasta los esclavos africanos. A Martin no le importaba si la persona estaba enferma o sucia y les daba la bienvenida en su propia casa. La vida de Martin refleja su gran amor por Dios y por todos los dones de Dios. Esta es la Iglesia en trabajo, como la Madre Teresa, en cada rincón del mundo, el Señor encarnado lavando los pies de sus apóstoles y derramando su vida en la cruz.
En las lecturas bíblicas en la Misa de ayer, San Pablo en la primera carta a los Tesalonicenses, la primera palabra escrita que existe en el Nuevo Testamento, alrededor del año 50 D.C., revela el carisma evangélico que ha transformado la vida de las personas y las culturas por casi 2000 años. “Hermanos y hermanas: fuimos suaves entre vosotros, como una madre que amamanta cuida de sus hijos. Con tal afecto por ustedes, estábamos decididos a compartir con ustedes, no sólo el evangelio de Dios, sino a darnos a nosotros mismos, tan queridos han llegado a nosotros. Ustedes recuerdan, hermanos y hermanas, nuestros esfuerzos y fatigas. Trabajando día y noche para no ser una carga para nadie, les proclamamos el evangelio de Dios.” (1Tes 2, 7b-9)
El testimonio de san Pablo y San Martín, de la Madre Teresa, y de todos los santos, católicos y no católicos, canonizados o no, es la levadura del servicio amoroso en nuestra Iglesia y en nuestro mundo que superará el odio y la violencia, la codicia y la lujuria que continúan envenenando el alma de nuestra nación y el mundo. Con un mayor sentido de urgencia ante la invasión de la oscuridad, en la naturaleza y en las manos de aquellos impulsados por el mal, y junto con las innumerables oportunidades de generosidad y solidaridad que nos atraen en el tiempo futuro, que podamos escuchar la llamada del Señor a vivir el evangelio y a valorar las cosas que realmente son importantes.

November saints offer light in dark days

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz

Bishop Kopacz

The month of November is upon us with the deepening of darkness at day’s end and, spiritually, with the feasts of All Saints and all Souls that remind us that the Light of the World always shines in the darkness. Much more ardently in November and early December, the Catholic Church looks beyond what is seen to what is unseen when eternal life unfolds in its fullness. Ultimately, our citizenship is in heaven and eternal life envelops us.
Yet, in every season, the Church never is given a pass on living the Gospel with the mind and heart of the One who will come to judge the living and the dead. In fact, in November and December with the onset of the holidays, the Church along with many other organizations and people of good will, ramps up its efforts to serve the vulnerable poor and marginalized and to be in solidarity with all. We have some wonderful saints in November who are a lamp for our feet to walk with the Lord more faithfully in our generation.
Saint Martin de Porres, whose feast day is November 3 each year, is one such disciple of the Lordwho can inspire many in our world to raise up those ensnared by darkness. Martin was born in Lima, Peru on December 9, 1579. He was the illegitimate son to a Spanish gentlemen and a freed slave from Panama, of African or possibly Native American descent. At a young age, Martin’s father abandoned him, his mother and his younger sister, leaving Martin to grow up in profound poverty. After spending just two years in primary school, Martin was placed with a barber/surgeon where he would learn to cut hair and to apply the medical arts.
As Martin grew older he experienced a great deal of ridicule for being of mixed-race. In Peru, by law, all descendants of African or Indians were not allowed to become full members of religious orders. However, not even unrelenting hardship and abandonment could separate Martin from the love of Jesus Christ. Gradually his resolute commitment to pour out his life in the footsteps of the Master overcame the prejudices and racism of his culture and the Church. Until the time of his death at 60 years old in 1639 he was praised for his unconditional care of all people, regardless of race or wealth. He took care of everyone from the Spanish nobles to the African slaves. Martin didn’t care if the person was diseased or dirty, he would welcome them into his own home. Martin’s life reflected his great love for God and all of God’s gifts. This is the Church at work.
Mother Teresa-like, in every corner of the world, the incarnate Lord washing the feet of his apostles and pouring out his life on the Cross. In yesterday’s scripture readings at Mass, Saint Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians, in the earliest recorded written word in the New Testament, about 50 A.D., reveals the Gospel charism which has transformed lives and cultures for nearly 2000 years.
“Brothers and sisters: We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children. With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you, not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us. You recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery. Working night and day in order not to burden any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.” (1Thes 2, 7b-9)
The witness of Saint Paul and Saint Martin, of Mother Teresa and of all the saints, Catholic and non-Catholic, canonized or not, is the leaven of loving service in our Church and in our world that will overcome the hatred and violence, the greed and the lust that continue to poison the life-blood of our nation and world. With a greater sense of urgency in the face of encroaching darkness, in nature and at the hands of those driven by evil and along with the countless opportunities for generosity and solidarity that beckon us in the time ahead, may we heed the call of the Lord to live the Gospel and value the things that really matter.

Santos de noviembre ofrecen luz en días oscuros

Obispo Joseph Kopacz

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
El mes de noviembre ya ha comenzado con la profundización de la oscuridad al final del día, y, espiritualmente, con las fiestas de Todos Los Santos y los Santos Difuntos que nos recuerdan que la Luz del Mundo siempre brilla en la oscuridad. Mucho más ardientemente en noviembre y principios de diciembre la Iglesia Católica mira más allá de lo visible a lo que es invisible cuando la vida eterna se desarrolla en su plenitud. En última instancia, nuestra ciudadanía está en los cielos, y la vida eterna nos envuelve. Sin embargo, en cada temporada la Iglesia nunca da un paso para dejar vivir el Evangelio con la mente y el corazón de quien vendrá a juzgar a los vivos y a los muertos. De hecho, en noviembre y diciembre con la llegada de las fiestas, la Iglesia junto con muchas otras organizaciones y personas de buena voluntad, aumenta sus esfuerzos para servir a los pobres y marginados y a ser solidarios con todos.
Tenemos algunos maravillosos santos en noviembre que son una lámpara para nuestros pies para caminar con el Señor más fielmente en nuestra generación. San Martín de Porres es uno de estos discípulos del Señor, cuya fiesta es el 3 de noviembre de cada año, que puede inspirar a muchos en nuestro mundo a levantar aquellos atrapados por la oscuridad. Martín nació en Lima, Perú, el 9 de diciembre de 1579.
Él era hijo ilegítimo de un español y una esclava liberada desde Panamá, de ascendencia africana o posiblemente americana nativa. El padre de Martin lo abandonó en su niñez, junto con su madre y su hermana menor, dejando a Martin creciendo en la más profunda pobreza. Después de pasar dos años en la escuela primaria, Martin fue colocado con un peluquero/cirujano donde pudiera aprender a cortar el pelo y aplicar las artes médicas. Mientras crecía Martin experimentó un gran ridículo por ser de raza mezclada. En el Perú, por ley, todos los descendientes de africanos o indios no estaban autorizados a ser miembros de de las órdenes religiosas. No obstante, ni siquiera las penurias implacables y el abandono podría separar Martin del amor de Jesucristo.
Gradualmente su firme compromiso a derramar su vida en las huellas del Maestro superó su cultura y los prejuicios y el racismo de la Iglesia. Hasta el momento de su muerte a los 60 años de edad en 1639, fue elogiado por su atención incondicional a todas las personas, independientemente de la raza o la riqueza. Él tomó el cuidado de todos, desde los nobles españoles hasta los esclavos africanos. A Martin no le importaba si la persona estaba enferma o sucia y les daba la bienvenida en su propia casa. La vida de Martin refleja su gran amor por Dios y por todos los dones de Dios. Esta es la Iglesia en trabajo, como la Madre Teresa, en cada rincón del mundo, el Señor encarnado lavando los pies de sus apóstoles y derramando su vida en la cruz.
En las lecturas bíblicas en la Misa de ayer, San Pablo en la primera carta a los Tesalonicenses, la primera palabra escrita que existe en el Nuevo Testamento, alrededor del año 50 D.C., revela el carisma evangélico que ha transformado la vida de las personas y las culturas por casi 2000 años. “Hermanos y hermanas: fuimos suaves entre vosotros, como una madre que amamanta cuida de sus hijos. Con tal afecto por ustedes, estábamos decididos a compartir con ustedes, no sólo el evangelio de Dios, sino a darnos a nosotros mismos, tan queridos han llegado a nosotros. Ustedes recuerdan, hermanos y hermanas, nuestros esfuerzos y fatigas. Trabajando día y noche para no ser una carga para nadie, les proclamamos el evangelio de Dios.” (1Tes 2, 7b-9)
El testimonio de san Pablo y San Martín, de la Madre Teresa, y de todos los santos, católicos y no católicos, canonizados o no, es la levadura del servicio amoroso en nuestra Iglesia y en nuestro mundo que superará el odio y la violencia, la codicia y la lujuria que continúan envenenando el alma de nuestra nación y el mundo. Con un mayor sentido de urgencia ante la invasión de la oscuridad, en la naturaleza y en las manos de aquellos impulsados por el mal, y junto con las innumerables oportunidades de generosidad y solidaridad que nos atraen en el tiempo futuro, que podamos escuchar la llamada del Señor a vivir el evangelio y a valorar las cosas que realmente son importantes.

Bishop Kopacz schedule

Thursday, October 19 – Senior class visit, Greenville St. Joseph High School.
Thursday, October 19, 6 p.m. – Catholic Charities 6th Annual Purple Dress Run, Jackson, Hal & Mal’s.
Saturday, October 21, 11 a.m. – Opening Mass, Encuentro, Madison St. Francis of Assisi.
– 4 p.m. – Mass, Robinsonville Good Shepherd Parish
– 6 p.m. – Mass and blessing of new center, Olive Branch Queen of Peace Parish.
Sunday, October 22, 11 a.m. & 12:30 p.m. – English and Spanish Mass, Southaven Christ the King Parish.
– 4 p.m. – Confirmation, Southaven Christ the King Parish.
Monday, October 23, 9 a.m. – Mass, Southaven Sacred Heart School.
Monday, October 23, 1 p.m – Mass, Holly Springs Holy Family School.

Only public events are listed on this schedule and all events are subject to change. Please check with the local parish for further details

El respeto por la vida incluye toda la comunidad

Obispo Joseph Kopacz

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
Como muchos de ustedes saben, desde el inicio de mi ordenación e instalación como el 11ª obispo de Jackson, he visitado y presidido la celebración Eucarística en la gran mayoría de nuestras parroquias. Uno de los momentos más interesantes para mí durante la liturgia, y hay muchos, es la ofrenda de las Intercesiones Generales. Constantemente en nuestras parroquias estas peticiones perforan los cielos en el nombre de Jesucristo, en nombre de la dignidad de la vida humana, desde el momento de la concepción hasta la muerte natural, así como los problemas a lo largo de nuestras vidas que son un asalto a la dignidad humana. Hay un sinnúmero: la pobreza, el racismo, la trata de seres humanos, el odio al extranjero en nuestro medio, la pena capital, la pornografía, el terrorismo, en nuestro país en Las Vegas (la última) y en el extranjero, la guerra, la limpieza étnica y religiosa, para nombrar sólo unos pocos en contra de la imagen y semejanza de Dios.
Oramos para hacer una diferencia; vivimos para hacer una diferencia, y debemos estar agradecidos a todos nuestros fieles católicos, los de otras tradiciones religiosas, y aquellos que no tienen fe o creencia religiosa que trabajan en nombre de la dignidad humana, la solidaridad y la justicia. Para muchos, la fe impulsa el compromiso; para otros, es la luz de la razón que conlleva a la verdad y al propósito de la vida humana. San Juan Pablo II dirigió elocuentemente la interacción de estos dos dinamismos dentro de la persona humana. “La fe y la razón son como las dos alas en las que el espíritu humano se eleva hacia la contemplación de la verdad, y Dios ha puesto en el corazón del hombre el deseo de conocer la verdad para que, conociendo y amando a Dios, los hombres y las mujeres también puedan llegar a la plenitud de la verdad sobre sí mismos”.
En la búsqueda de la verdad la fe y la razón son de importancia crítica cuando nos esforzamos por crear una cultura de la vida en nuestra nación, ya que abren la puerta a colaborar con otros creyentes y no creyentes, para crear un orden social más justo y compasivo. De lo contrario, nosotros como católicos, somos fácilmente rechazados al endosar nuestras creencias sobre los demás. Por ejemplo, la Iglesia se opone inequívocamente al suicidio médicamente asistido por cualquier nombre que se promueva. Podemos señalar la sabiduría de la Asociación Médica Americana en su declaración de 1998 en oposición al suicidio médicamente asistido.
“Creemos que las leyes que sancionan el suicidio médicamente asistido sirven para debilitar los cimientos de la relación médico-paciente que se fundamenta en la confianza del paciente de que el médico está trabajando con tesón por su salud y bienestar… Creemos que es posible que las personas tengan la misma concentración, atención y compasión al final de la vida tal como se exhibe al comienzo de la vida. También pensamos que este es el camino que nuestra profesión debe responder a sus pacientes, no tomando sus vidas.
Creemos que es mucho mejor que simplemente diciendo: “Tómese estas dos pastillas y no me llame en la mañana porque usted no estará aquí”. La compasión en nuestra opinión radica en cuidar no en matar. Es cierto que incluso las estrellas eventualmente mueren. Pero no es para nosotros tirar de ellas desde el cielo antes de su tiempo. Más bien, debemos centrar nuestros esfuerzos en guiar suavemente su ascendencia (cuidados paliativos) adhiriéndonos a los mismos principios y mostrando la misma compasión y la misma preocupación de que gozaban en sus días más brillantes.
Todos nosotros, al igual que las estrellas, eventualmente moriremos. Pero el valor del espíritu humano debe continuar siendo respetado y debe seguir viviendo.” ¡Qué preciosas son estas palabras! Surgen de la luz de la razón y el juramento hipocrático que es una promesa sagrada de “no hacer daño.” Esto no es la exhortación de los predicadores y maestros de la fe, pero es armoniosa con nuestra creencia en la dignidad de la persona humana, hecha a imagen y semejanza de Dios. Juntos hemos llegado a la plenitud de la verdad acerca de nosotros mismos, y empujamos en contra de la cultura de la muerte que proyecta su sombra sobre la tierra.
Asimismo, hacemos brillar la luz de la fe y de la razón sobre el comienzo de la vida en el seno materno. A medida que el tiempo avanza la ciencia moderna está revelando el desarrollo y elegancia de los pre-nacidos a la vida humana y la viabilidad de nuestros hermanos y hermanas fuera del útero al comienzo del tercer trimestre. Un número creciente de jóvenes está abrazando el mensaje pro-vida que la Iglesia ha enseñado sin vacilaciones, no necesariamente porque creen que hemos sido creados a imagen y semejanza de Dios, sino porque la realidad los está mirando fijamente a la cara. La fe y la razón, la religión y la ciencia no están en contradicción entre sí, sino que están brazo a brazo promoviendo una cultura de vida.
Todas las personas de buena voluntad puede comprender que un inesperado, no deseado embarazo puede ser abrumador e incluso traumático, pero una cultura de vida puede redoblar sus esfuerzos para acompañar a las mujeres y a sus parejas, casadas y solteras, a escoger la vida, porque es una bella elección. Pero las fuerzas de la muerte nunca duermen. En los últimos tiempos, las mujeres que han tenido abortos están siendo alentadas a hablar de sus abortos como una insignia de honor mientras la gente aplaude, en lugar de hablar de él confidencialmente y con ajustes apropiados con un miembro de la familia o un amigo, un consejero o director espiritual, o en el sacramento de la reconciliación, la búsqueda de la paz y la vida nueva.
En Illinois, en este momento una propuesta de ley está siendo promovida para financiar abortos con el dinero de los contribuyentes hasta el momento de los dolores de parto. ¿Alguien dijo cultura de muerte?
La Iglesia y todas las personas de buena voluntad están de hecho en favor de la mujer y esto incluye a las mujeres en el útero. Mientras promovemos una cultura de vida, de justicia y de paz nos comprometemos nuevamente a superar todas las injusticias que atrapan a las personas en sus momentos de desesperación y aislamiento, al comienzo y al final de la vida, y en todas las etapas. En la Iglesia ponemos nuestras vidas y cuantiosos recursos al servicio de la dignidad humana. Con malicia hacia ninguno, damos testimonio de la belleza, del bien y de la verdad de la vida humana a imagen de Dios. Que la fe y la razón nos guíe a lo largo de este noble camino.

Respect for life encompasses entire community

Bishop Joseph Kopacz

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
As many of you know, from the point of my ordination and installation as the 11th Bishop of Jackson I have visited and presided at Mass in the vast majority of our parishes.
One of the inspiring moments for me during the liturgy, and there are many, is the offering of the General Intercessions. Consistently in our parishes these petitions pierce the high heavens in the name of Jesus Christ on behalf of the dignity of human life, from the moment of conception to natural death, as well as the issues throughout our lives that are an assault on human dignity.
They are legion: poverty, racism, human trafficking, hatred of the stranger in our midst, capital punishment, pornography, terrorism, at home (Las Vegas the latest) and abroad, war, ethnic and religious cleansing, to name just one boatload of onslaughts against the image and likeness of God. We pray to make a difference; we live to make a difference, and we must be grateful to all of our Catholic people, those of other faith traditions and people of no faith or creed who labor on behalf of human dignity, solidarity and justice.
For many, faith drives the commitment; for others, it is the light of reason that arrives at the truth and purpose of human life. Saint John Paul II eloquently addressed the interplay of these two dynamisms within the human person. “Faith and reason are like two wings in which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth, and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth so that by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”
Faith and reason in the pursuit of truth is critically important as we strive to create a culture of life in our nation because it opens the door to collaborate with other believers and non-believers to create a more just and compassionate social order.
Otherwise, we as Catholics, are easily dismissed as foisting our beliefs on others. For example, the Church is unequivocally opposed to physician assisted suicide by whatever name it is promoted. We can point to the wisdom of the American Medical Association in their 1998 statement in opposition to physician assisted suicide.
“We believe that laws sanctioning physician assisted suicide serve to undermine the foundation of the patient-physician relationship, which is grounded in the patient’s trust that the physician is working wholeheartedly for the patient’s health and well being…
We believe that it is possible for people to have the same focus and attention and compassion at the end of life as is exhibited at the beginning of life.
We also feel that this is the way our profession should respond to its patients, not by taking their lives. We believe that it is far more preferable than simply saying: ‘Take these two tablets and don’t call me in the morning because you won’t be here.’
Compassion, in our view, lies in caring not killing. It is true that even stars eventually die. But it is not for us to pull them from the sky before their time. Rather, let us focus our efforts on gently guiding their descent (hospice-palliative care) adhering to the same principles and showing the same compassion and same concern that they enjoyed in their brightest days. All of us, just like those stars, will die eventually. But the value of the human spirit must continue to be respected and must live on.”
How precious are these words! They arise from the light of reason and the Hippocratic oath which is a sacred pledge “to do no harm.” This is not the exhortation of preachers and teachers of the faith, but it is harmonious with our belief in the dignity of the human person, made in the image and likeness of God.
Together we come to the fullness of truth about ourselves, and push back against the culture of death that casts its shadow across the land.
Likewise, we shine the light of faith and reason upon the beginning of life in the womb. As time marches on, modern science is revealing the development and elegance of pre-born human life, and the viability of our brothers and sisters outside of the womb at the outset of the third trimester.
A growing number of young people are embracing the pro-life message that the Church has unwaveringly taught, not necessarily because they believe that we are created in God’s image and likeness, but because reality is staring them in the face. Faith and reason, religion and science are not at odds with each other, but are arm in arm, promoting a culture of life.
All people of good will can understand that an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy can be overwhelming and even traumatic, but a culture of life can redouble its efforts to accompany women and their partners, married and unmarried, to choose life, because it is a beautiful choice.
But the forces of death never sleep. In recent times women who have had abortions are being encouraged to speak of their abortions as a badge of honor while people applaud, rather than speaking about it in confidential and appropriate settings with a family member or friend, a counselor or spiritual director, or in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, seeking peace and new life. In Illinois at this moment legislation is being promoted to fund abortions with taxpayer money right up to the point of labor pains. Did someone say ‘culture of death?’
The Church and all people of goodwill are indeed pro-women and this includes women in the womb. As we promote a culture of life, justice and peace we recommit ourselves to overcoming all injustices that ensnare people in despair and isolation, at the beginning and end of life, and at all stages. In the Church, we place our lives and considerable resources in the service of human dignity. With malice toward none, we witness to the beauty, goodness and truth of human life in God’s image. Faith and reason guide us along this noble path.

Reconstrucción: una obra de fe, esperanza

Por obisPo JosePh KoPacz Construir y reconstruir son tareas tan esenciales para nosotros en nuestra vida diaria y especialmente para nosotros, como cristianos, que trabajamos para promover el reino de Dios en nuestro mundo, un reino de verdad y de amor, un reino de santidad y de gracia, un reino de justicia, amor y paz. Para muchas personas al terminarse el don del tiempo extendido el fin de semana del Día del Trabajo nos encontramos de nuevo en el ritmo de nuestra vida diaria, y listos o no, ansiosos o resistentes, la vida tiene una manera de tirarnos y de empujarnos. Qué creativo es el concepto de que un fin de semana largo a finales del verano, abierto al ocio y a la necesidad de equilibrio en nuestras vidas, nos da una pausa para reflexionar sobre la dignidad del trabajo en todas sus manifestaciones, la obra de nuestras manos, mente, corazón y espíritu. La fundación de la Palabra de Dios es la obra de la creación, (seis días) equilibrado por descanso del sábado (un día). La interacción entre el trabajo y el descanso en Dios produce mucho fruto al cumplir nuestra dignidad y destino como imago Dei. El salmo 90, v. 17 pide a Dios que bendiga la obra de nuestras manos para que podamos efectivamente preservar el orden correcto de las cosas y, además, la obra de la creación. El trabajo es bueno, y extractos del siguiente poema “Ser de uso” por Marge Piercy capta la sabiduría de las edades iniciado en Dios.
“La gente que más amo salta al trabajo de cabeza primero sin perder tiempo en la superficialidad….Me encanta la gente que utilizan, un buey a un pesado carro, que tira como el búfalo de agua con enorme paciencia, que se esfuerza en el barro y la porquería para hacer avanzar las cosas, quién hace lo que tiene que hacerse, una y otra vez…quiero estar con la gente que se sumerge en la tarea, que van a los campos para la recolección de la cosecha y trabajan en una fila y pasan las bolsas…El trabajo del mundo es común como el barro, chapuza, mancha las manos, se desmorona en polvo. Pero la cosa que vale la pena hacer bien hecha tiene una forma que satisface, limpia y evidente… El cántaro clama por agua
para llevar, y una persona por trabajo que es real.” Uno puede sentir la energía en este notable poema, y visualizar la decidida actividad de la que habla. Podemos ampliar estas imágenes en cada rincón de nuestras vidas, y fácilmente en la reconstrucción que se está llevando a cabo en Houston y Beaumont y en muchas comunidades en el sureste de Texas después del huracán Harvey. Este trabajo de recuperación continuará durante años y muchos trabajarán, de cerca y de lejos, vecinos y amigos, extranjeros e inmigrantes. Lo que lleva años para construirse puede ser derribado en momentos por el poder destructivo de la naturaleza, o las malas intenciones de la gente. La noche llegó y la mañana continuó y así reconstruimos porque hay un poder superior, y la fe, la esperanza y el amor prevalecerán. Para comprender esto mientras avanzamos en las interminables tareas que tenemos ante nosotros en nuestros hogares, escuelas y lugares de trabajo, es un regalo que nos motiva, especialmente en esos días que preferiríamos quedarnos en la cama. Este día, el 20º aniversario de la muerte de la Madre Teresa, nos recuerda la bondad, la belleza y la verdad de su vida, y la perspectiva fundamental de su fiel espíritu, es decir, “hacer de nuestra vida algo hermoso por Dios”. Su perdurable legado encarna la sabiduría que encontramos en el evangelio de Juan “el primer trabajo es tener fe en el que Dios envió, recordándonos como discípulos que el trabajo de la creación encuentra su realización en el plan de salvación de Dios en Jesucristo. El don de la fe, del tamaño de una semilla de mostaza, puede mover montañas. (Lucas 17,6) Consideren el amanecer de la Madre Teresa, alterado a mediados de su vida de fe dedicada a los indigentes y abandonados. Ella pasó la antorcha al educar a los jóvenes y privilegiado de clase media y alta de la India y caminó hacia el infierno de Calcuta donde muchas personas habían perdido la esperanza y movido montañas. ¡Qué semilla de mostaza! Esta ruta increíble de fe, esperanza y amor no es el derecho de nacimiento de unos pocos elegidos, sino la llamada del Señor en cada una de nuestras vidas. “Porque somos su obra, creados en Cristo Jesús para las buenas obras que Dios ha preparado de antemano, que deberíamos vivir en ellas.” (Efesios 2:10) Qué el Señor suscite en cada uno de nosotros una maravillosa armonía de fe y trabajo, de modo que podamos hacer de nuestras vidas algo hermoso desarrollando nuestros talentos, sirviendo a otros y dando a Dios la gloria.

The shepherd who didn’t run: Father Stanley Rother priest and martyr

BY BISHOP JOSEPH KOPACZ In 2003 I was privileged to travel to El Salvador and Guatemala to the shrines of the martyrs with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers who had served in Central America in the preceding decades. The home base for our two-week pilgrimage was the Maryknoll Retreat Center in Guatemala City from where we traveled to the mountainous regions of that nation, as well as across the border to El Salvador. This weekend I am attending the beatification of Father Stanley Rother, one of those martyrs, a priest from Oklahoma City who laid down his life for his friends, the Tz’utujil, the indigenous people of the Lake Atitlan region in the mountains of Guatemala. Following the Second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI called for greater solidarity in the Catholic Church of the Western Hemisphere, and encouraged the Church in North America to journey in faith with their brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ in Central and South America. Soon after, as we know so well, the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson began its mission in Saltillo, Mexico, while
the Diocese of Oklahoma City was adopting the region of Lake Atitlan in the Diocese of Solola, Guatemala. Father Stanley Rother became part of the mission of his diocese in 1968, and immersed himself in the lives of the Tz’utujil people until his martyrdom in 1981. Like the Curé of Ars, Father Rother had struggled mightily with his academic studies in seminary formation, and was dismissed after First Theology. But he did not waver in his desire to the serve the Lord as a priest, and with the support of his bishop, he was given a second chance at Mount Saint Mary’s in Emmetsburg, Md. With the successful completion of his studies he was ordained a priest in 1963. While serving in rural Oklahoma in his fifth year of priesthood, he accepted the invitation to go to the margins as a missionary disciple to the diocesan mission in Guatemala. It was not an easy transition because he did not speak Spanish, let alone the dialect of the indigenous Tz’utujil. However, one dimension of life that he did know intimately was hard work and perseverance in the face of adversity. Grinding away, one day to the next, in a few years he learned Spanish, and even more incredibly, mastered the Tz’utujil dialect, proceeding to translate the liturgical texts for the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Marriage, along with the New Testament into the language of his beloved
people. The love of Jesus Christ burning in his heart moved mountains. But even before learning how to communicate with words, Father Rother’s actions spoke volumes. He worked the land with his people as only an experienced farmer from Oklahoma could, teaching them, when appropriate, more effective farming techniques that yielded a richer harvest. Father Rother’s people loved him. Their language had no equivalent for the name Stanley, so they called him by his middle name of Francis, which in Tz’utujil became Padre A’Plas. They certainly did not think of God as a mystery that they themselves could master on their own terms. They looked at this man and others like him as visible channels of God’s presence, God’s compassion, God’s mercy. The indigenous people of that region had not known a priest for over a century, but with this good shepherd and others, they found a home in the Catholic Church.

The shepherd who didn’t run: Father Stanley Rother priest and martyr

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
In 2003 I was privileged to travel to El Salvador and Guatemala to the shrines of the martyrs with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers who had served in Central America in the preceding decades. The home base for our two-week pilgrimage was the Maryknoll Retreat Center in Guatemala City from where we traveled to the mountainous regions of that nation, as well as across the border to El Salvador.
This weekend I am attending the beatification of Father Stanley Rother, one of those martyrs, a priest from Oklahoma City who laid down his life for his friends, the Tz’utujil, the indigenous people of the Lake Atitlan region in the mountains of Guatemala. Following the Second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI called for greater solidarity in the Catholic Church of the Western Hemisphere, and encouraged the Church in North America to journey in faith with their brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ in Central and South America. Soon after, as we know so well, the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson began its mission in Saltillo, Mexico, while the Diocese of Oklahoma City was adopting the region of Lake Atitlan in the Diocese of Solola, Guatemala.
Father Stanley Rother became part of the mission of his diocese in 1968, and immersed himself in the lives of the Tz’utujil people until his martyrdom in 1981. Like the Curé of Ars, Father Rother had struggled mightily with his academic studies in seminary formation, and was dismissed after First Theology. But he did not waver in his desire to the serve the Lord as a priest, and with the support of his bishop, he was given a second chance at Mount Saint Mary’s in Emmetsburg, Md. With the successful completion of his studies he was ordained a priest in 1963. While serving in rural Oklahoma in his fifth year of priesthood, he accepted the invitation to go to the margins as a missionary disciple to the diocesan mission in Guatemala. It was not an easy transition because he did not speak Spanish, let alone the dialect of the indigenous Tz’utujil. However, one dimension of life that he did know intimately was hard work and perseverance in the face of adversity.
Grinding away, one day to the next, in a few years he learned Spanish, and even more incredibly, mastered the Tz’utujil dialect, proceeding to translate the liturgical texts for the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Marriage, along with the New Testament into the language of his beloved people. The love of Jesus Christ burning in his heart moved mountains. But even before learning how to communicate with words, Father Rother’s actions spoke volumes. He worked the land with his people as only an experienced farmer from Oklahoma could, teaching them, when appropriate, more effective farming techniques that yielded a richer harvest.
Father Rother’s people loved him. Their language had no equivalent for the name Stanley, so they called him by his middle name of Francis, which in Tz’utujil became Padre A’Plas. They certainly did not think of God as a mystery that they themselves could master on their own terms. They looked at this man and others like him as visible channels of God’s presence, God’s compassion, God’s mercy. The indigenous people of that region had not known a priest for over a century, but with this good shepherd and others, they found a home in the Catholic Church.
The mission team of 12 who was serving when Father Rother arrived in 1968 gradually departed, not to be replaced. And in the years leading up to his martyrdom, he was one among his people, the last man standing, so to speak. Paralleling the mission in Saltillo, many people from Oklahoma went to Santiago Atitlan over the years. But unlike our mission which remained active until nearly a decade ago before being shut down by drug cartel brutality, the violence in Guatemala and El Salvador began decades earlier.
Civil wars erupted across Central America in the 1970s and raged throughout most of the 1980s. It was a bloody struggle between government forces and rebel groups with the former perpetrating more than 90 percent of the atrocities against their own people. Tragically, countless indigenous poor were murdered in Guatemala, along with an estimated 70,000 victims in El Salvador. Indigenous Church workers as well as missionaries from North America were caught up in the crossfire. Among the well known martyrs, whose shrines I had visited while on pilgrimage, was Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador who was gunned down at the altar by an assassin during the consecration of the Mass.
In 1980 three Religious Sisters, Ita Ford, M.M., Maura Clarke, M.M., Dorothy Kozel, O.S.U. and a Lay Missioner, Jean Donovan were raped and murdered by members of the Salvadoran National Guard. In 1989 El Salvadoran soldiers broke into the living quarters of the Jesuit priests at Central American University in San Salvador and executed six Jesuit priests, a housekeeper and her daughter. They were Fathers Ignacio Martin-Baro, S.J., Segundo Montes, S.J., Juan Ramon Moreno, S.J., Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, S.J., Amando Lopez, S.J., Juan Ramon Moreno, S.J., Elba Ramos, their housekeeper, and her 16-year-old daughter, Celina Ramos.
The dark clouds of reckless hate had reached the mountainous region of Lake Atitlan in the mid to late 1970s and the steady stream of abductions, murders and tortured remains went unabated in the ensuing years. In 1980 Father Rother was warned that his name was at the top of the death squads’ list and for a time he returned to the safety of his native Oklahoma. But he was tormented by the number of his beloved Tz’utujil people who were being mowed down by ruthless forces while he was far from harm’s way. With his bishop’s permission and the pained blessing of his family and friends, Father Rother returned for Holy Week, 1981.
His people rejoiced to embrace their shepherd once again. He gave them heart and hope. But the threats against his life only intensified. At night on July 28, 1981, three armed assassins broke into his rectory intending to abduct and torture him, before killing him and disposing of his body. Dying for his people was a sacrifice he was willing to make, but he had promised that he would not allow them to take him alive to torture and to throw away. For 15 minutes he fought them off with his bare fists, and realizing that they were not going to take this farm boy by force, they shot him in the head at point blank range. He was one of ten priests who was murdered in Guatemala in 1981.
There was an outpouring of grief in the immediate aftermath, but there was not an eruption of violence. During the funeral preparations Father Rother’s parents and family stated their intentions to bury his remains in the family plot in Oklahoma. His Tz’utujil family respectfully asked if they might keep his heart in Santiago Atitlan in their parish Church. They interceded that he had given them his heart in life; and with his heart they would cherish him in death. To this day it is encased at the back of Santiago Atitlan, the Church where his people faithfully ask his intercession when entering and leaving the house of the Lord that he had restored lovingly and ably during his years of service.
The following is a refection by Henri Nouwan who visited Atitlan two years after his martyrdom. “Stan was killed because he was faithful to his people in their long and painful struggle for human dignity, dying for them in whom he recognized the face of the suffering Lord. Stan stood with them as they learned how to read and write, sought proper nutrition and health care for their children, struggled to acquire small pieces of land to cultivate, and gradually free themselves from the chains of poverty and oppression. Martyrs are blood witnesses of God’s inexhaustible love for his people. We honor martyrs because they are the signs of hope for the living Church, they are reminders of God’s loving presence.”
Let us not forget the victims of such unspeakable violence, and grinding poverty, many who are forced to flee their homeland, then and now.

(Editor’s note: Bishop Joseph Kopacz is scheduled to attend Father Stanley Rother’s beatification ceremony in Oklahoma City Saturday, Sept. 23. Those who wish to know more about Father Rother can check out his biography, “The shepherd who didn’t run, Stanley Rother, martyr from Oklahoma,” by Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda.)