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Posts Tagged ‘Bishop Loverde’

By: Kathleen Yacharn

Generally, it’s much easier to get someone to tell you about a bad time they had at a restaurant, a hotel, an airline or concert venue than it is to get someone to tell you about the good time they had. Most of us don’t bother with writing online reviews for the decent or even great meals or stays we had. But why is it that usually within a day or two of an uncomfortable time with a rude server, long wait, or bad food, we’re signing up for an account on Yelp or Urban Spoon, ready to unleash our righteous anger, of course as a civic duty to help others avoid the place?

Isn’t it because people are so much more motivated by strong emotion than by satisfied entitlement? When we have even a great time, we might tell a few people, but isn’t that what we expected in the first place? Instead of appreciating the good things in our lives, we take them in and move on with a sense of complacency, which unfortunately bleeds into our civic and moral lives, too.

sleeping babyFor those of us who believe in protecting God’s creation, from conception to natural death, we have to be careful to avoid that cultural complacency. If we are pro-life, then we have to live that truth 24 hours a day, seven days a week, not just once a year during the March for Life. We have to communicate the message tirelessly because it is a matter of life and death and anything less than ceaseless effort can tip the scales in people’s hearts and minds toward the great lie that is the culture of death.

I write this asking you to take the time today, literally just a few minutes, to support life in a meaningful way. The Virginia Catholic Conference is the public policy agency representing Virginia’s two bishops. Bishop Paul S. Loverde of our Arlington Diocese and Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of the Richmond Diocese. They need you to comment on yet another machination of the abortion industry trying to promote their cause at the expense of the lives of innocents. Read below the VCC’s request, share it with your friends, and truly support life today.

 

Your Comments Needed as Abortion Center Regulations Review Begins

The Virginia Department of Health is now reviewing the recently enacted abortion center health and safety regulations (several years before regulations are typically reviewed) due to a recent directive from Governor McAuliffe. 
Click here to tell the Board of Health that this review process is premature and that these commonsense regulations must be maintained. Public comments will be accepted until July 31, 2014.

Again and again, the abortion industry claims that these regulations are unnecessary and expensive. Yet, inspections of these abortion centers repeatedly reveal health and safety violations that are endangering Virginia women.


One particularly egregious violation was uncovered during a biennial 
licensure review inspections at one Virginia abortion center. The abortion center’s complication log revealed that 15 of the 18 complications recorded in January 2014 were “incomplete medical terminations” (RU-486). In 11 of those cases the women returned for another chemical abortion, while 4 women decided to have surgical abortions. RU-486 is only approved by the FDA to be used in the first 49 days of pregnancy with a “failure” rate of 8%.  This incredibly high complication rate puts women’s well being at great risk. If these abuses are occurring while abortion centers are regularly inspected, imagine the conditions with no regulations! Please click here to tell the Board of Health to maintain all the regulations because the abortion industry cannot self-regulate.


If you are not a member of the Conference’s advocacy network, click 
here to receive regular Conference email alerts and updates. Please like us on Facebook, follow@VACatholicConf on Twitter, and sign up for our blog at www.fromthetibertothejames.wordpress.com.

In prayer and in public, your voices are urgently needed to bring Gospel values to bear on vital decisions being made by those who represent you.

~~~
The Virginia Catholic Conference is the public policy agency representing Virginia’s Catholic bishops and their two dioceses.

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By: Natalie Plumb

We celebrated a tremendous victory on Monday when the Supreme Court decided in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects closely held, private for-profit corporations from being forced to comply with the HHS mandate under Obamacare. The mandate would force these corporations to provide insurance coverage of abortifacient drugs and devices, regardless of the owners’ religious conscience, and despite their faith that forbids complicity in abortion. For cogent Catholic responses to this, read this articlethis article, this article and this article.

HobbyLobby

I must not be the first to notice that, in the midst of this grand decision, we are also in the midst of the Fortnight for Freedom, “a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power — St. Thomas More, the Patron of the Diocese of Arlington, St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.”

Today, on July 4, we celebrate our Independence Day. That means freedom. The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom of speech; freedom of the press; freedom of religion. As the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Thank you, Supreme Court, for upholding those roots and those rights. But, as Bishop Loverde stressed in his column, never stop praying; never quit fighting! The battle has only just begun.

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By: Kevin Bohli, Director of Youth Ministry

This past week the Arlington Diocese Office of Youth Ministry sponsored the 25th annual WorkCamp in Quicksburg, Va. More than 800 teens, 250 adult leaders, and 100 contractors spent a week repairing homes at 150 worksites. The teens spent the past eight months fundraising and preparing to leave behind their cellphones and video games, sleeping on hard floors, waiting in lines for food and showers, and doing hard physical labor in the 90+ degree weather. The week included daily Mass, regular prayer, and devotions five times each day. Eucharistic Adoration, Confessions, talks and reflections took place each evening, and there were two chapels available for personal prayer time throughout the day.

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On the worksite from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, the teens built wheelchair ramps, replaced roofs and windows, repaired bathroom showers and toilets, patched floors, and many other projects designed to help make the residents’ homes warmer, safer, or drier.

This is hardly a typical first week of summer break for teenagers.

At the end of the exhausting week, the teens were invited to provide feedback on their experience. Here is just a small sample:

“Had the time of my life, no doubt!” –Brian

“I had a really good experience here and I really appreciated going to Confession. I haven’t been in 10 years, so I’m really glad that I went.” –Lia

“WorkCamp didn’t only strengthen my faith in Christ, but it also taught me how much it means to have a relationship with God.” –Michael

“Thank you so much for a great experience; I’ll definitely make time to come next year, even if I am turning 18 that week, because it will be better with God having him near me during that.” –Karen

“I learned about how my service can impact my own life rather than just how it can impact another’s.” –Kevin

“I love going to daily Mass, it helps me feel like I am ready to start the day.” –Gretchen

“The most helpful part of the week was Confession and Adoration – a priest gave me a card for the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which was really cool!” –Megan

“I love WorkCamp! It gives me hope and inspires me to evangelize.” –Casey

“Best experience of my life.” –Macy

“My resident had a big impact on me. She was a living example of our theme to ‘love courageously.’” –Teresa

“I have a greater desire to live my life more for Christ and live more simply.” –Abigail

“WorkCamp has been a powerful experience throughout my high school years. I am lucky to have been able to attend all four years. Thank you.” –RJ

“WorkCamp opens my eyes and I definitely plan to work on being a better friend, deepening my relationship with Christ, and doing more work for the poor.” –Sarah

For 25 years, WorkCamp has helped teens serve the poor in our community. However, perhaps more importantly, it’s through the service, prayer, and community of WorkCamp that young people discover the joy of living a life for Christ.

 

All photos courtesy of Gerald Martineau.

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By: Michael J. Donohue

Last week, the Catholic Press Association held its annual convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Catholic media remains a vital component of evangelization and community-building within the Church, as well as an indispensable source of news and opinion, from the parish level to the universal Church, for all Catholics.

Our local Church is blessed to have a very successful diocesan newspaper, the Arlington Catholic Herald, which was once again recognized with numerous awards at the CPA’s annual gathering. Please take a moment to read the article below regarding the Herald’s latest well-earned recognition.

Catholic Herald wins 18 awards

The Arlington Catholic Herald won 18 awards last night at the Catholic Press Association awards banquet, including a third place finish in the general excellence category.

The annual gathering of Catholic media professionals was held in Charlotte, N.C.

Bishop Loverde congratulates the Arlington Catholic Herald staff.

Bishop Loverde congratulates the Arlington Catholic Herald staff.

Nearly every aspect of the paper’s production was recognzied, including graphic design, advertising and writing.

Current staff writers Dave Borowski, Katie Collins and Maria Pia Negro all received individual honors, as did former staff writers Katie Bahr and Gretchen Crowe. Borowski’s honors included a first place award for headline writing.

Graphic designers David Garcia and Ashleigh Buyers also were recognized for their ad designs and graphic work.

 

Mike is the Director of Communications for the Diocese of Arlington and Bishop Loverde’s spokesperson. A native of New York, he holds a BA in Political Science from the George Washington University. Mike and his wife have two sons and live in Washington, D.C., where they attend Church of the Annunciation.

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

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By: Michael J. Donohue

The Third Person of the Holy Trinity has always held for me a certain mysterious fascination. Within the profoundest of all mysteries, the Trinity, there exists the Holy Spirit. No mere creature, or lesser part, the Holy Spirit, if we can but know it, is what a short book I read at college called “Our Greatest Friend.” (To be completely accurate, the edifying little book is titled, “The Holy Ghost—Our Greatest Friend,” available from TAN Publishers…one of those great devotional booklets for the layman left out of print and nearly lost in the early post-conciliar period.)

I am just old enough to have first thought upon the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost. One of my earliest memories, at the age of three, perhaps four, is of my Irish grandmother teaching me the Sign of the Cross. In the name of the Bartolomé_Esteban_Perez_Murillo_003 - Holy Trinity Holy FamilyFather, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. That traditional first, innocent step into the greater reality of existence, guided by a loved one blessed with faith. Along with Grandma Ella’s tutorial in her wonderful brogue (which had been softened I’m told only marginally after decades in her adopted country) naturally came the shamrock and Saint Patrick’s metaphor of the Trinity. I accepted it, of course, as a child does and because my grandmother told me. However, for a long while, my understanding of the Holy Spirit never really advanced much beyond that simple, happy acceptance.

To some degree, this reflected a certain willingness in me to accept teachings passed to me by those who formed my faith, learned priests, devout family members, and like-minded friends. But in the case of the mysterious Holy Ghost, this left a bit of weakness in my understanding of a central teaching of our faith. For that matter, for many of us, I think the Holy Spirit manifests last of the Three Persons in our intellectual and devotional lives. Perhaps this is fitting given the great work He stands ready to help us realize.

“After Pentecost the Gospel began to be proclaimed by the Apostles, notably by Peter, who spoke in their midst and in their name. Chosen by Jesus during his public life, invested by him with an official mandate, they had received full powers to bear witness to the saving event of the resurrection and to discuss in God’s name the conditions under which men could receive its effects. But it was only after Pentecost that, filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to exercise these powers” (The Christian Centuries, Volume I, Jean Danielou).

We are all called, baptized, and confirmed  to be worthy vessels of the Holy Spirit and do great things, whether seemingly large or small, public or private. The Church was born at Pentecost, and the Third Person of the Trinity, our Comforter, Advocate, and Helper, the Paraclete, was sent by the Father and entered formally into all our lives, as Jesus Christ had told his disciples. It is certainly worth our time to learn more about Him, incorporate Him into the understanding of our faith and our purpose, and yes, pray to Him, “Our Greatest Friend.”

I commend to you our great bishop’s two-part column series this month in the Arlington Catholic Herald on the Holy Spirit and Pentecost, and which was published on the Encourage & Teach blog. Bishop Loverde’s motto as a bishop is this blog’s eponymous Encourage and Teach with Patience, which perhaps is quite apposite when it comes to the Holy Spirit. But as the good pastor, teacher, and spiritual father that he is, Bishop Loverde wants us to fully share in the Love of God. “So, just as the Word of God is the Son of God, so the Love of God is the Holy Spirit” (Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, St. Thomas Aquinas).

Mike is the Director of Communications for the Diocese of Arlington and Bishop Loverde’s spokesperson. A native of New York, he holds a BA in Political Science from the George Washington University. Mike and his wife have two sons and live in Washington, D.C., where they attend Church of the Annunciation.

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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: Sister Clare Hunter

Why is a nun writing about pornography? Because I just spent the past three of four days learning about how it is destroying our culture and promoting sex trafficking and sexual abuse of children. I repeat — causing the sexual abuse of children. Children. Being used. By adults. For sex[1]. I am furious!  It was poor timing. I had not realized, when saying “yes” to the Friday through Saturday conference “Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation,” Coalition-End-Sexual-Exploitationthat Monday was the morning study day at the Chancery on sex trafficking in Northern Virginia, as well as the effects of pornography on our culture. I’m angry, disgusted, overwhelmed, and would actually like to physically harm those using, selling, and promoting pornography of all kinds, especially the large number of those using child pornography. Hey, novelty sells. That’s what the statistics and experts say. Vomit.

Do you know what is going on? Honestly, I really didn’t want to know. I wanted to stay in my bubble. I knew it was bad, but when I realized that we were no longer in the tame, “normal” world of the Playboy mansion. An 11-year-old boy (the average age when a child sees porn ranges from 10-12; look it up) will immediately enter a “hardcore” porn site when surfing the internet on his computer, or most likely on his cell phone.

If 87 percent of men and 31 percent of women are using pornography[2], (50 Shades of Grey, not included) then it is in YOUR home, YOUR workplace, YOUR school, YOUR family.  News reports constantly remind us that women and children are being used for sex and labor around the world. But it is happening here, in our own country, our neighborhoods, and families. We know this, and we don’t even need this week’s news “McLean student behind underage porn site,” to remind us. I know you know it is bad.

Here are some resources I think might be helpful. At least a start!

  • Let us begin with prayer!

Jesus, Lover of chastity, Mary, Mother most pure, and Saint Joseph, chaste guardian of the Virgin, to you I come at this hour, begging you to plead with God for me. I earnestly wish to be pure in thought, word and deed in imitation of your own holy purity. Obtain for me, then, a deep sense of modesty which will be reflected in my external conduct. Protect my eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror only Christlike purity. And when the “Bread of Angels becomes the Bread of me” in my heart at Holy Communion, seal it forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures.

Heart of Jesus, Fount of all purity, have mercy on us.

  • Effects of pornography on the brain (10 times more addictive than heroin!), Donald Hilton, M.D.
  • Prevent teen sex trafficking in Northern Virginia – Just Ask
  • Protect your family and yourself! Covenant Eyes accountability and filtering
  • Read Bishop Paul Loverde’s letter “Bought with a Price
  • Learn more and get help at the Catholic Diocese of Arlington

[1] Wolak, Mitchell and Finkelhor. Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later. Alexandria, VA. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 2006.

[2] Carroll, Jason S., et al. “Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults. Journal of Adolescent Research 23.1 (2008) 6-30. (Study examined population of emerging adults, aged 18-26)

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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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