A Shephered's Message
June 18, 2013
The tragic hotel fire in Southwest Houston on May 31 claimed the lives of four young and brave firefighters. Their deaths have affected the whole city and brought vividly to our minds how dangerous is the work of protecting and saving us from the ravages of fires. The men and women who are trained for this work are professionals; they are also daily heroes. For the most part, they go about their perilous labors quietly and unobserved. Last few weeks have reminded us of how precious these civil servants are. May the Lord grant eternal rest and peace to these firefighters and grant consolation to their bereaved families. Let us not be afraid to show our gratitude to all those who protect us. We also offer prayers for those firefighters who were injured and still in the hospital as a result of the fire. Please keep their anxious families and friends in mind.
I was privileged to offer the opening and closing prayer at the Memorial Service to the fallen firefighters. Their sorrowing families were surrounded by such an impressive circle of care from Houston firefighters and others from across the country. This solidarity is magnificent. May the Lord support them and give them all strength.
Though the Archdiocese celebrates the Sacrament of Confirmation throughout the year, the Easter season is an especially busy time for the reception of the sacrament by the young people, usually upper high school age, in our parishes. Last year over 11,000 young people were confirmed, the numbers this year are even more. Addition, we have a practice in our Archdiocese of celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation on Pentecost weekend for those adults who, although they were baptized and received their first Holy Communion, were never confirmed. The celebration is preceded by a time of special catechesis in our parishes. This year some 1,400 adults were confirmed at Pentecost. Furthermore, at the Easter Vigil this year, some 2,200 plus catechumens and candidates were baptized, received into the Church and confirmed along with receiving their First Holy Communion at that most beautiful Vigil of all vigils! Numbers do not tell us everything, but they do indicate that there are dimensions of our local Archdiocese that are dynamic and “evangelizing.” Once anointed with the Chrism Oil in Confirmation, every adult, young person or child is “sent” and made a genuine “mission person” for Jesus. Every “little anointed one” is asked to witness to THE Anointed One and to allow the gifts of the Holy Spirit to work in such a way that confirmed Catholics make a difference in the world, in work, in school and in their parish communities. Jesus Christ is God the Father’s “human face” turned towards the world, and confirmed Christians are the face of Jesus Christ witnessing to God’s love. We have our marching orders!
Pope Francis asked every Bishop in every Cathedral of the world to join him in a synchronized way on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) for a Holy Hour of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament to pray for the unity of the Church, peace in the world and a renewed attention to the poor. His own Holy Hour took place in Rome from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 2nd. Since that was the Sunday morning hour of 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. here in Houston, we had to cut back to a Holy Half Hour of adoration at Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral. Along with a fine group of parishioners, the Archdiocese’s synchronization took place. We all realized how great the gift of the Holy Eucharist is. Also, we saw and knew the beauty of adoration and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. We prayed for the Pope’s intentions and for all the clergy, religious and faithful of this Archdiocese. Please keep your faith alive, and deepen it with the conviction and understanding of the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Make time to spend moments of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in quiet contemplation and go forth to see Jesus in every person, especially the poor!