Tuesday, June 27, 2006

To "Reflect the Light"

Kudos and thanks to Tom in DC for transcribing Archbishop Wuerl's installation homily. It's about time, not to mention a great service.

In case you haven't yet checked the 27 minutes of wonderfulness -- its place as a national message cannot be underestimated -- some snips:
The words of St. Paul seem as appropriate for the Church of Washington as they did nineteen centuries ago when he addressed them to the Corinthians, so I appropriate them in this greeting to you, I give thanks, "I give thanks to my God always on your account, for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in Him you are enriched in every good way."

Aware of my own personal limitations, I nonetheless embrace this call joyfully, with faith in God's providential plan, a plan that includes each and every one of us, and I give thanks to God as well, that we are to begin today the next step in our faith journey together.

In all of my priestly and episcopal ministry, I have tried to do the very best I can with the collaboration and the help of all of those around me, and with reliance on God's grace. I count on your help and prayers in our faith journey together that begins a new chapter today.

Just three weeks ago, as I prepared to leave Pittsburgh, I met with a group of youngsters who are residents in one of our diocesan homes for at-risk youngsters. And a thirteen year old spoke to me of Washington. His words, while lacking the complexity of St. Paul, were every bit as sincere. He said to me, assuring me as only a thirteen-year-old could, "Bishop, I've been to Washington. You'll love it. It's a great place."....

The work of a bishop is the same for every shepherd. For every shepherd of a diocese, the work is identical. All of the bishops who honor this archdiocese with their presence here today share the same apostolic mission. We may approach our ministry out of our own particular gifts, but what we do is already determined by a mandate that finds its origin and definition in Jesus' love for His flock. It is by His rule that the office and responsibilities of the Apostles continues in this manner in our age.

In his October 2003 apostolic exhortation Pastores Gregis, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II tells us a bishop is a teacher of the faith and herald of the word. He's a minister of the grace of the High Priesthood, and he's charged with the pastoral care of the flock entrusted to his charge. The Apostles, and their successors, like Peter in today's Gospel, have been sent out to be witnesses to the mystery of God continuing to be with us today in and through His Church. And they're sent to nurture that flock. Bishops are the link, the link of continuity, to the Apostles, who ensure our connectedness -- the connectedness of everyone in this basilica -- our connectedness, twenty centuries later, with the person of Christ, His revelation, His Resurrection, and His Eucharist.

Just a little over three weeks ago, immediately after arriving in Rome for some meetings that were already scheduled, I invited the seminarians from the Archdiocese of Washington and those from the diocese of Pittsburgh studying at the North American College in Rome to join me for the celebration of Mass in the crypt of the great basilica of St. Peter, a tradition we have had for many, many years. And we gathered just a few paces from the tomb of the head of the Apostles, Peter, and nearby the burial place of John Paul II. We stood, we prayed in this sacred space, which is a reminder to all of us, everyone in ministry, that we share the wondrous task of linking the person of Christ, His Gospel, and His love, with our world, our now....

Just one block from here is the Office of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which among other things has the responsibility to present and reflect the voice and the positions of the bishops in this country on pastoral and public policy matters. To each of us, however, individually falls the weighty charge to proclaim the Faith, to apply its challenge to our day, and to unfold the implications of that Gospel to the issues and circumstances of our moment. The bishop's first task, so we are told in the Second Vatican Council, is to teach.

As our beloved Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI so beautifully said in his encyclical letter, God is Love, the essential mission of the Church is expressed in the charge, "Proclaim the Gospel, celebrate the sacraments, and exercise the ministries of charity." [See Deus Caritas Est, n. 25a] And I look forward to working with all of the clergy, the religious, the lay women and men of this diocese in manifesting, to the best of our abilities, the Kingdom of God here in this portion of God's vineyard. Because the bishop is also called to offer leadership. No one, no one bishop, no one carries on this mandate alone....

In an age that so desperately needs to hear the Gospel of Life and witness the splendor of truth and live the challenge of faith and reason, the Church, you and I, gathered around the successors to the Apostles, always one with Peter, must lovingly, persuasively, and fearlessly, reflect the light of Christ.

Among the saints commemorated today in the liturgical calendar, June 22, is St. Paulinus of Nola. In a letter to a bishop in Dacia, sixteen hundred years ago, Paulinus wrote words that are as relevant now as then. He taught that the task of the bishop is to instruct others so that they too might be able, in everything that they say and do, simply to echo Christ....

It's also the role of the Church to see that the light of the Gospel shines on all of the discussions, all of the debates that help to mold our culture and our society. The voice of the most cherished values, the voice of the great teaching tradition rooted in God's word and God's wisdom, simply has to impact on our culture and our society. The wisdom of God is the thread that needs to be woven into that fabric that will create a truly good and just society. This aspect of ministry will bring the Church into relationships with many, many in the cultural, educational, social service, and political world. The voice of the Gospel must be heard in any discussion that involves human dignity, human solidarity, development, and ultimately holiness....

In the second reading of our liturgy, from the Acts of the Apostles, we are reminded that the Church, the enduring presence of Christ in the world, doesn't hover formlessly over the earth. It's structured, visible, made up of the faithful gathered around their bishop and priests. In the second chapter of that ancient book describing the Church, we find what I like to think of as the description of the first Catholic parish. They came together to pray, to listen to the teaching of the Apostles, to support one another as a community, and to celebrate the Eucharist.
Mhmm. Mhmm. And mhmm.

Oh, and when, on the morning after, I saw Tom's response to the Thursday blog-venting, a certain ecclesiastical residence in the capital rollicked with laughter....

Reuters/Joshua Roberts