Oct. 12, 2016
By Colleen Miner
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has chosen the theme “Moved by Mercy” for this year’s Respect Life month. The poster includes a quote from Pope Francis: “We are called to show mercy because mercy was first shown to us.” The “Year of Mercy” will conclude in November and now we are encouraged to put mercy into action. In our diocese, there are many pro-life activities in which to participate.
• The Fall 40 DAYS FOR LIFE campaign kicked off Sept. 28 with Father Mickey Demo leading a prayer service outside of the Plattsburgh Planned Parenthood. This worldwide movement has three components: prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil and community outreach. The local 40 Days for Life presence at 66 Brinkerhoff Street in Plattsburgh will continue through Nov. 6. To sign up for an hour of witness, please register at: www.40daysforlife.com/plattsburgh. Also, a group in Watertown is standing outside the Stone Street Planned Parenthood from noon to 1 p.m. every day in October, including weekends, praying for a greater respect for human life.
• Sign-ups began for the 2017 Youth Buses for Life pilgrimage to the Washington DC March for Life opened Oct. 1. Three buses of high school students and Virtus: Protecting God’s Children-trained chaperones will depart from Watertown, Schroon Lake, and Massena (with stops in Canton and Gouverneur) Jan. 26 and return Jan. 28. (The March for Life is later this year due to the presidential inauguration.) Online registration is at www.rcdony.org/prolife For more information, like “2017 Youth Buses for Life” on Facebook or contact the Respect Life Office. There will also be two family buses departing from Plattsburgh and Lewis County. The Lake Champlain Bus for Life is coordinated by Karen Smith 518-566-6229. The Lewis County Bus for Life is coordinated by Paul Campeau 315-376-3569.
• Respect Life Sunday Oct. 2 marked the 29th year of the annual LIFECHAIN, a peaceful, prayerful, public, pro-life presence. Five Lifechains were held in our diocese: Massena, Plattsburgh, Potsdam, Saranac Lake, and Schroon Lake. Bishop LaValley joined the Saranac Lake Lifechain this year. Willsboro will hold their Lifechain Oct. 23.
• Two Rachel’s Vineyard after-abortion healing retreats are offered yearly - Spring and Fall. There are opportunities to serve as a prayer partner for a retreatant or donate baked goods for the retreats. Since 43% of women will have had an abortion by the age of 45 (Alan Guttmacher Institute), sharing information about this opportunity to experience God’s mercy, may benefit someone you know. Visit the diocesan website or www.rachelsvineyard.org for more information.
• You may be “Moved by Mercy” to volunteer at one of the ten Gabriel Project, parish-based crisis-pregnancy apostolates in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. There is a complete list of the Gabriel Project parishes on the Respect Life website.
• Opportunities to help build a culture of life that are not church-affiliated include volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center (www.plattsburghpregnancycenter.org) or
There are also three New York State Right to Life affiliates in our diocese who are always looking for new members: Lewis County Right to Life, Champlain Valley Right to Life www.champlainvalleyrighttolife.org or Liferight of Watertown www.liferight.org.
Thank you to all who are “Moved by Mercy” to support the efforts of the Respect Life Office through donations to the Bishop’s Fund Appeal. Please participate in pro-life efforts in your area and especially in this election year, please pray for liberty and justice for all - born and unborn.
Bishop Terry R. LaValley’s
The Apostles did the right thing this time. They had been traveling with Jesus for more than a year. They had been his disciples long enough to start realizing that they weren’t very good disciples at all. They still didn’t understand many things that Jesus said. They still couldn’t help people as much as Jesus did. It would have been tempting for them to get discouraged. But, instead, they go up to Jesus and they ask for His help. They ask Him to increase their faith.
You can almost see Jesus looking at them with a broad smile on his face. He must have been glad that they had asked for help instead of abandoning the mission. Then He tells them they don’t need more faith, they just need to use the faith they already have. He explains that a tiny bit of faith, the size of mustard seed, which isn’t very big, is enough to do marvelous things.
Like the Apostles, we know in our hearts that we are capable of doing much more, that we were made for greater things. But we don’t realize that God has already given us everything we need to achieve them. He has already planted in our souls the seed of faith, of divine life—He did so at baptism. Now, it’s up to us to exercise it. If we do, it will grow. And the more it grows, the more room God will have to do truly wonderful things in and through us. That’s how we respond to God’s call, how we live out our vocation in life.
Sometimes though, our faith never gets beyond the mustard-seed stage because we have the wrong idea of what it really is. Faith involves believing in Christ and His goodness. But it’s a kind of belief that also requires action.
Faith is the same word at the root of the Latin motto used by the U.S. Marines you sometimes see on car bumper stickers: “Semper Fidelis” - always faithful. Faith always implies being faithful - it implies a commitment to another person, a trusting commitment. And that means sticking by that person’s side. For us, that person is Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ means following Him.
Picture a man on a sinking ship. He may have faith in a life-preserver. He may remember cases of people being saved because they were wearing a life-preserver when their ship went down. He may be a physicist, and understand the laws of hydro-dynamics that make the life-preserver work. He may understand perfectly how the Velcro straps function and where to attach them. But if this man doesn’t actually put on the life-preserver—his faith is absolutely useless. He’s going to sink.
Today’s Responsorial Psalm gives us one surefire way to activate the power of faith. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.” If we believe in God’s wisdom, love, and power, we will obey Him. We will follow where He leads.
And He is always making His voice heard.
The most common way He does so is through our conscience. Our conscience is like an inner radio station that is always tuned to God’s voice. But it’s not the only station out there, and, unfortunately, it’s not always the loudest. Sometimes, we turn up the station of peer pressure really loud, or the station dedicated to making only me happy, never mind others, and other stations that broadcast soothing but death-dealing sounds.
That’s why the Psalmist tells us: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” We should decide ahead of time that whenever our conscience starts to ring, we will pay attention.
And we should decide ahead of time that if we aren’t sure what exactly our conscience is saying, but we know it’s saying something, we will get some good advice from someone who knows Christ and His teaching before we act.
That’s the only way God will be able to strengthen us to move mountains-the mountains of sin and sorrow that clutter the world and stifle our growth. That’s the only way God will be able to guide us, giving us the joy and inner peace we long for.
Two resolutions seem opportune in light of today’s readings: we need to redouble our efforts to have our young baptized, and then be determined to tend the seed of faith given at baptism, by forming a right conscience by learning more about our faith and in the process promoting a real culture of life.
The ballot box is a critical place where our faith must be expressed. For too long, for too many individuals, political party loyalty has deadened our sensitivity to crucial life issues.
We must walk the talk of our faith. It’s who we are. It’s what we must do. Anything else is a schizophrenic spirituality tuned in to a Godless station.