E-News to the Faithful Feast of the Holy Family
Today is the sixth day of the Octave of the Nativity of our Lord in which we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. I hope you and your family are having a blessed Christmas season!
As mentioned above, today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. God entered our reality as part of a family! As the family goes, so does society. Thank you to all who participated in the Advent Family Challenge and for praying the novena for families.
Speaking of our families, this weekend we celebrate the solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. What a blessing that Mary is the Mother of the Church and our Mother too! We make a lot of ‘new year’ promises, but perhaps one of them can be to imitate St. John at the foot of the cross, who after Jesus told him to “Behold his Mother,” took her into his home.
I am looking forward to attending the SEEK conference as part of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) in St. Louis next week. It’s awesome to see 20,000 plus college students on fire for the faith together. I am grateful for our college campuses at Kansas State and Fort Hays State, which are wonderful places where students can encounter the love and mercy of Jesus in a special way.
The Church in our diocese celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany the weekend of January 7-8. The word Epiphany means manifestation, as the Church celebrates Jesus being revealed as the light of the nations. Three mysteries are encompassed in this solemnity: the adoration of the Christ Child by the magi, the Baptism of Christ, and the wedding feast at Cana. Extra candles and/or lamps may be placed around the sanctuary and in other parts of the Church to honor Christ revealed as the Light of the Gentiles. Additionally, it is customary to replace the images of the shepherds at the crib with the three Magi and their gifts.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord usually falls on a Sunday, but this year it is celebrated on Monday, January 9. Jesus, the Holy One, places Himself among us, the unclean and sinners. He freely humbles himself at the hands of John the Baptist at the river Jordan and dedicates himself to the redemption of all as he takes upon himself the sins of the whole world and buries them in the waters of the Jordan.
With the Baptism of the Lord, we begin Ordinary Time. It’s a reminder that when we live out our own baptismal call to holiness and do small things with great love, these ordinary moments turn into something extraordinary.
Speaking of holiness, Pope Francis recently wrote an apostolic letter based on the writings of St. Francis de Sales titled Totum amoris est, or “Everything Pertains to Love.” Pope Francis said that St. Francis de Sales is a saint who teaches us that “devotion [to God] is meant for everyone, in every situation” citing the saint’s words that “In Holy Church, everything pertains to love, lives in love, is done for love and comes from love.”
The week of prayer for Christian Unity in the Church is January 18 – 25, culminating on the day of the Conversion of St. Paul. We pray that Christians move toward the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer at the Last Supper “that they all may be one.”
Speaking of praying that all may be one, we recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 16. His dream was that “we all may be one.”
Several days before Christmas, I was fortunate to celebrate Mass and share a meal with men incarcerated at the Ellsworth State Prison. Before Mass, we heard many confessions. During the Mass, five men were baptized, and three others joined them in receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. These men may be in prison, but they were set free by the forgiveness of their sins.
January 23 is the day of prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. Approximately 75 students from our Catholic High Schools are attending the Right to Life March in Washington D.C. Additionally, many of us are attending the Right to Life rally in Topeka. Please keep in your prayers the respect for all human life.
Speaking of our Catholic Schools, one of my favorite times of the year is Catholic Schools Week (last week of January) in which I get to visit our schools and meet with our students and staff. As I’ve said numerous times, there is a lot of love in our Catholic Schools, and I am so grateful to our families, students, teachers, and staff who are instruments of this love.
Fr. Gale Hammerschmidt will be at the EWTN Studios next week to discuss Prayer and Action with Fr. Mark and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal on Life on the Rock. The episodes will be aired in late January or early February. We will be sure to let you know when to watch. It is great to see the work being done in our Diocese with Prayer and Action. The Good News is spreading throughout the country.
We have a lot of wonderful projects taking place in our parishes across the diocese. I will be dedicating a new altar at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Beardsley on January 14. Then on January 28, I will be dedicating the new St. Isidore Catholic Church in Manhattan, and the following day, I will bless Christ the King Church in WaKeeney, which went through a major renovation project. I am super grateful to all the parishioners who supported these endeavors!
We offer our prayers for our Pope Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who as Pope Francis recently mentioned, is very ill. I still remember what someone told me many years ago: Pope Benedict was as on par with the ten greatest theologians with his brilliancy, but had the piety of someone receiving his First Holy Communion. His first encyclical was Deus caritas est or “God is Love,” which is worth a read.
Speaking of books, I just finished reading Alessandro Serenelli: A Story of Forgiveness by Charles Engel. Serenelli was the man who, as a teenager, stabbed young St. Maria Goretti to death. While in prison, he had a dream in which Maria appeared to him which led to a complete conversion. After he was released from prison after several decades, Serenelli went to visit Maria’s mom. When he asked for forgiveness, Maria’s mom said, “God forgives you, Maria forgives you, and I forgive you.”
In the preface of the book that I mentioned above, it stated that accompaniment, which is a phrase that the Holy Father uses often, means “will not abandon.” That statement has led me to much reflection. How can I be better at accompanying people, and not abandoning them. Please pray for me!
I hear so many positive comments on The Register and faith magazine. Many of you have commented how much you have learned from faith magazine’s focus on the Sacraments. The next magazine coming out at the end of January is on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I hope you enjoy reading about reconciliation, and I hope it inspires you and others to partake in this remarkable gift of mercy.
Speaking of Mercy, I am happy to announce that the Diocese of Salina will be having a Year of Mercy beginning on Ash Wednesday (February 22, 2023) until Divine Mercy Sunday (April 7, 2024). I am working with our pastors in scheduling a plan to visit every parish in our diocese during this time. More details will follow in your Parish bulletins, The Register, SDNB, and on social media.
I just started reading a book titled John Fisher and Thomas More: Keeping Their Souls While Losing Their Heads. Both these saints were martyred for their witness to the truth in defending the sanctity of marriage.May the Presence of our Savior fill you with hope and joy.
With my love and prayers,
Prayer to the Holy Family:
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in you we contemplate the splendour of true love: to you we turn with trust. Holy Family of Natareth, grant that our families too may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic churches. Holy Family of Nazareth, may families never again experience violence, rejection and division; may all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing. Holy Family of Nazareth, make us once more mindful of the sacredness and inviolability of the family, and its beauty in God’s plan. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, graciously hear our prayer.