2010 Archive

  1. December 19

    In time for eternity

    Christmas: The mystery of God’s only begotten Son taking on human nature over 2,000 years ago places this temporal world in an eternal frame. Belief in an afterlife that lasts forever is, at best, a guess unless we have contact with a God whose existence is without beginning and without end. Life with such a God is eternal, even when he enters time. Contact with Jesus, through the grace that makes us participants in his life, is a pledge of our own eternal life.

  2. December 5

    The kingdom of God and religious liberty

    The season of Advent helps us prepare to celebrate the birth of Our Lord by focusing our reflections on the kingdom of God, a world where everything and everyone is ordered in accordance with God’s will for his people’s happiness. This is the kingdom described by the great prophets, the kingdom that God promised to establish by sending the world a Messiah, a savior. When the promised savior grew up, he confounded many of his contemporaries by identifying God’s kingdom not with a place but with a person, himself: Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David. Where Jesus is, there is God and God’s kingdom.

  3. November 21

    USCCB presidential address, 2010

    Dear Brother Bishops: Three years ago, we were preparing to receive the visit of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to this country and to the United Nations. Well prepared by both church and civil authorities, his visit introduced the people of our country to a quiet and loving man, persuasive in his gentle presence and strong in his words, which echo those of Christ. The pope’s visit to our country presaged similarly powerful visits to Australia and, this year, to the United Kingdom. While the preliminary stories are always of scandal and dissent and protest, the stories during and after such visits finally yield to the sentiments of the hundreds of thousands of believers who gather around him as successor of Peter and visible head of Christ’s church on earth. He confirmed us in our faith and in our vocation as bishops of the Catholic Church.

  4. November 7

    What’s so new about evangelization?

    What’s so new about evangelization? When I came back to Chicago as archbishop in the spring of 1997, the archdiocese had a pastoral plan that placed evangelization as the first priority or goal of this local church. This stated goal for Chicago echoed what the Second Vatican Council had said for the universal church and restated, in a contemporary way, what the Gospel itself proclaims: The mission of the church everywhere and in every place is to introduce the world to its savior, until Christ returns in glory. Evangelization is the basic purpose of all the ministries, all the organizations, all the institutions that call themselves Catholic. It is what motivates every aspect of the church’s life and is the criterion by which all is evaluated: Do people know and love Jesus Christ because of what we are doing?

  5. October 24

    Sharing the lot of our friends

    A week ago, over 200 young Catholics gathered at St. Ferdinand Parish on Chicago’s northwest side for a day of prayer and reflection on their role as peacemakers. They were from families of Polish origin and many of them regularly attend the Saturday schools where they learn both the Polish language and culture along with receiving catechesis on the Catholic faith.

  6. October 10

    Gifts and rights: the nature of the sacrament of holy orders

    A gift is not a gift if the recipient has a right to it. A refund on your taxes is not a gift from the IRS. Our civic order is arranged to help individuals receive their rights; this is the goal of legal justice. A gift, however, is not due in justice; it comes from love, is freely offered and can’t be manipulated by the recipient. In the order of grace, no one has rights and everything is gift from a God who loves us. Sanctifying grace, God’s life in us, is pure gift; we can’t demand it from God; nor can we tell God to change it to suit us. All that Christ has given us through the church — the Gospel, the sacraments, the church herself — comes to us from his love. It’s all gift, and it is either received as such or lost.

  7. September 26

    Two in One Flesh: Marriage in nature, in the church and in civil society

    In the Archdiocese of Chicago, on Sept. 19, about 350 couples renewed their marriage vows during the annual Mass to celebrate the anniversary of those married 50 years (see Page 10). In reflecting on their 50 years together, some couples wrote that the best part of being married was the companionship of a husband or wife who could always be counted on, in good times and in bad, along with the blessing of children and grandchildren. Others said that the Catholic faith had strengthened their marriage because it gave them a common vision that helped them see themselves and their union in the light of what God called them to be.

  8. September 12

    Catholic schools are schools for life

    Catholic schools are schools for life “Those who instruct many in the ways of justice will sparkle as stars for all eternity.” (Dn 12:3)

    Recently, many thousands of students returned to our parochial schools, to Catholic high schools administered by the archdiocese and by religious orders, to our seminaries and to other institutions of learning shaped by the Catholic faith. A new school year is a new moment not only for the students but also for their families, as well as for those responsible for the schools.

  9. August 29

    Liturgy: translation and much more

    On July 24, 2010, the Apostolic See of Rome confirmed the proper calendar, texts and adaptations for the dioceses of the United States of the third edition of the Roman Missal in the English language. The parishes of this and other dioceses in our country will begin using this missal on Nov. 27, 2011, the first Sunday of the liturgical season of Advent (see story on Page 6).

  10. August 15

    Aug. 15: What is heaven like?

    Cartoons about life in heaven often show human beings on clouds with wings coming out of their shoulders, as if they had turned into angels. But human persons remain human persons after death and in eternal life. In other words, heaven is a place for bodies as well as souls.

  11. August 1

    Celebrating and Honoring Priesthood

    The Year for Priests ended in the universal church last June, on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Christ’s love for his people is the origin of the ordained priesthood in the church. In our archdiocese, however, the priests themselves will end our participation in this year on Aug. 4, the feast of St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests.

  12. July 18

    Immigration and the law

    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: Last week I traveled with Bishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller and two priests of the archdiocese to the State of Michoacan in Mexico in order to learn about the place where many Catholics of Mexican origin in the Archdiocese of Chicago were born. The visit was first of all pastoral. Archbishop Alberto Suarez of Morelia, Michoacan, had come to visit us in Chicago and invited me to return the visit. The visit was also informational. I spoke with many bishops and other pastoral leaders and many civic officials to help me understand the situation of the people in Michoacan and help them understand the lives of their friends and families who have come here. Finally, the visit was religious, a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Morelia and then to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

  13. July 4

    Is the end near?

    People used to speak about “going to the movies.” Perhaps that phrase went out of currency when television brought the movies to us. For years now, I have neither gone to the movies nor spent much time watching television; but the movies come to me these days on airplanes. Looking at the list of movies shown on some of the flights I’ve been on in recent months, it seems to me there is great interest in apocalyptic events. Movies like “The Book of Eli” and “The Road” portray a world turned upside down by global disaster. Fascination with the Mayan calendar’s running out in 2012 rivals some of the popular musings about the end of the millennium 10 years ago. Tales of vampires and werewolves are testimony to bizarre imaginings of worlds far removed from normal events or history and far removed, as well, from any sense of God’s providence.

  14. June 20

    Growing Old: looking back and looking forward

    People live longer these days; many people in this country have about 10 more years of life than would have been the case years ago. The death of a child is always a tragedy, although many died in childhood a century ago. Adolescence is prolonged and decisions that define a life, like marriage, are often put off into the late 20s or the 30s. The 40th birthday no longer marks a person as clearly set in middle age. Old age begins, perhaps, in the 70s, certainly not at 60; and octogenarians are not looked upon as exceptional.

  15. June 6

    The month of the Sacred Heart and the Year for Priests

    St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, said often that the meaning of the priesthood is the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

  16. May 23

    Sacramental objectivity in a world of religious subjectivism

    When Jesus ascended into heaven and disappeared from the sight of his apostles, he didn’t abandon them or us. His leaving made room for the Spirit he promised to send, a Spirit who would work quietly from within to preserve the unity of the church with her Lord. Jesus’ leaving was tempered, as well, because his actions remain visible in the sacraments of the church.

  17. May 9

    Pope Benedict XVI’s fifth anniversary: Love is the Lodestone

    “If we look at Christ, he is all sympathy, and that makes him precious to us. Being sympathetic, being vulnerable, is part of being a Christian. One must learn to accept injuries, to live with wounds, and in the end to find therein a deeper healing.” These are words of Pope Benedict to an interviewer some time back, but they can be used to give us a key to what he has done as pope in the past five years.

  18. April 25

    “What we have seen ...”

    During this Easter season, the church presents, in the liturgy of the Mass, the various apparitions of the risen Christ. We hear how even those who knew him best often failed to recognize Jesus when he appeared after his rising from the dead. Jesus’ body was changed. He had conquered death. His mortal body had become immortal because it was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

  19. April 11

    Easter 2010: Thinking and living outside the box

    Most people, myself included, live and think and love in frameworks that help us keep our lives together, boxes we can take for granted and that direct or orient us without our thinking much about it. I would have a hard time, for example, shopping or working in China; I couldn’t read the signs. It’s a different box, a foreign country. We all have skills and a job or position — or at least know what we can do for a living, even in a time of high unemployment. We have our families and our parishes and our towns and neighborhoods. We fit who we are and what we do into these boxes and categories. Life in them can sometimes become a deadening routine but, at their best, they help us develop habits that make a full and rich life possible. They protect our relationships and help us to live and love in conformity with our convictions.

  20. March 28

    Betrayal

    “On the night he was betrayed,” we pray in the Eucharistic Prayer, just before the priest consecrates the bread and wine. The Scriptures and the ceremonies of Holy Week bring us into the mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection; but the stage for the Paschal Mystery is set by Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Other betrayals also mark the Lord’s life and death, betrayals that continue when the life of the church is wounded by sin and evil.

  21. March 14

    The Apostolic Visitation of Women Religious

    Lent is a season for taking stock, for examining one’s conscience personally and for looking at ourselves collectively to bring our life and actions into line with the Gospel. The visitation of religious communities of women, which begins this coming month after a long period of gathering information, has caused much dismay. Publicly taking stock of the situation of communities of consecrated life might be a wellintentioned initiative, but many see it as invasive and demeaning.

  22. February 28

    Jesus in public life

    The Lenten season begins with the story of Jesus being tempted as he moves from living quietly in his home in Nazareth to living a public life in Galilee and then in Judea and Jerusalem itself (Lk 4:1-13). In temptation, one’s life is on the line: the choice is between doing good or doing evil, serving God or the devil. The right choice leads to life; the wrong choice leads to death. In temptation, one’s complete dependence on God becomes clear, because we cannot fight the devil alone. Alone, we’ll lose. Only by calling on the Lord when tempted can we come out of temptation united with him.

  23. February 14

    Conversion: from peace lovers to peace makers

    Stories of violence in warfare in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan continue to impact political life but, listening to our neighbors and many parishioners, stories of violence closer to home are also heard. In choosing themes for discussion this year, the members of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council several months ago honed in on violence in our homes, on our streets and in our public conversation.

  24. January 31

    Earthquakes

    The earthquake that destroyed Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, has brought forth an outpouring of concern and generosity. The numbers of those who were killed remain uncertain; the physical devastation of the city is clear in the many pictures transmitted by television. It looks like the cities of Europe that were destroyed by incessant bombing during the Second World War.

  25. January 17

    Politics of health care ‘reform’ can make you sick

    Editor’s note: Cardinal George was on vacation at press time and requested that this column run in place of his own.

    Catholic bishops have urged the government to reform our ailing health care system for decades. To do this, the House and Senate have now passed bills with this aim, bills that must be reconciled into one final bill. But the present state of affairs is enough to make you sick. The gamesmanship in Congress relates more to politics than health and has created serious problems. Despite the bishops’ desire for health care reform, the proposed bills could turn the bishops from allies into opponents. So far, health care reform it is not.

  26. January 3

    Whatever happened to Herod?

    One of the characters in the Christmas story who doesn’t appear around Jesus’ crib is King Herod. Herod was a powerful and able ruler who had rebuilt the great temple in Jerusalem. Instead of being grateful, many of his subjects hated him because they lived constantly in fear of his displeasure, and no one likes to live in constant fear. Herod’s central goal in life was to remain in power. Incidentally, he did some good things and he did some bad things. In fact, he did whatever was necessary to remain in power, even killing those members of his own family who seemed to threaten his hold on power.