Back in November, I told you how excited I was to be a part of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Assembly, a gathering of 110 parishes and more than 300 people. It was truly a wonderful experience of what it means to be the Body of Christ in mission for the sake of the Gospel. The assembly set pastoral priorities for the next three years, including voicing a strong desire for the Church to continue to emphasize works of mercy in the spirit of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
During this year in which we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, as promised I would like to reflect with all of you on the message that Our Lady left us. St. John Paul II stated that her message is even more relevant and urgent today than when it was first given.
Before diving into the essential message that our Blessed Mother gave to the children of Fatima (Lucia, Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francisco), it is important to recall that these apparitions officially have been approved by the Church.
A new book will be released in April by Cardinal Robert Sarah, who is the head of the office in the Vatican which oversees the Church’s liturgy. The title of the book is “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise.” I was asked to preview the book in advance of its publication. It is a must read — watch for it.
Without giving away much of its content, Cardinal Sarah’s book is a reflection on how we need more silence in our lives in order for us to encounter the living God. In the “hell of noise” which plagues our world today, we shut out the voice of God in our lives. We encounter God in the silence, where there is room for adoration and reverence for the one who created us and desires a relationship with us.
Faith communities are rediscovering the theology of hospitality and it is highly related to all of our ministries. We no longer lukewarmly welcome visitors, but enthusiastically expect them. Instead of simply trying to fit them in, we need to plan for the stranger.
Our celebration is a pledge to unite men and women. It is a pledge to acknowledge our unity in the Risen Lord even at a time when our disunity is manifest whenever we read the daily newspaper or tune in the evening news.