Bishop’s Letter: Forgiveness

 

 

Forgive your neighbor’s injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.

Sirach 28:2

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

On Wednesday, August 26, during his catechesis for the General Audience, Pope Francis said, “In the face of the pandemic and its social consequences, many risk losing hope.  In this time of uncertainty and anguish, I invite everyone to welcome the gift of hope that comes from Christ.  It is He who helps us navigate the tumultuous waters of sickness, death and injustice, which do not have the last word over our final destination.”  If it is true that no one can save him/herself on his/her own, then our need, our longing for hope must give way to prayer.

Yes, we are called to pray.  In prayer we are able to offer hope through forgiveness.  The Eucharist is the source of forgiveness.   After we receive and are nourished at the table of the Lord, we are called as His disciples to go forth and bring forgiveness to our brothers and sisters.  If we cultivate forgiveness, we will find an infinite store waiting for us when we meet God.  For, could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD?

What is the type of world God is calling us to create?  It is a world through, with and in God.  Can we honestly say that this is the world in which we live?  How often are we distracted by the profane instead of recognizing the sacred of each moment?  God crowns us with mercy and compassion and asks us to do the same for others.  God’s benefits are sources of blessing and gratitude.  When we are deeply aware of all that we have received, then we are joyous and go forth to love and serve the Lord.  Each one of us is not alone.  We are already in company because God is with us.  We are called to support the lives of others and with them the entire world.

On September 13 we celebrate our senior priests who have cared for our souls for so many years.  There are 67 retired diocesan priests. They represent 48 percent of the diocesan priests serving in the Diocese of Orlando. Most of these priests still assist parishes on a regular basis, celebrating Sunday Mass weekly; performing marriages and baptisms; and visiting the sick in hospitals. Without these dedicated men, many parishes would not be able to offer the full range of Masses and Sacraments that are currently available.

We attend to the formative needs of the retired priests centered around four aspects: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. We annually provide financial support for these grace-filled men through outreach assisting with healthcare, nursing care, Advent and Lenten Gatherings, Convocations, Aging with Grace retreats, prayer services, safe environment certification, and celebrations of jubilarians.  I invite you to consider a financial gift through the special collection on September 13 for the care of our senior priests.

On September 11 we remembered with prayerful gratitude those first responders who died as they assisted the injured and dying after the terrorist attack on our country.  On Tuesday, September 29, I will celebrate the annual Blue Mass at 12:10 p.m. at St. James Cathedral.  The annual Blue Mass allows us as a community of faith to pray for our first responders.  They support the lives of others and with them the entire world.  I invite you to participate in the celebration of the Blue Mass via livestream at www.youtube.com/orlandodiocese. They are sworn to protect all life. Please pray for these men and women who are called to serve each one of us.

My sisters and brothers in Christ, may our daily living be an offering of forgiveness.  May this forgiveness through Christ bind us to one another in hope and excelling love.