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Catholic Courier Diocese of Rochester, NY November 2015

News

&Analysis

Bishop SalvatoreR. Matano From the Bishop

Preparing for eternal life

November 2015 "For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life. " (John 6:40) My dear sisters and brothers in Christ: We have now begun the month of November when darkness comes earlier, sunrise later; the wind turns colder, and the trees have shed their leaves; night seems longer than day. In the midst of this seasonal transi- tion of nature, Mother Church in- vites us in this month of All Souls to consider death and the preparation we make in this life to be worthy of eternal life. It begins with the ac- knowledgment and acceptance of the somber reality that we all one day will die, that this life is but an introduction to eternity. Our present life is the moment to form our relationship with Jesus. To know, to love and to serve Christ in this life precedes all other concerns and priorities and should not be "put off" or delayed. Yet, we can pro- suffer not this occasion to slip, which we can little tell whether ever we shall get it again or never" ( A Treatise to Receive the Blessed Body of Our Lord, composed in 1534 in the Tower of London the year be- fore his martyrdom). The essence, the very heart and center for a strong relationship with the Lord in this life is our worthy re- ception of the Most Holy Eucharist in Holy Communion, communio : the union of our very person with the very person of Jesus Christ. In re- cent years we have as a Church quite tragically lost a sense of the impor- tance of the eucharistic presence of Christ, which is confirmed by many studies indicating a very serious de- cline in weekly Mass attendance. Yet central to our Catholic faith is the be- lief that in the Most Holy Eucharist Jesus Christ is truly present, His very Body and Blood, Soul and Di- vinity. The Jesus who walked the shores of Galilee, the Jesus who chose the Twelve, the Jesus who healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the multitude, comforted the lonely and forgotten and forgave sinners, the Jesus who died and rose from the dead - He is here with us in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. It is true that Jesus can be pre- sent to us in many ways - in the beauty and majesty of nature's won- ders, in the love and warmth of fam- ily and friends, in our mutual con- cern for each other, extending care to the poor, the sick, the refugee, the outcast and the many forgotten brothers and sisters in God's family. But these real expressions of Chris- tian beauty and love find their heart in Christ, the Christ of the Eu- charist, who sustains us and moti- vates us in fulfilling the mandate to love one another. As in life there are levels of en- counters with people and varying degrees of relationships with per- sons, so too with the Lord there are levels of encounters and the most profound encounter we can have with the Lord in this earthly life is the Eucharist. If we really believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, why would we ever absent ourselves from the weekly celebration of

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crastinate even though we know not the day, nor the hour when the Lord will call us home. Edward Young, an English poet who lived from 1681 to 1765, once wrote: "Procrastination is the thief of all time. Year after year it steals, till all are fled. And to the mercies of a moment leaves the vast con- cerns of an eternal scene" ( Poems of Sentiment I. Time, Procrastina- tion, from "Night Thoughts, Night I"). Simply put, this life is not a dress rehearsal - we have one life, no second chances. As human beings we can procras- tinate; we can put off what is truly important in our lives. And yet, in history some of those individuals who accomplished the most did so in a very short period of time. Blaise Pascal, a scientific genius and math- ematician as well as a profound philosopher, died at 39. St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, was dead at the age of 43. St. Teresa of Avila, a saint and doctor of the Church who founded the Discalced Carmelites, died at the age of 47. St. Thrse of Lisieux, still another saint and doc- tor of the Church, died at the tender age of 24. But still younger was St. Dominic Savio, whose deep faith al- lowed him to die a grace-filled death, even at the age of 15, and the extraordinary act of St. Maria Goretti, who had the courage to die a martyr's death when she was not yet 12 years old. Yes, these people, our sisters and brothers in the faith, knew that this life is not a dress rehearsal, that we have only one life to live and we must live it to the full! We cannot put off until tomorrow what we can and should do today! How right St. Thomas More was when he said: "Let us not lose this time, therefore,

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Celebrating Black Catholic History Month

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