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Archive for the ‘Bishop Paul S. Loverde’ Category

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. ### 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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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

If I asked you to choose the single event that has most influenced and touched human history, what would you choose? The invention of the alphabet? The discovery of the New World by Columbus? Maybe you would name a medical advancement that saved millions of lives, or an invention that allowed us to accomplish things previously never imagined. Yes, human history has included many world-changing discoveries, inventions and advancements, but, in point of fact, none of them would be considered the single event that has had the greatest influence on our history — at least, not for the followers of Jesus Christ.

Morning of the Resurrection by Burne-JonesFor us, that single event — the one that has most influenced and touched our history — is the reality we gather here this Easter day to celebrate with so much joy: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the reality at the heart of the good news — the Gospel — which Saint Peter proclaims in today’s first reading: “This man (Jesus) God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us,…who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.” This single event is the very core of our Christian faith, so much so that without the Resurrection, there would be no reason to believe, no reason to hope; there would be no Christianity.

Furthermore, this reality is central to all of the sacraments, especially the holy Eucharist we gather to celebrate during this Mass and in every Mass, for without the Resurrection, there is no living Christ to encounter through the outward sign of each sacrament. The Resurrection of Jesus is the basic source for our joyous festivities today and for all the outward signs that emphasize these festivities: the joy-filled songs, the bright colors, the flowers of spring, and the prominent Paschal candle.

This one single event, the Resurrection of Jesus, has indeed most influenced and touched all of human history, because through it, the Lord Jesus has won for all peoples of all times the victory of life over death. Through it, Jesus has reunited the Lord God with His people once again and forever. By the paradox of His dying and rising, Jesus shares with each believer His victory of life over death, and unites each believer with God in the new bond of friendship, harmony and love.

Even more, this one single event makes all the difference to us because the rising of Jesus Christ from the dead to new and unending life radically changes our outlook on life: how we journey with genuine and enduring hope through life as we serve one another in true charity. The reality which we celebrate and relive through this Easter liturgy makes the real difference — the only difference — in how we live our daily life.

Of course, we shall not escape the uncertainties and the contradictions of life; we shall not avoid frustration and difficulty, suffering and pain, and, in the end, human death itself. No, we shall not be spared any of these, but the reality of the Resurrection allows us to endure and to cope with them, to pass through them without being completely crushed by them. Ultimately, we shall experience what Christ gained for us: victory, not defeat; joy, not sorrow; peace, not conflict; life, not death; and all these, not for a time, but forever.

Yes, we already know that the rising of Jesus Christ from the dead to new and unending life is precisely why we can live differently: with hope and strength. But, we often forget. Today, like the women at the tomb, we are again being reminded: “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for He has been raised just as He said… .” Before we leave this holy place with this good news echoing in our hearts and return to our daily routine, the Risen Lord Jesus will embrace us with His very own self in holy Communion.

Then, filled with the life-giving strength which comes from our encounter with Him and the joy and hope intertwined with His life, we shall be able to carry out the instruction given us by the angel: “[G]o quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead!’…” Yes, this one single reality is too good to keep to ourselves. By the very way we face the realities that confront us each day, we will witness to the amazing power that comes from our union with the Risen Lord. We shall, in fact, be evangelizing with hearts afire!

Today, we are once again in touch with the one single reality that makes all the difference: here and hereafter. As I wish you a blessed Easter, I echo Pope Francis: “Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome Him as a friend, with trust: He is life! …be confident that He is close to you, He is with you, and He will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as He would have you do” (Easter Vigil Homily, March 30, 2013, Vatican Basilica).

Alleluia!

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

Each year on March 19, Catholics throughout the world interrupt the austerities of Lent to celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, patron of fathers and of the universal Church. Coming as I do from a Sicilian family, this feast has always carried a special significance. My father was not unlike St. Joseph insofar as he sacrificed mightily for his family. A man of deep and quiet faith, he showed me what it means to be a man.

My father could not have imagined the challenges involved in protecting a family from today’s relentless assault of pornographic material. It has truly become mainstream, nearly impossible to avoid even by the most cautious. This pornographic culture stems from, and feeds back into, an extremely distorted view of human sexuality. We are deeply confused about things my father’s generation would have taken entirely for granted, and the results of that confusion are everywhere evident.

When I was ordained a priest in 1965, two in ten marriages ended in divorce; that rate has more than doubled. Abortion then was illegal; today over a million babies are aborted annually in this country alone. Back then fewer than 300,000 Americans were incarcerated; now one in thirty-one adult Americans is in prison or on probation.

As a young priest in the 1970s, I served for a decade in campus ministry settings. In those years, the first fruits of the sexual revolution were already apparent. Pope Francis’s image of the Church as a “field hospital” in the midst of such wreckage would describe it well.

Today’s “field hospital” must aggressively treat the vicious cancer of pornography, which lies at the heart of our societal ills. “Unchastity,” wrote Joseph Pieper in The Four Cardinal Virtues, “begets a blindness of spirit which practically excludes all understanding of the goods of the spirit; unchastity splits the power of decision.” Over the years I have witnessed the nature and effects of pornography’s splitting powers in our families and communities.

Nearly eight years ago I wrote a pastoral letter on the subject, Bought with a Price, a new edition of which is being released today. The pornography epidemic is something to which all people of good will must devote more attention and talk about more openly, but first we need to understand something of the scope and character of the problem.

Those who deny that the act of viewing pornography has any negative consequences must understand just how toxic the situation has become. It may be that a man now in his forties, say, remembers being a curious adolescent, stealing glances at a magazine in a neighbor’s home or in the aisle of a convenience store. As morally problematic and harmful as that act surely is, such behavior was arguably slow to become habitual and the physiological and psychological consequences were infrequently severe. That experience is far removed from what young people face today.

The most graphic forms of pornography are now easily and anonymously accessible on the internet and on any smartphone. Many among us are now caught in patterns of addiction that rival those of drugs and alcohol in their grip on the individual, if not in the disruption that results in their lives. Depression, anxiety, isolation, marital strife, and job loss can all be intensified for those caught in the web of this addiction.

More subtly, though, current research underscores what we are hearing in the classrooms, counseling sessions, and in the confessional: This addiction is not merely behavioral, a bad habit that can be broken like any other. Chronic viewing of pornographic material impacts one’s brain chemistry in a manner that can “hook” a person and lead to a quest for increasingly lurid forms of pornography. Over time, more and more is needed to produce the same effect. The brains of habitual users of pornography are strikingly similar to those of alcoholics, and the part of the brain involved in moral and ethical decision-making is weakened by viewing pornography. Once brain chemistry is remapped, it becomes very difficult for one to “reset” to a sense of normality in the future. Any man can tell you that these images are often very hard to forget.

While the suffering experienced by the addict cannot be overstated, we must recognize that there is also social harm. As a pastor, I have seen how damaging this shift continues to be in family life, courtship, and marriage preparation. One of my great concerns is the impact this plague is having on children. What is their future if their parents’ marriage is destroyed by this type of infidelity, or if they themselves are exposed to such toxic material long before they are able to experience the joy of true love and romance? Even the smallest child today often has easy access to a parent’s or sibling’s smartphone and is surrounded by screens.

When my pastoral letter on pornography was first issued, a high school student in my diocese wrote that “if a person knew that after viewing pornography he would be a bad example for his kids, would objectify his spouse and friends, and lastly destroy his relationship and vision of God, he would not do it.”

Just as some drugs are described as “gateways” to more serious substance abuse, a young person who experiences lust disconnected from an actual human person is at tremendous risk for failing ever to understand the beauty of God’s gift of human sexuality. Is not the so-called “hook-up” culture evidence of this? In addition, while it is certainly not the outcome for all who become involved with pornography, might it not be reasonable to posit that the dramatic rise in human sex trafficking is partly fueled by a pornographic culture?

And yet, despite all this, there is hope. Both scientists and believers are sounding the alarm. We know much more about the physiological aspects of this addiction and how best to reverse them. Behavioral change is possible, though this is not simply a question of behavior.

This is not a problem a person can solve on their own. Alongside the central commitment to prayer, the communal element of the recovery process needs to be given special emphasis. Very often, a key factor in one’s descent into pornography addiction is a lack of affirmation, acceptance, and trust in one’s relationships. An important part of the ascent, then, can also be the sharing of this struggle with others, allowing their love and concern to aid in the healing. As Pope Francis has said, “No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take place in the human community.”

Pornography thrives in the shadowy silence of isolation, but the warm light of love and friendship can do much to help cast it out. Women certainly have a critical role in this fight and should take a stance of absolute intolerance toward pornography, but in a particular way men need to be recalled to their God-given role as protectors of their families and of society if we are to overcome it.

A man in one of my parishes told me that Bought with a Price woke him up to the many ways in which his pornography use affected him as a father and husband. “I now understand,” he wrote, “that the true character of a man is shown in how he acts when nobody is watching.”

That is a lesson that St. Joseph, whom we honor today, knew well. Let the battle for purity begin.

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, is available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.

This article first appeared in First Things. View it here.

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By: Caitlin Bootsma

It’s a week into January. Have you made your resolutions yet? If so, have you kept them so far? To be honest, I can’t even remember the resolutions I made last year. I’m pretty sure there were health and financial components to them. I’m sure I made some progress on them, but they certainly weren’t permanent resolutions.

Bishop Loverde addresses us, at the beginning of this new calendar year, about our call to make permanent commitments — permanent gifts of self. While not dismissing the need to become healthier, save money, etc., Bishop Loverde reminds us that we were created to be a gift.
 
Man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” – Gaudium et Spes
 
How are you called to be a gift in 2013?

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

holyinnocentsToday, we remember the Feast of the Holy Innocents, those children who were slaughtered in King Herod’s attempts to kill the Christ Child.  The Gospel of Matthew recounts that all of the boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem under two years of age were massacred and “Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more” (Matthew 2:17-18).

This anguish is all too familiar to many of us in the wake of the senseless deaths in Newtown, Connecticut. Our prayers have been with those who have lost their young children, as well as those who lost loved ones who had reached adulthood. Many of you have shown your concern through support for those families, the local Catholic parish and the wider community.

One of the first questions that arise after tragedies such as these is: how can we work to prevent this in the future? Certainly, we must reexamine enforcing reasonable gun control and increasing our care for those suffering from mental illness. Yet, even deeper than our response to  those contributing factors, is the need to reclaim a respect for life in our culture.

Over the years, our profound respect as a culture for the dignity of each human person has slowly eroded. This lack is demonstrated in the gratuitous violence seen in video games and other forms of entertainment, in the overwhelming number of abortions of innocent children, through an increase in instances of domestic violence and, yes, in the way that we treat one another on a daily basis.

In remembering the Holy Innocents and all those that suffer from our society’s disrespect for human life, we must seek to renew our love for the sanctity of life. This renewal begins with you and with me; it begins in the family. We are called to educate children, so that they know how to respond to the violence they see in television shows, in news reports and even in the school yard. Each one of us is responsible for recognizing that each person’s life is an immeasurable gift. We cannot instantaneously cure the world of all of its ills, but one interaction at a time, we can begin to change the culture, thereby creating anew a culture of life!

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

Upon returning from my second visit to the diocesan sponsored missions in the Dominican Republic, I have been reflecting on what a mutual blessing these missions are for our diocese as well as for the people of the Banica and Pedro Santana parishes.

Bishop Loverde with diocesan priests and Dominicans

Banica and Pedro Santana are  rural communities located in the Dominican Republic on the border with Haiti. Fr. O’Hare, the current pastor of Banica and Pedro Santana, compared these extraordinary places to Nazareth, all three out of the way locations that people perhaps doubted would produce much fruit (recall the words of Nathaniel: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:43). Yet, Banica and Pedro Santana, like Nazareth where Christ was born, have produced a great many fruits.

My visit to both parishes last week was in recognition of the twenty year relationship between the Diocese of San Juan de la Manguana and the Diocese of Arlington. Accompanying me were three of the diocesan priests who had served there over the years (as well as Fr. Hanley and Mike Flach, the editor of the Arlington Catholic Herald). I was touched by the great love and admiration that the people had for their former priests. I was moved as well by the simple and profound faith of the people. They are impoverished materially, but have a rich spirit of inner joy and a communal spirit, ready always to assist one another.

Much has been accomplished through the rewarding relationship between our two dioceses. One physical manifestation of this is the new chapel at Sabana Cruz, which was a gift of donors from our diocese. Also, the Catholic community in each parish, with support from diocesan priests and volunteers, demonstrates its spiritual strength through its many altar servers as well as programs such as Bible studies for adults and young boys and girls. I had the opportunity to meet with college-aged men and women from these parishes who have chosen to serve the youth in their community, instructing them in the faith, while at the same time maintaining their studies and prayer lives.

I was inspired by the spirit of those living there as well as the challenges the priests and the missionaries (including three Brazilian sisters as well as lay people) encounter daily. For example, their outreach to those who lived out in the campos requires travels of up to five hours or more on a regular basis over rough roads, mainly unpaved with ruts. Yet, despite the difficulties, there is a joy that heartened me throughout my time there.

I certainly returned home exhausted by the rigors of the schedule, the unfamiliar and rustic setting and the effort it takes continually to speak a foreign language. Inwardly, however, I rejoice and am reinvigorated by the exhilarating growth in these people in the Dominican Republic. The people there remain in my heart and I urge each of you to continue to pray for our Dominican brothers and sisters as well as for the priests and missionaries present there.

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

As it gets colder in our area, busy schedules are definitely picking up the pace. If you are anything like me, you have more meetings at work, more social events to attend and more tasks to complete before winter. As we prioritize all of these things, Bishop Loverde has been encouraging us lately to focus on living out the faith in our families.

  • This past spring, he wrote about the gift that marriage is to so many of us. He writes: “Matrimony is a natural reality for humanity, a good thing created by God for the mutual love and support of man and woman and the procreation and rearing of children. In marriage man and woman form a beautiful living image of the Triune God as they live in a bond of self-giving love and welcome new life into the world” Read more here.
  • Several weeks ago, Bishop Loverde gave us four pillars on which to base our family life. He gives practical ways to integrate our faith into our lives – yes, even with our very busy schedules! Read more here.
  • In this week’s Herald, the Bishop focuses on how we can integrate the liturgical year into our homes. Consider reading through his suggestions and seeing if you would like to adopt any of these traditions in your home. Read more here.
In these columns, Bishop Loverde shares some of the traditions and ways that he has integrated the faith into his life. How does your family celebrate your faith? Are there special feast days you recognize, family traditions that you keep alive for holidays?

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