In this Sunday’s Gospel, a man possessed by an unclean spirit recognizes who Jesus is, “the Holy One of God.” Jesus heals the man. So often we want others to change. The conversion of our world begins with our own conversion. May we continue to ask Jesus to heal us of the things in our lives that are not Christ-like by transforming our stony hearts unto His own heart.
Ash Wednesday is February 17 which begins the Lenten season. What will we do for Lent? The Church asks us to pray, fast, and give alms. May I offer a suggestion to you? Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, preached the following words last Sunday, which was Word of God Sunday: “Let us set the Gospel in a place where we can remember to open it daily, perhaps at the beginning and at the end of the day, so that amid all those words that ring in our ears, there may also be a few verses of the word of God that can touch our hearts. To be able to do this, let us ask the Lord for the strength to turn off the television and open the Bible, to turn off our cell phone and open the Gospel.”
When Jesus was asked why his disciples did not fast, he answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.” Jesus was taken away from them on Good Friday. Hence, the Church invites us to fast on Fridays, especially during Lent. It seems like fasting is not a common practice, even among people in the Church. Jesus fasted. He invites us to fast as well, as a form of penance, to help turn our hearts away from sin, to prepare ourselves for the Glory of Easter and to become more like Him.
The Letter to the Hebrews tells us: “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” A suggestion for Lent is to form small groups within your parish community. Perhaps you can form a small group that goes over the Sunday readings, or discusses a good book. It is a great way to express and share our faith in a safe place.
Speaking of small groups, the Diocese of Salina is partnering with Real Life Catholic for a Lenten video series. We are inviting you to Journey through The Search on formed.org with your family or small group of your choosing. Each week Chris Stefanick from Real Life Catholic will be guiding us on how to use the series during Lent, in your own small group, during his weekly show The Life You Were Made For. Join us in participating for free by clicking this link. We are hopeful that you will join us this Lent as we watch The Search! If you are interested in participating, please contact your parish or email@example.com for more information.
In 2011 when I lived in Rome, my mother and my brother’s family attended Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina. Pope Benedict XVI was the presider. The Church was so packed none of us ever saw him! During the distribution of the ashes, the priest simply sprinkled ashes on top of our heads. This is the normal custom in Rome. Saying that, the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Liturgical Offices are recommending that ashes be distributed in this manner in all parishes. Therefore, I am strongly recommending that on Ash Wednesday, the priests pronounce the words “Remember that you are dust…” or “Repent and believe in the Gospel” once over the entire assembly, and then sprinkle the ashes over the heads instead of smearing them on their foreheads. The rationale for it, of course, is to avoid repetitive physical contact with different people and to speak fewer words directly into their faces. It is good to note that many countries have always sprinkled the ashes in this manner. We might be more in sync with the rest of the Church by doing this. The Old Testament describes various instances where people put on sackcloth and sat in ashes or poured ashes over themselves (see Jonah 3:5; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8 and others).
Please see the letter that Archbishop Jose Gomez, President of the United States Catholic Conference, wrote regarding the inauguration of President Joseph Biden. HERE.
The 48th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision was on January 22nd. The National March for Life, which would have been today, is currently being live streamed HERE. Many of our Catholic Schools have held prolife Masses and/or assemblies over the last week. Building the Culture of Life begins with our young people, and our families!
One hundred and sixty years to this day, Kansas became the 34th state to join the Union. It joined California, Minnesota, and Oregon as a free state, rather than a slave state. Amazingly, within a constitution that upholds the dignity of the human person by prohibiting slavery, it is in the first article of the Kansas Bill of Rights which states “all men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” that the the Kansas Supreme Court in April 2019 “found the right” to abortion.
Speaking of that decision by the Kansas Supreme Court, this past week the Kansas House and Senate passed the Value Them Both (VTB) state constitutional amendment for life. VTB will now be on a statewide ballot in August of 2022 where Kansans can vote for VTB to become part of the Kansas Constitution. VTB is needed after the State Supreme Court declared abortion to be a “fundamental right.” There is much work still to be done. We need to educate and motivate ourselves for this very important cause. We have Truth and the power of the Rosary and other prayers on our side. To learn more about Value Them Both, go to www.ValueThemBoth.com.
I am looking forward to being with our wonderful students, teachers, and staff as I travel throughout the diocese visiting nearly all our 15 Catholic schools. We are so blessed to have in-person learning. One bishop that I recently talked with stated that in the county he lives in there is a 50% truancy rate among remote learning students.
Lawmakers are renewing the debate over how much the state should subsidize private education with a program that trades tax credits for private school scholarship donations. This would be a great blessing to our Catholic Schools. Please pray for this endeavor.
Next weekend, I will be at St. Isidore’s at Kansas State University for the SEEK21 FOCUS conference. Recently, I enjoyed reading testimony from a student at Fort Hays State University about how the FOCUS missionaries there impacted her life: “This year was a very trying year for me. My summer was full of grief from the sudden loss of a loved one and the uncertainty of what was in store for my family and my life. Jesus has impacted my life this year through FOCUS in many ways. The most important way is through the FOCUS missionaries placed at Fort Hays State University. When I began another semester at FHSU, I was looking forward to another year at the Comeau Campus Center with my friends and accountability partners. Instead, Jesus gave me the FOCUS missionaries. I could have never imagined such a blessing. They have shown me what it means to be in an authentic friendship with someone who loves Jesus as much as I do and what it means to be a faithful child of God during this challenging phase of my life. Through Bible studies, Catholic conferences for university students and just spending time together, I have grown closer to Jesus in my Catholic faith. The light of Jesus shines through our FHSU missionaries. I do not know how my year would have turned out without them, but I know it would not have been as good.”
The Diocesan Rural Life Commission is hosting a Rural Life Seminar on Saturday March 13, 2021, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. offering both virtual and in person attendance. The seminar will be held in the Hall of Bishops at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina, with lunch provided. Four remarkable speakers will give talks titled: “God’s Country: Faith, Hope, and the Future of the Rural Church;” “Responsible Stewardship of Farmed Animals/Animal Welfare;” “Wealth and Poverty – Feeding the World with Animal Agriculture;” “Making Rural Life ‘Ag-Citing’ for Kids.” The day will also include a Rural Life Message and Mass with Bishop Vincke. For more information and online registration beginning February 1st, visit the Salina Diocese Website HERE.
I receive many questions/comments on vaccinations. Please go to our diocesan website for information pertaining to questions you may have.
The world day of consecrated life is February 2. We recognize all those consecrated in our diocese. May they continue to be a light to the world.
I have asked our priests to begin holy hours for vocations to the priesthood beginning in March. I hope you can participate in these holy hours at your local parish and join in prayer for this intention.
National Marriage Week is February 7 – 14, culminating with World Marriage Sunday on Valentine’s Day, February 14. Blessings to all married couples. As the family goes, goes society.
February 11, on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, is the World Day of Sick. We pray for those most in need of healing.
We are beginning the Bishop’s Annual Appeal beginning the weekend of February 6-7. Thank you in advance for your generosity. I am also grateful for your support of Catholic Charities and the wonderful work they are doing in our diocese in caring for the least among us.
On the back page of the National Catholic Register there is a great article about our own Basilica of St. Fidelis in Victoria. What a wonderful testament of the Catholic Faith in our Diocese.
In Christ’s service,
Inspiration from the Saints
On February 11, we celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes. Our Blessed Mother appeared to a poor, young girl—St. Bernadette. A few quotes from her:
“If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces… never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again. That’s the beauty of being alive… We can always start all over again. Enjoy God’s amazing opportunities bestowed on us. Have faith in Him always.”
“I will become a saint if I am humble, docile, and generous.”
“Why must we suffer? Because here below pure Love cannot exist without suffering. O Jesus, I no longer feel my cross when I think of yours.”
“I shall spend every moment loving. One who loves does not notice her trials; or perhaps more accurately, she is able to love them. I shall do everything for Heaven, my true home. There I shall find my Mother in all the splendor of her glory. I shall delight with her in the joy of Jesus himself in perfect safety.”
“The Blessed Virgin used me like a broom, and then put me back in my place.”