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Archive for the ‘Bishop Paul S. Loverde’ Category

By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

“Habemus papam!” I can still hear the cheering from the crowd which eagerly awaited the emergence of the newly elected pope in St. Peter’s Square. On June 21, 1963, I was a seminarian in Rome studying at the North American College and was blessed to be in that crowded square. When Giovanni Cardinal Montini emerged having taken the name Pope Paul VI, I knew that he, too, embraced the evangelical and missionary zeal of our mutual namesake, St. Paul. I would have the privilege of being in the presence of Pope Paul VI — who is being beatified by Pope Francis on October 19 at the end of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family — two more times: once when he visited us seminarians at our summer villa, and later at a papal audience after my priestly ordination. Though these are fond memories, what has most been impressed upon my mind and heart is Pope Paul VI’s steadfastness in leading the Church through difficult times. For this reason, he has always been a pope for whom I have had a great deal of admiration and respect. His beatification is so timely at this moment in our history!

PaulVIPope Paul VI was elected prior to the second session of the Second Vatican Council, when the Church was experiencing what Pope St. John XIII had called an “aggiornamento,” or an updating. Theologians and clergy at the Council had the task of discerning how the Church could dialogue with the modern world — what aspects of the culture could be embraced by the faithful and which would have to be kept at bay because their integration would threaten the unity of the Faith. As Pope Francis has said, “Faith is ‘one,’ in the first place, because of the oneness of God. Faith is one because it is shared by the whole Church, in which we receive a common gaze. Faith must be professed in all of its purity and integrity,” (“Lumen Fidei,” No. 48).

Much of Pope Paul VI’s pontificate would be directed at answering lingering questions that remained after the Council had ended. Many of those questions had to do with marriage and the family in light of cultural changes that were taking place. Pope Paul VI is undoubtedly most remembered for his forthright teaching about responsible parenthood in his encyclical“Humane Vitae” (1968). Many have read “Humane Vitae” and reduced its message to a “no” from the Church about the licit use of artificial contraception. What they miss, however, is the document’s rich presentation of the biblical understanding of marriage that the Catholic Church has consistently promoted. The characteristics of marriage as designed by God include that it is “fully human,” “a total, personal friendship in which husband and wife share everything,” “faithful and exclusive of all others until death,” and “is ordained toward the procreation and education of children” who are a supreme gift to their parents (No. 9).

To enter into marriage, then, is to enter into a union that God intends to be total, faithful, and fruitful. Responsible parenthood must respect the design that God has for the sexual union which involves openness to life unless there is a grave reason why a couple cannot welcome a child. The Church’s teaching on the sexual union between husband and wife is one that promotes communication, mutual discernment, and a respect for the ability of man and woman together to cooperate in God’s creative work.

Sadly, many people still misunderstand the Church’s presentation of marriage in “Humane Vitae” and characterize it as antiquated and restrictive. The truth, however, is that the Church’s teaching increases a couple’s freedom — freedom to love one another as they have been created by God. In “Lumen Fidei,” Pope Francis explained: “Precisely because all of the articles of faith are interconnected, to deny one of them, even those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole,” (No. 48). The Church’s teaching on human sexuality, contraception, and marriage are related to all that She professes and teaches. They are a response to the revelation of Jesus Christ about the kind of love for which we are made. For that reason they remain relevant.

I find myself reflecting on the courage of Pope Paul VI these days, as our own culture wrestles with the nature of marriage. Though in our times, the biblical view of marriage may not be understood or popular, it does not for that reason lose its truth or beauty. St. Paul’s bold proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even in difficult times, inspires me as it inspired Pope Paul VI, to share the teaching on marriage in its fullness. It is not coincidental, then, at the end of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, an event during which bishops in communion with the pope are discussing how to best strengthen married love and family life, that Pope Francis will beautify a champion of these realities. I hope you join me in thanksgiving for the witness of Pope Paul VI, a man of God who has taught me to teach the faith with patience, love, and zeal! May he intercede for all of us, especially for married couples and families!

Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, and his recent letter on the new evangelization, Go Forth with Hearts on Fire, are available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.

This column first appeared in The Arlington Catholic Herald. View it here

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

Given by Bishop Loverde for the Quo Vadis Days Opening Mass at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

Dear brothers and sisters all in Christ Jesus, but in a very special way, the participants in this year’s Quo Vadis Days. My words are particularly addressed to you, dear young brothers.

Imagine this! God is standing before you and saying to you, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” What would you say? What would you do? It is mind-boggling almost! Now you would probably answer me: that could not happen. But it did, to Solomon, a mere youth, a young person like you, and we heard this in today’s first reading. The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night, and God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” And this happened not only once to Solomon, but it has been happening over and over again. And it is happening now — here! God is saying to each of you who are taking part in these Quo Vadis Days, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you!” So what will you answer?

Quo Vadis BishopI hope that you will echo Solomon: “Lord, give me an understanding heart, a heart that is able to distinguish right from wrong.” And why do I hope that you will ask for an understanding heart? Because an understanding heart is open to God’s plan. Yes, God has a plan for each one of us. Inner peace and true fulfillment can only be found when each one of us is in tune with God’s plan, whatever it may be.

“But,” you ask, “what is God’s plan for me? After all, if inner peace and true fulfillment can only be found when each one of us is in tune with God’s plan, whatever that may be, then it is essential that we discover what is His plan, His will for my life.”

In today’s gospel account, Jesus is teaching us through story — telling, that is, He is using situations familiar to his audience in order to teach a lesson; this type of story — telling is called a parable. Every parable which Jesus uses has a very important point or lesson for us to learn.

As we just heard, Jesus uses two parables. The first is about a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again. Out of joy, he sells all that he has so that he can buy that field and possess the buried treasure. The second parable is about a merchant who is searching for fine pearls and when he finds one pearl of great price, sells all that he has to purchase that pearl.

In the first parable, the person is going about his daily business. He is working, and in this situation, he is digging the earth. As he digs, he suddenly discovers a buried treasure. So, he goes off to sell all he has so he can buy that field and possess that treasure himself. In the second parable, the merchant is actively searching for pearls of the highest quality. When he finds one pearl that is exceedingly beautiful, he too sells all he has so he can purchase that one precious pearl.

Notice that while treasure was discovered unexpectedly as the person was doing the work assigned to him, the merchant was actively searching for the pearls of great price. Notice that in each situation, when the treasure was discovered and the pearl was found, the person sold all he had to possess his discovery.

Now we need to apply to ourselves the lessons which Jesus is teaching us through these two parables. After all, Jesus is speaking in a special way to each of you as you begin these Quo Vadis Days.

The buried treasure or the pearl of great price — choose either one — is the symbol of the plan God has for each one of us — for each one of you! But God’s plan will not just suddenly appear, like the result of pressing an app on your cell phone. As you do the ordinary things in life each day, you must be open to discovering God’s plan when at some specific moment, His plan will begin to become clearer to you; you will begin to discern more His will for you. In other words, each day, you will need to be open to God’s will as it becomes known to you. You must become like Solomon, asking only for an understanding heart, a heart open to discover that buried treasure, a heart open to purchase the pearl of great price, because, remember: the treasure, the pearl, is really God’s plan for your life.

So, discovering God’s plan for you, His will, is not something passive, like lying around waiting for it to somehow almost magically appear. No, discovering God’s plan for you, His will, is something very active. You must be actively engaged. How? By learning how to be in personal contact with Jesus, Who so loves you, by developing and deepening a really personal relationship with Him within the Community of His Disciples, the Church. You must also be actively engaged by listening to your heart, not your feelings, to begin to discern what really attracts you in terms of your future adult life. You must also be actively engaged by coming to understand the basic ways in which you — and I — live out our Baptismal consecration. At Baptism, each one of us was set apart — consecrated — for God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so that we can share in their union of love, in their life by imitating and following Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who came to be our Lord and Savior. In a word, God’s plan for each one of us is fundamentally to be like Jesus.

Saint Paul reminds us of this in the second reading today. “We know that all things work for good, for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Yes, God has chosen each one of us in advance, predestined us, to be conformed to the image of His Son, that is, to be like Jesus. So, first of all, each one of us is called to learn Jesus Christ, that is, to know Him as a person, as our Friend, our Companion, our Savior, our Lord. And this is what we mean when we say God calls us to live out our Baptismal consecration. But God’s plan for each of us becomes more specific and concrete as we grow from childhood through adolescence into adulthood. He wants us to be like Jesus in a specific or particular way: by living out the particular or individual vocation He wills for us.

So then, He wants us to be like Jesus in being a priest, or to be like Jesus in being a consecrated person as a religious brother or religious sister, or to be like Jesus in being married as a husband and father. There are wives and mothers among us, so He wants them to be like Jesus in being a wife and mother. He wants us to be like Jesus in being a single person pledged to chaste living for the sake of God’s Kingdom, or to be like Jesus in being a permanent deacon while also being married or unmarried. So then, we each have a fundamental or primary vocation to be like Jesus, as the faithful follower, disciple and friend. And we also each have a specific or individual calling or vocation to be like Jesus as a priest or a religious brother or religious sister, or a husband and father, or a wife and mother for those among us this afternoon, or a single person living chastely for the sake of God’s kingdom, or a permanent deacon.

Dear participants, in these Quo Vadis Days, learn more how to be with Jesus through daily prayer, and the reception of the sacraments, especially Penance and the Holy Eucharist. Learn more how to listen to your heart and how to seek the good advice of others as you discern what your heart is saying. Learn more how to never cease seeking God’s plan for you specifically, in your adult life. But above all, learn more how to discover the greatest treasure, the best pearl, that is, learn how to love Jesus Christ, to be with Him, to imitate and to follow Him all life long! “Quo Vadis,” I ask. I hear your answer: “To find and to be with Jesus my Lord!”

Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, and his recent letter on the new evangelization, Go Forth with Hearts on Fire, are available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.

This homily first appeared in The Arlington Catholic Herald. View it here

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

Given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul at Saint Jude Syro-Malabar Church in Centreville.

I treasure a small icon given to me as a gift, depicting Saints Peter and Paul embracing one another. Their embrace reveals their unity or one-ness of faith in the Lord Jesus and of love for Him and His Church. Indeed, they were one, yet very diverse in their temperaments, talents and roles of service within the Church. Nonetheless, each one — Saint Peter and Saint Paul — is clearly a model for us to imitate as we travel together, disciples of Christ Jesus united in faith and in love.

Cavalier d'Arpino - Madonna and Child with Sts. Peter and PaulSaint Peter was — and is — the source of unity within the Community of Christ’s Disciples, the Church. He is the source of unity in faith. When Jesus Christ asked His disciples at Caesarea Philippi: “But who do you say that I am?”, it was Peter alone who professed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Authentic disciples of Jesus Christ are united fundamentally by their profession of this same act of faith: “You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior, the Very Son of the Living God.”

Saint Peter is also the source of unity in leadership within the Church. In response to his profession of faith, the Lord Jesus clearly announced: “… and so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” By these words, the Lord Jesus appointed and confirmed Saint Peter to be the visible head of the Church, His Vicar on earth, the first among equals within the College of Apostles.

This role of leadership has continued down through the centuries; each successor of Saint Peter, the one who is the Bishop of Rome, the one we call “Holy Father” or “Pope”: he is the visible sign of unity in leadership within the Church Universal. Authentic disciples of Jesus Christ are united fundamentally by their communion with Saint Peter’s successor.

Saint Peter is likewise the source of unity among all Christ’s disciples: forming as they do the Universal Church as well as forming a particular diocesan Church. This unity is achieved through the union of each diocesan Church with the Church of Rome and all the other diocesan Churches. Every Eucharistic Prayer expresses this communion when it directly and clearly prays for unity between Francis our Pope and Paul our Bishop, by the members of the Arlington Diocese, or Jacob our Bishop, by the members of your Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago.

Saint Paul was — and is — the icon of evangelization. Persecutor of Christians turned convert, Saint Paul was irresistibly drawn to Jesus Christ and became passionately in love with Him. This conversion and deeply personal union with Jesus within the Community of the Disciples impelled Saint Paul to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to everyone and to the farthest bounds of his world. Yes, Saint Paul was passionate, zealous, determined, on fire with love for God and others, on fire to evangelize! And he remained so to the end, as we heard again in today’s second reading: “I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”

So, what lessons can we learn from Saints Peter and Paul?

(1) Saint Peter: Are we united by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Each day, through countless circumstances we are being asked: “Who do you say that I, Jesus Christ, am?” What is our real response? Our actions tell us! Are we united with the leadership within the Church? With our Holy Father, and with our proper bishop? Their style or approach in accidentals does not really matter. Are we listening to their teaching about faith and morals? Are we seeking to foster unity in faith by our concrete witness in daily life? Do we give to the Lord and to His chosen representatives our “obedience of faith”?

(2) Saint Paul: Are we daily seeking to be turned towards Jesus Christ more fully, to be converted, to be re-evangelized? Do we experience the joy of the Gospel, a joy rooted in our daily encounter with Jesus Christ? Are we eager to share the love of Jesus Christ and His message of hope and life with others? In a word, are we heralds and protagonists of the New Evangelization, our hearts on fire?

As members of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago, and this local visible expression, the Saint Jude Catholic Church here in Centreville, are you on fire to proclaim by your daily witness: “You are Christ, the Son of the Living God” and to invite everyone to come to know and love Jesus within the Community of His Disciples, the Church?

One final lesson to be learned. We are in the midst of the United States Bishops’ third Fortnight for Freedom, an extended period, from June 21 through July 4, for us to pray, to become more informed, to dialogue, and to witness for the cause of religious freedom, here in our own country and beyond. The freedom of religion is the first freedom. When the answer to the question “Who am I?” is “a disciple of Jesus Christ,” then every other action of ours flows from that identity. If I am not free to answer God’s call to love fully as Christ’s disciples, then all my other freedoms lose their meaning. Why have free speech if we cannot speak in praise of God? Why have freedom of association if we cannot gather as two or three and have Christ present among us?

It is our first freedom not simply as Catholics, but also as Americans. It is our first freedom because it comes first in our Bill of Rights — the guarantee of our freedom from an established state church and our freedom to exercise our religion without state interference. It is our first freedom as Americans because it was the reason why the first settlers came from England, so that they might be free to practice their beliefs free from the threat of oppression and governmental coercion.

At the same time, we can never allow our rights — even our right to freely worship — to become merely a political club by which we beat back our political or ideological enemies. We have rights in freedom because we have duties in love. Freedom of religion is not rooted merely in some sense of personal spiritual fulfillment. It flows from the duties we have as children of God to respond to His providence.

We serve our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and friends, our community and country best when we exemplify Christ the obedient Son who carries out the will of the Father. Our country is stronger and our people better when Christians are free to be images of Christ to the world, in our faith in God and our charity towards others. We know that our religious freedom is not some selfish design to fulfill our own plans, but our generous response to the love we have received from God. And so we insist on our rights in liberty not simply for our own sake, but for our neighbors and for the generations to follow. This is freedom’s ideal — that we are free to pursue the truly good, and so to serve the common good. This is why the theme for this year’s Fortnight for Freedom is “Freedom to Serve.” Please make your voices known in upholding and defending religious freedom.

Yes, the icon of Saints Peter and Paul is much more than a beautiful image of these two saints embracing each other in the unity of faith and love, although it is that in a very concrete way. The icon is the call and challenge to imitate Saints Peter and Paul, surrendering in faith to Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior; proclaiming Christ to everyone; and upholding and defending religious freedom. It is fundamentally and ultimately to live what we believe, not only in the private sector of religious worship, but also in the public square of concrete witness and involvement — for the common good and the salvation of the world!

Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, and his recent letter on the new evangelization, Go Forth with Hearts on Fire, are available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.

This homily first appeared in The Arlington Catholic Herald. View it here

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From the Office of Communications

**EDITOR’S NOTE: Bishop Paul S. Loverde today issued a statement regarding the Supreme Court of the United State’s decision in favor of Hobby Lobby in the widely watched religious liberty case. This statement appears on the Catholic Diocese of Arlington’s website here.

(ARLINGTON, VA) – The Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of ABishop Anniversaryrlington and spiritual leader of Northern Virginia’s nearly half million Catholics, made the following statement today on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case:

Today’s decision seems to be very good news for Americans who wish to run their businesses without government coercion to violate their consciences by paying for coverage of sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraceptives for their employees.  Catholic business owners and family businesses should not have to cede their religious liberty at the marketplace door, and today’s Supreme Court decision, though closely decided, provides reasonable and welcome relief.

As we observe this week the third annual Fortnight For Freedom, we can take real satisfaction in the Court’s ruling. But as I noted this past Saturday during the panel discussion with Catholic University of America President Dr. John Garvey and March for Life President Jeanne Monahan at our diocesan Religious Freedom Assembly, the government’s unprecedented HHS mandate remains a clear and unacceptable violation of religious liberty. Under the Obama Administration’s so-called accommodation for religious institutions, the funds used in the procurement of coverage for sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraceptives still come from religious employers and their employees.  Further, the administration’s mandate penalizes the Church for its long history of charitable works, targeting our colleges, hospitals, and other facilities that serve others regardless of their faith.

I urge the Catholics of the Diocese of Arlington to continue to pray, sacrifice, and advocate for religious freedom here at home and abroad. The Church and its related institutions must be free to provide health care coverage for their employees that is consistent with our religious and moral principles, and without the threat of government coercion.  Church institutions have provided healthcare and education to our fellow citizens since our nation’s founding. We have always supported health care services for all people, but pregnancy is not a disease, and the Church cannot abandon the dignity of the human person and submit to complicity in the destruction of innocent life.

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Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, and his recent letter on the new evangelization, Go Forth with Hearts on Fire, are available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

**EDITOR’S NOTE: This column originally ran in the Arlington Catholic Herald (view it here). It serves as a reminder to us to continue praying for religious liberty, especially since the Diocese of Arlington will be celebrating the Fortnight for Freedom tomorrow, June 28, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Herndon. For more information, please see the Facebook event at on.fb.me/1lPC1PF. **

St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More – Patron Saint of the Diocese of Arlington

Freedom to Serve is the theme for the third annual “Fortnight for Freedom,” June 21–July 4. I join my brother bishops in urging you to participate in this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action devoted to upholding religious freedom at home and abroad.

What does it mean to be truly free? Who or what can make us free? For whom are we seeking freedom this Fortnight? I suggest three emphases that can illuminate the meaning and significance of authentic religious freedom: truthfulness, heroic witness in Christ, and vigilance.

The Gospel of John relates that as Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he was harassed by those who resisted the truth that He was revealing. Jesus assured those who believed in h
im: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (Jn 8:32). Truth is not simply factual data. It is essential because it expresses what is in accord with the nature of persons, things, and actions as they really are. Jesus did not hesitate to tell the truth in love and chose to identify Himself as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

In his series of audiences on Theology of the Body, Saint John Paul II explained how the opening chapter of Genesis celebrates the splendor of a free creation and the original design of God for human happiness. He describes what occurred when those at the fountainhead of humanity sinned, violating their relationship with God and one another. The effects reverberated throughout the world. Fundamentally, all sin is deceptive, seeming to promise happiness while undermining what is genuinely truthful and good. As Genesis relates, Adam and Eve, in their unhappy shame for what they had done, tried to lie even to God!

Whenever there is an attempt to subvert the truth about the reality of God, or the meaning of life and creation, freedom is lost. Respect for the true nature of people and things gives way to domination and the struggle to control people and events by force and legal fiats. Of ourselves, we cannot achieve or maintain freedom. We have just completed an intensified liturgical celebration of our Redemption in Jesus Christ and have sacramentally experienced how Christ, “the Way, the Truth and the life,” has indeed set us free.

The martyrs, and all who live a heroic witness to the truth in the midst of a world disfigured by sin, inspire and assist us as we enter the Fortnight for Freedom, which does not come without cost. We are accompanied by those who have been willing to suffer, even die, for the truths in Christ that make us free. Saint Paul encouraged the Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1).

How privileged we are to have Saint Thomas More the principal patron of our diocese! Under duress, he remained faithful to the truth of divine and ecclesial realities rather than yield to the force of an earthly king. Although condemned to death, Thomas More, like Christ, was truly free and faithful. After his sufferings in the Tower of London, Thomas joked with the man assigned to be his executioner, who would drop the sharp-edged blade on his neck. In a later age, the poet Paul Claudel, would honor such inner freedom in his admonition: “To mount the cross laughing.”

A third way to increase understanding of religious freedom is accurate knowledge of dangers to religious liberty in our nation and throughout the world. In a word — vigilance. Laws, mandates, and judges’ decisions are requiring actions that violate the truth of the human person and override principles of moral responsibility. For example, institutions and agencies that provide health care, serve immigrants, or enable the adoption of children are threatened with severe penalties or closure for refusing to perform services that violate the truths of sexuality and marriage. Business owners seeking exemptions from governmental directives that violate their consciences are facing crippling fines. Protecting religious freedom to be of service to others, especially to those who are in most need, without losing moral integrity, is urgently needed.

And so, as we once again mark these ongoing challenges with a Fortnight for Freedom, I urge you to participate in a tangible way, to inform yourselves, to advocate, to pray and to sacrifice. This is no small matter because our ability as Catholics to participate in civil society as full citizens is threatened, with directs impacts on the vital works of charity the Church performs. I am marking the Fortnight in a particular way on June 28th from 9 a.m. to noon at St. Joseph’s Church in Herndon, as I host a diocesan event explaining clearly our concerns regarding religious liberty and providing for intercessory prayer. Speakers include Catholic University of America President John H. Garvey in what promises to be an informative and meaningful gathering, and I urge you to join me if at all possible. We must be free to serve others as Jesus Christ has mandated us to do!

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

This is part one of a two-part series on the Holy Spirit and Pentecost by Bishop, published in the Arlington Catholic Herald.

As Pentecost nears, we pray repeatedly:“Veni, Sancte Spiritus. Come Holy Spirit!” Who is the Holy Spirit? How do we know this?

At the Last Supper, on the night before His Passion, the Lord Jesus shared the most explicit and intimate revelations about the relationships among the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity, including revelations about the Holy Spirit. It must have amazed and frightened the Apostles celebrating Passover in the Upper Room when Jesus said: “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (Jn. 16:7).

How could it possibly be good for the Apostles that Jesus would go? It would take Jesus’ death and resurrection, prayerful waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit, and finally the fiery outpouring of the Spirit’s presence upon them, before they would know how good it was to receive the Holy Spirit!

This is important for us because in reflecting upon the Three Persons of the Merazhofen_Pfarrkirche_Josephsaltar_Altarblatt_PfingstwunderTrinity, it is the Holy Spirit who is so often the least understood as a Person. We know the familiar signs and images of the Holy Spirit — fire, breath, wind, and dove — each pointing to some quality of this Third Person of the Trinity. It can be easy, though, to cling to the images while losing the dynamic reality of the Person to whom they point.

When Jesus told the Apostles on that first Holy Thursday that He and the Father would send the Holy Spirit, He spoke of the Third Person of the Trinity as “another Counselor.” This meant that Jesus Himself was the “first Counselor” whom they had known familiarly in daily life.

Why the name “Counselor”? This term that Jesus used, in Greek parakletos, in the language and culture of the time means a “defense lawyer”! Obviously, the term in Aramaic means the same. St. John Paul II in his encyclical The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World, offers a splendid reason for this, saying: “It is precisely this Spirit of truth whom Jesus calls the Paraclete — andparakletos means ‘counselor’ and ‘intercessor,’ or ‘advocate’” (No. 5). The name points to the immediate and effective presence of a divine guide and protector.

In speaking of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles as the One who would guide and teach them, Jesus also said that the Spirit would enable them to remember what He had told them. Jesus promised something incredible: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (Jn. 16:12f). What the Spirit would “hear” would be the inner Trinitarian communication among the Three Divine Persons.

No wonder, then, that the Holy Spirit is known by other titles that describe a Divine Person Who carries forward through history what Jesus gave in His total self-gift as Bridegroom of the Church! The Mystery of Christ, taken as a whole, demands faith, said St. John Paul II. To be faithful witnesses to this Personal Mystery requires the help of the Holy Spirit, supreme guide and light of the human spirit. The Church, then, also calls the Holy Spirit by the intimate names of “uncreated Love-Gift,” “Person-Love” and “Person-Gift” (No. 10).

The Catholic Church is sometimes accused of being staid and narrow. The Holy Spirit, however, dwells in the Church and in Her believers, to offer the possibility of making the Good News permeate the entire world, of making all things new and vibrant with redemptive love. That is why fire, wind, and bird-flight are such apt loving terms for the Third Person of the Trinity.

In a recent homily, Pope Francis said: “The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God in the Church. He keeps the Church going . . . .The Holy Spirit with His gifts guides the Church. You cannot understand the Church of Jesus without this Paraclete whom the Lord sends us for this very reason.” (Homily on May 12, 2014).

In my next column, I want to share with you the particular significance of Pentecost for us this year, and what the always-new coming of the Holy Spirit can mean for us at this moment in the life of the Church. So that we may receive this Divine Person with open hearts, let us pray often “Veni, Sancte Spiritus, Come, Holy Spirit!”

Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, and his recent letter on the new evangelization, Go Forth with Hearts on Fire, are available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.

This homily first appeared in The Arlington Catholic Herald. View it here

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

I wanted to take a moment to write to you about the continuing challenges to the nation’s traditional understanding and legal recognition of marriage. Indeed, due to activist lawsuits here in Virginia, the issue is more pressing than ever, and the Commonwealth may stand on the brink of a forced, dramatic and far-reaching break with history and Church teaching with regard to the definition of this basic building block of families and communities.

Eight years ago, the will of the people of Virginia was expressed clearly and decisively as citizens cast their ballots to safeguard in the state constitution the age-old definition of marriage as between one woman and one man. At that time, along with Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo, I wrote to you about “the unique and vital role the institution of marriage has in society” and how the result of the referendum would have “profound significance for the future of the family, the most fundamental social structure of our society.” We noted that marriage “had a design and purpose long before any nation, religion, or law was established,” and that “the proper role of both church and state is one of stewardship, to preserve our Creator’s great gift of marriage from one generation to the next.” Now, these words are all the more true as the challenge seems ever greater.

March for Marriage LogoIn the time since the vote here in Virginia, when only Massachusetts, under pressure by state court order, had redefined its marriage law, seventeen states and the District of Columbia have legalized marriage between individuals of the same sex. It is true, we have seen public opinion shift to some degree under the relentless advocacy of those who would change marriage from its basic meaning and purpose. This is all the more reason for us to make the case for marriage and its importance to children, society, and, yes, God’s plan for us.

St. John Paul II spoke of the transcendent role of marriage this way:

“In a marriage, a man and a woman pledge themselves to one another in an unbreakable alliance of total mutual self-giving. A total union of love.

Love that is not a passing emotion or temporary infatuation, but a responsible and free decision to bind oneself completely, ‘in good times and in bad,’ to one’s partner. It is the gift of oneself to the other.

The love of husband and wife in God’s plan leads beyond itself, and new life is generated, a family is born. The family is a community of love and life, a home in which children are guided to maturity.”

And Pope Francis affirms this basic teaching:

“Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensable contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple,” (“Evangelii Gaudium,” n. 66).

These words truly convey the Lord’s plan for those called to marriage. It is the ideal, yes, and one we pray that all who enter into this union may achieve. Of course, there are failings sadly visible all around us — adultery and high rates of divorce, broken and suffering families — but that does not change the intrinsic worth of marriage and family willed by the Lord and proclaimed by the Church. Further, we know that traditional marriage bolsters society and is best for children. The social science is clear that children do best when raised by a mother and father in a stable marriage.

I know that some of you have resigned yourselves to the redefinition of marriage, or perhaps are not convinced that defending the true definition of marriage is essential to the well-being of society, but I urge you, by example and prudent and thoughtful words, to stand for marriage at this critical time in our history. This is a fight worth having, and the time is now! As I wrote to you when we voted on marriage here in Virginia, “Preserving and promoting marriage is an integral component of our shared civic responsibility.”

Finally, I would encourage you to participate in the March for Marriage 2014 in Washington, D.C., being held this year on June 19th. The unchanging reality of marriage is being tested right now, perhaps to the point of no return, and our diocesan participation is very necessary. To learn more, go to http://www.marriagemarch.org.

Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, and his recent letter on the new evangelization, Go Forth with Hearts on Fire, are available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.

This column first appeared in The Arlington Catholic Herald. View it here

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