Bishop Daniel Thomas’ evening vespers and welcoming reception at Defiance St. John’s Parish on November 17 was tremendous! I knew many parishioners would not be able to come, because of prior commitments; but the turnout from Divine Mercy Parish was impressive–even despite terribly cold temperatures and some icy roads. I was very proud of the presence of our parishioners; and I know that the Bishop was very appreciative of the welcome he received in our deanery. I am also sure that all of you who were not able to attend could benefit from the Bishop’s homily; and those of us who did attend could certainly benefit from meditating again on what we heard. So here is what I remember:
“Holy Toledo!” The Bishop heard this phrase on the telephone a number of times when other bishops called him to congratulate him on his new assignment. Bishop Thomas wants to change this phrase into “Holy Diocese of Toledo”. How can this change occur? Think of two tripods–one comprises three things we need in order to be able to say “Holy Diocese of Toledo”; the other is made up of “how to get there”.
The first tripod, containing what we need: 1) disciples; 2) holy families; 3) holy vocations, especially to priesthood and religious life. Disciples are those people who are learning from Jesus Christ, those people who have given their lives to Him, and accept him as their Guide, their Savior, their Lord. We all need to become true disciples of Jesus Christ, living every aspect of our life for Him. If we have holy disciples in homes, then we will have holy families. Holy families image the life of the Trinity, and they transform society around them. Holy families are made up of individual disciples of Jesus Christ, each giving himself or herself in service to those other members of the family. You have a small community of people living self-donating love towards one another. Then, out of holy families comes holy vocations. People growing up in holy families will marry and raise their own holy families. So you have the vocation to marriage lived out in a holy way. But particularly in this day and age when vocations to the religious life and priesthood sometime seem scarce, it is important to say that such vocations come from holy families. Children in holy families learn the value of sacrifice. They live virtuous lives. They learn to look to Jesus Christ and offer Him their lives, with a willingness to become whatever He wants them to become in life, a desire to follow wherever He leads.
How do we get to the place of having holy disciples, holy families and holy vocations? Now we focus on the other tripod. Scripture and Tradition give us some very concrete tools to achieve this: 1) prayer; 2) fasting; 3) alms giving. The Catholic has to pray in order to become holy. Prayer has various components to it, but the Bishop is asking specifically that each person or each family commit to one extra Rosary a week, specifically asking God’s grace for all the disciples, holy families and holy vocations in our diocese. Somebody might say, “But Bishop, I already pray one rosary every day of the week.” The Bishop’s response? “Pray one more each week.” There are many ways to fast: giving up a favorite activity, giving up sweets, alcohol; having bread and water for one meal; etc. Please fast somehow once each week for the cause of holy disciples, holy families, holy vocations. Somebody might say, “But Bishop, I already fast on bread and water once each week.” The Bishop’s response? “Fast once more somehow each week.” Finally, there is alms giving. There are many ways to give alms: to the Church, various good organizations that help the poor, to those in your neighborhood or your sphere of relationships who exhibit a special need. Somebody might say, “But Bishop, I already give such-and-such from my salary each week.” The Bishop’s response? “Give a little more.”
With all of us in the Diocese of Toledo praying, fasting and giving alms, with the goal of becoming intentional disciples, holy families and responding to Jesus call to live holy vocations, we will certainly be able to say, “Holy Diocese of Toledo!”, rather than simply saying “Holy Toledo!”.
So that is what I remember of the Bishop’s homily. My recollection of the homily is not perfect, but I think the most significant ideas are expressed above. The homily was inspiring; and our Bishop is inspiring! Let us continue to pray for Bishop Daniel Thomas, asking the Lord to give him vision for our Diocese. And let us heed our Bishop’s exhortation to prayer, fasting and alms giving, for the sake of becoming all that God wants us to be.
On another note, in case some of you are not aware, the Vatican just sponsored a colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman. I see it as a bit of a corrective for anybody who would have been extremely confused by the mid-synod document that was prematurely released a few weeks ago when the Pope convened an extraordinary synod of bishops on the theme of “family”. There were significant problems with what was fed to the world by the media during that synod; and there were actually some less-than-helpful adminstrators of that synod. The Humanum conference met in the Vatican’s Pope Paul VI Hall the week of November 17th. The talks were wonderful. To watch the talks – a good number of which were in English, you could go to http://brandonvogt.com/humanum-videos-extraordinary-display-marriage-family/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheThinVeil+%28BrandonVogt.com%29. They are collected at that website. Thank the Lord for such a conference, which will continue to add beautiful material to the discussion of family, leading up to the World Meeting of Families next September, and the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the same topic next November.
I am contacting Sweetwater Sound Company, out of Fort Wayne, to have them come and advise on how to repair our sound systems at the Payne and Paulding campuses. A company consultant will be at our Payne and Paulding weekend Masses in the near future. Do not be surprised if you see somebody walking around during Mass; he will be doing so in order to make observations on the current situation. Somebody has already given some money towards the Payne sound system; and I am grateful for that.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,