by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
It has been two years since I began writing these weekly columns for The Leaven.
Many of you have expressed to me your appreciation for these articles. I have found them a helpful tool in attempting to fulfill my apostolic responsibility as a teacher of the faith. With God’s grace and your prayers, I hope to be able to continue communicating with all of you through these weekly columns.
By the time this edition of The Leaven arrives at your home, I will have returned from the annual retreat for the bishops of Region IX (Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa). This year’s retreat master was Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who, during the pontificates of the late John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI, has served as the preacher for the papal household.
The very existence of the ministry of the preacher for the papal household is a reminder that we all need to hear the Gospel proclaimed regularly, no matter the level of our spiritual formation, our education, our vocation or our responsibilities. We all need to ponder with frequent regularity the word of God, allowing it to illuminate what God’s will and desire is for us in the particular circumstances of our life.
Being your archbishop has been very helpful for my prayer life, because I am constantly confronted with my own inadequacy in the face of the decisions I have to make which will have significant consequences upon the life of the church in our Archdiocese. In a similar way, I have heard mothers or fathers speak about being driven to prayer because of the weight of their responsibility as parents. Parenthood has been aptly described as “just one long prayer.”
All of us need to make time to reflect with regularity on God’s word, allowing its truths to inform the every-day activities of our life. I am pleased that many of our parishes offer Bible study opportunities. The Leaven recently published an article noting the excellent participation in the Catholic Scripture Study now being offered at Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Wea.
The School of Faith curriculum, developed at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center and now being offered at several of our parishes, is an excellent presentation of our Catholic faith. The School of Faith participants review the biblical foundations of our Catholic faith as they walk through the Old and New Testament.
Several of our parishes are now offering Christ Renews His Parish weekends which have proven to be powerful experiences awakening and deepening the faith in the hearts of many participants.
In our culture today, we are frequently being presented with challenges to our Catholic faith. If we are not well-formed and well-educated in our faith, we can easily become confused.
With our three-year cycle of biblical readings for Sunday Mass, we are given the opportunity to reflect upon most of the New Testament and a significant portion of the Old Testament. I encourage every family to have its own Bible study by reading and praying over the Scripture texts before coming to Sunday Mass. This practice will not only better prepare you for the celebration of Sunday Mass, but it will provide you with an opportunity to strengthen the bonds that bind you as a family, reflecting together upon the meaning of the word of God.
In the Mass at Dawn on Christmas Day, as well as the Mass for the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God (Jan. 1), we were presented with St. Luke’s description of the Blessed Mother after the birth of Jesus and the visit of the shepherds: “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
We need to be like Mary, prayerfully pondering the remarkable way in which God is acting in our lives.