April 1, 2015
Bishop Terry R. LaValley’s homily for the 2015 diocesan Chrism Mass held March 26 at St. Mary’s Cathedral
The mission of the Church is the same for every generation, but her pastoral priorities have to be continually rethought in relation to the actual condition of the world in which we live. Such a reflecting process has been taking place here in the Diocese of Ogdensburg, in a very focused manner, over the past couple of years through our Envisioning Process. As you know, I proclaimed our Diocesan Priorities and Goals to a packed Cathedral at last year’s Chrism Mass. Since that time, so many of the faithful from across our diocese have stepped forward and are working diligently to facilitate the accomplishment of the goals that have been set for all of our parishes, in light of our local Church’s priorities for the next five years. I am most grateful.
I believe that we have introduced a new corporate consciousness for the Church of the North Country that will fire up and unite even more closely our laity, our consecrated religious, and our clergy. St. Timothy urged his readers to “fan into flame the gift God has given us.” This has meant that we are being called to re-form ourselves by incorporating the realities that are staring us in the face here in our Diocese. We will not grow by leaving things alone. So, we won’t! We’re fanning the flame! I think that St. Timothy would be proud of our mission focus!
We all have our part to play as members of the one family of faith. As I mentioned, many have already been asked to participate in our envisioning process as members of the several committees that have been working diligently so as to provide our parishes with all the background, resources, and assistance they will need to address our goals in our local communities. How can every person be a part of the Envisioning Process? I encourage you to consider some of these actions:
• Re-read my Pastoral Letter “Find Your Home in Christ.”
Jesus Christ and to share the joy of our faith with our sisters and brothers.
We are indeed, hope-filled. No one should be denied hope: young people need hope; the elderly need hope; the hurting, the vulnerable and marginalized need hope; moms and dads, sisters and brothers, we all need reason to hope.
And, you know, it’s no coincidence that our Scripture readings for this Chrism Mass are blatantly hope-filled. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus reads, during synagogue worship, that prophetic text from Isaiah, asserting that the hoped-for Messiah had been realized in Him.
Isaiah’s vision was fulfilled in a way that far exceeded the prophet’s profoundest hopes and wildest expectations. God’s Spirit has been poured out upon Jesus in a unique way to accomplish the divine plan that will affect the salvation of Israel and, indeed, all the nations. Talk about a reason for hope!
Hear again, from our first reading, how Isaiah spoke of this Messiah who would bring glad tidings to the lowly, heal the broken hearted, bring liberty to captives and release to prisoners.
He would announce a year of favor, a day of vindication. He would offer comfort to those who mourn, a diadem instead of ashes, anoint with the Oil of Gladness, offer a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit, bringing a lasting covenant.
And then the psalmist chants of forever singing the goodness of the Lord while the author of the Book of Revelation offers a hymn of praise to the One who has freed us from our sins by His Blood.
Then, again in our Gospel, Luke tells us that Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and, through the power of the Spirit, read of how the Anointed One was sent to bring: glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom for the oppressed, proclaiming a year acceptable to the Lord. Have more hope-filled words ever been voiced?
You see, where hope is absent, faith is suspect. Our hope is based on the Proclamation of this Good
We will not be intimidated or discouraged by those who abstain from God and who are indifferent to or even ridicule His Mystical Body. We will not be disheartened by those who are content with leaving things the way they have always been.
No, as Jesus rolled up the scroll, you and I roll up our sleeves, extending our hands and hearts as we make our diocesan vision a reality for all to experience.
In the renewal of their priestly promises, my brother priests, who are sharers in Christ’s own consecration, will renew their promise to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God, moved only by zeal for souls.
My brothers, that pastoral zeal rests upon the hope you harbor deep within your own heart. I pray that you find renewed vigor to engage and accompany your parishioners in our local Church’s efforts to Renew Faith, Nurture Hope, and Discover Love by Finding our Home in Christ.
Our Church is so blessed, so indebted, so dependent on your deep faith and generous pastoral leadership.
As the folks in Philadelphia make ready for the World Meeting of Families this fall, we echo their theme: Love Is Our Mission: This Diocese of Ogdensburg is a Faith Family Fully Alive--Yes-sir-ee!