FAITH AND NEW WORKS

October, Mary and us

The month of October is always for us Mary’s Month. This is the time when we turn to that most favorite of devotions, the rosary. One of the great truths I have learned is how fruitful is the daily recitation of the rosary. Before every confirmation I pray the rosary for those whom I am going to confirm. My daily rosary is the way I can guarantee that whenever someone asks me for prayers, I can fulfill that promise with confidence because the rosary is the time when I can bring the intentions of one and all to her. The rosary allows me as well to pray by name for so many people. The rosary gives me the assurance that my daily “conversation” with Mary is structured in a way that I am linked not only to her but, through her, to her Son and through her to all of you in our beloved Diocese of Rockville Centre. So once again I wish to confirm to all of you who pray the rosary what a beautiful and life-giving devotion we share. Equally I want to urge any and all of you who may seldom or even never pray the rosary to “try it” and see if she doesn’t help you live your lives even as she expands the horizons of your prayers and your care for others.

This particular October will bring with it so many events and moments that I suspect listing them may well exhaust my space for this column. Most importantly the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has announced that the Year of Faith will begin this October 11 and continue through to the Feast of Christ the King in November of 2013.  We will open this yearlong observance at the St. Agnes Medal Prayer Service in St. Agnes Cathedral on Sunday, October 14 at 3 p.m. On that occasion I will have the privilege of awarding St. Agnes Medals to those men and women who are the “unsung heroes” in our parishes. These are the faithful folks who volunteer their time and talent for every conceivable ministry and apostolic work imaginable. Those are very important ways that we show our faith through loving service of others. I usually choose one person to whom I offer that medal because of service that has benefited the diocese. This year I have asked Mr. Lew Ranieri of Curé of Ars, Merrick to accept my nomination. He is a member of the Diocesan Finance Council.  Even more, he founded and continues to captain Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation, the group of laypeople committed to raising funds to give scholarships to families who thus are enabled to send their children to Catholic elementary schools! Millions of dollars have been distributed in the past six years for this good cause. My thanks to Mr. Ranieri and all those dedicated men and women who make this one of the greatest “New Works” of our diocese.

On October 14 in Washington, the USCCB has scheduled a nationally televised Mass for Religious Freedom. We must not forget that we are in a struggle to protect religious freedom for every person and every religious institution in our country. The HHS mandate that imposes a religiously objectionable obligation for us to provide contraceptive and some abortifacient medicines and devices through the Affordable Care Act is being fought by us and others through every means at our disposal, including the courts. We bishops can do only so much. While we are doing our part we need one and all to make their voices heard to their congressional representatives and to the administration. A new group formed here on Long Island is soliciting your aid, asking you to add your names to those who insist that religious freedom, a gift from God, cannot be denied or impeded by any government, especially our own whose very Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantee that freedom.

The month of October this year leads up to national elections. I have already urged one and all to vote. Let me repeat that now. Make sure your vote is an informed one. The U.S. Bishops have re-issued their statement of four years ago, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. Please read it as you prepare to make your choices for president and Congress. You can find it on the bishops’ website, www.usccb.org. As for me I am basing my choice on a statement in that document that Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, has urged on all members of the K of C. If we all agreed that we will not vote for any candidate for public office who publicly espouses support for any intrinsically evil act such as abortion, euthanasia, to name just two, we can make a big difference. That will be the basis of my decisions.

Before Christmas of 2010, my pastoral letter, Belong More Deeply, was published and distributed through the parish bulletins. You all responded so generously to the process of preparation for the use of the new translation of the missal. The follow up letter is now ready and will be published the first days of October. You too go into the Vineyard is its title. It is a call to all of you who are faithful participants at Sunday Mass to join together and find ways, not only to live your faith ever more deeply, but also to offer a prayer and extend a hand to others that they might discover anew the gift of Christ in the Eucharistic celebration of Sunday Mass. For months the Belong More Deeply Committee, ably led by Father Gerard Gentleman, has been developing helpful ideas and new pastoral possibilities that respond to the Year of Faith and the new evangelization that the recent popes, especially our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, have opened up to us as a way to renew and revivify our life as the Church of Jesus Christ here on Long Island.

May Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, be with us in these and all the other commitments of prayer and sacrifice, outreach and activity that will offer to the world a new hope based on faith in Jesus Christ and love for one and all!