Already it is June, and summer upon us. Only our eighth graders are already “done,” though, and even for them that illusion will soon be shattered by the summer work that precedes the start of class for every high school student. I will not be the one to break that news to them, leaving that task to their parents, and instead content myself simply to congratulate them and share their joy.
Though school is indeed winding down and vacation season starting up, I am eager for you to be aware of important things this month that bring more work for us all, even as we dust our hands of our spring accomplishments.
First is the ongoing work of staying informed about the reality of what is occurring in our country that affects our lives as the Church. The HHS mandate confrontation has spread to a wide level of rhetorical assault on the life and work of the Church, and this hostility pervades the bulk of published information that is around us.
As I intimated at the end of my Masses last week, the Church in the United States has not been hijacked by a right-wing conspiracy, and Catholic bishops are not trying to force anything on anyone. But to know this, one must turn away from the newspaper, television, and many other common sources of information, and turn toward our own fathers, the bishops themselves.
Cardinal Wuerl has established a website for you to learn what the Church says about what the Church is doing, www.preservereligiousfreedom.org. His emails, along with editorials published by the Catholic Standard illuminate and reveal realities that would otherwise be withheld from you.
I would never suggest that you listen only to the Church’s leaders and spokesmen about this. I would insist, however, that you give them also the opportunity to speak, teach, and explain. Then, use the intellect God gave you when He made us in His own image to evaluate the truth of what our Bishops say, the love that motivates them, and the humility of their assertions. Compare that, then, to the tone, tactics, and goals of all who accuse the Church, make your own decision, and act upon it.
Second and more local, but not less important, is the work of rejoicing in the Priestly ordination of Patrick Lewis, a son of Saint Bernadette. He will be ordained Priest for the Archdiocese of Washington along with four others at the Basilica on Saturday, June 16, at ten o’clock. Then Father Lewis will offer his first Mass of Thanksgiving here on Sunday June 17 at eleven o’clock.
I invite and exhort all of you to turn out for both events, reflecting our pride and pleasure in the great work God has wrought in one of our own. A priestly ordination is an exhilarating event, and to have a connection with one of the men ordained enhances that experience. A first Mass is a poignant and beautiful thing, too, and bears with it graces and joys that go far beyond the Plenary Indulgence that is available to all who fully and faithfully participate. Come, show your joy.
Father Lewis will doubtless feel that he, too, is “done”, like our eighth graders – done with his formation and preparation. But he knows that even now he has one more year of graduate study in Rome to finish his degree, and that the life and work to which Christ has called him is only just beginning. He will not shirk that work.
So should we all remind ourselves that our work is a call and a gift from God. It is our work to be faithful to Christ and embody Him in the Church in our own nation, not avoiding adversity, but resisting it. The quiet, but not solitary, work of informing our consciences is every Catholic’s summer reading assignment. It is our work, too, to raise up faithful sons to be holy Priests, and sons and daughters to be vowed religious. Even as we rejoice in the summer’s gifts, let us be about our work.