A Sheperd's Message - Jan. 14, 2014
January 14, 2014
I am writing this column on Epiphany afternoon and I am about to go on retreat with the Region X Bishops in San Antonio.
The retreat is a practice of the bishops of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas for many years in the week after Epiphany and a good way to begin each New Year.
I want to thank so many of you for your kind cards, greetings and goodies for Christmas, as well as your letters for prayers and support for my ministry as shepherd of this local Church.
May God give us all a peaceful 2014 and a year of beautiful witness to our Catholic Faith.
This column will be short. We face still another sad anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court Decision of 1973 legalizing abortion on demand.
Recently, the chairman of the committee on pro-life activities of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sean Cardinal O'Malley of Boston, encouraged us to enter into the days before our yearly March for Life in Washington and in other cities on Jan. 22 with a nine-day period of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage beginning on Jan. 18 and lasting until Jan. 26.
Groups of pilgrims who are marching for life in Washington or elsewhere, or groups of young people who want to pray and witness, can be gathered together and blessed as they set out on their journey or as they reflect together as a youth group.
Perhaps as part of the nine-day prayer there could be a Parish Holy Hour of Reparation to pray for all those who have been affected by the tragedy of abortion.
The entire time can be called a "Novena for Life." There is much more information on the Bishops' Conference Web site under the Pro-Life activities section, and many resources can be found there. Whether we can travel or not, or meet together or not, we can all pray during January each year for the victory of life and for a renewed conviction and respect for the inviolable worth of each person.
January is also the yearly remembrance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who worked so strenuously to end racism in our country and throughout the world.
Our Archdiocese always has a special Liturgy to pray for the completion of Dr. King's vision about the human person, a vision that spoke of the content of one's character and not the color of one's skin.
Our celebration this year is on Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston. I hope many of you will be able to join me that day as we pray and work for this vision and goal, a genuine pro-life understanding of the human person who is loved by God and cherished for his or her particularity of race, culture and nation.
There is still much work to be accomplished for the change of hearts and the inner turning of souls to the truth of genuine respect for one another.
On Jan. 12 we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, the final day of the Christmas Season.
The one who clothes Himself with light as with a robe for our sakes deigned to become man and enter the waters of the Jordan: He refashions us by this action without tearing apart our human nature which He assumed but rather He heals it!
Human beings no longer have to hide or run away from the voice of the Father, for the Father now declares: "Here is my Son, listen to HIM!" We draw near and listen to Jesus as He invites us to His remaking of us! It is a beautiful feast. God's Blessings! †