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From the Pastor 05/13/18

A very Blessed Ascension of the Lord to you all. I will be in Maine until Thursday. Looking forward to seeing you all when I return. This Sunday’s first lesson from the Acts of the Apostles and St. Mark’s Gospel tell us that forty days after his resurrection Jesus ascended to heaven, but that before he did so, he said to the apostles, Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. Jesus also promised them that they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit in order that they might carry out this command.

The Good News, of course, was all the things that Jesus had taught the apostles during the three years he spent with them. He had passed on to them many religious truths, which would be summed up in the Apostles Creed. He instituted the seven Sacraments. He had ordained the Apostles and commissioned them to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. He had not only given them moral truths to follow but had exemplified them in his own life. Not only were the apostles well equipped to preach the Christian faith by what Jesus had taught them; now they would receive the awesome power of the Holy Spirit as well in their ministry.

Jesus entrusted to the apostles this Good News of how human beings can live so as to attain everlasting life. This Good News is the greatest treasure of the human race. It freed the human race from the darkness of error of the pagans and from the incompleteness of the truth that the Old Testament contained. Now the Holy Spirit would be given to them not only to live it in their own lives but also to go out and boldly proclaim this message to everyone that they would meet.

The Church has always understood that what Jesus commanded the Apostles to do he has also commanded us to do; each of us according to our state in life. The first thing required of the Apostles and of us is to appreciate the Good News personally. This means believing what Jesus has revealed and also living out the consequence of this belief.

There are too many Catholics today who do not accept all the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church, the Magisterium that speaks with the authority of Christ. They have not really accepted the fullness of the Good News. There are also people who know the Church’s teaching but who do not think it important enough to base their lives on it. Perhaps they don’t pray, don’t regularly attend Mass, don’t keep all the Commandments, don’t live in such a way as to be able to receive the Sacraments regularly. What a sad state not to know, love, and practice the truth of the Church.

Jesus expects all of us to appreciate the Good News, to accept all of it, and to live in accord with it. But he expects us also, as he did the Apostles, to pass it on to others. Perhaps this is the best test of whether we appreciate the Gospel sufficiently.

In this Sunday’s first reading and again in the Gospel, Jesus says that we are to preach the Good News to the whole world. Certainly the Apostles and their successors were given the primary responsibility for doing this, but all of us can assist them in this task. Jesus could have stayed on earth forever to preach the Good News, but his will was that we would continue his ministry of salvation through working in us. We are truly the instruments of God’s good work.

There are many ways in which we can help spread the Gospel. Parents can teach their children in their early years and guide them in their later ones, by explaining to their children that faith in God is primarily about love. Only in love can we ever truly obey. They can make sure that their children’s continuing education is truly Catholic. And we all have neighbors, colleagues, and friends whom we can influence in religious matters, prudently and always with charity. Many Catholics are in positions of great influence, as teachers, writers, artists, politicians, doctors, nurses, social workers, and so on. People such as these can do a lot to spread the Good News.

We know however that we often fail to do what we can. Some Catholics are even counter-signs of true Catholicism. Some of our “Catholic” politicians vote in favor of abortion and support other laws that directly oppose the Church. And to add insult to injury many Catholics vote for these politicians! Some Catholics in the field of media directly and purposely oppose the Church’s teachings. Some parents don’t raise their children to know Jesus Christ. On Judgment Day we will have to say whether we have hidden our light (our faith) under a bushel basket or even directly snuffed out the light altogether; or whether we have witnessed to our faith even when its teachings are not politically correct. The joy of being politically incorrect is absolutely wonderful!

What has happened in the Western World is that, though once evangelized, it now needs to be re-evangelized. In the United States, whereas 74% of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1965, only 30% go today.

According to one poll, more than half of the Catholics in the United States say that you can be a good Catholic without obeying Church teachings on abortion, or without attending Sunday Mass; or while using contraception, or divorcing and remarrying, or marrying outside the Church. More than a third of them say that you can be a good Catholic while not believing that Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. What has happened to our beautiful Church, brothers and sisters? It is truly a disgrace to the Holy Name of Jesus Christ and his Most Blessed Mother.

Catholics who really value their faith are dismayed at such statistics, and want to do what they can to evangelize or re-evangelize the world. They will look after their children first of all, but also pray and work for the conversion of fallenaway Catholics and new converts, of the work of missionaries in foreign lands, and of the adherence of all Catholics to the teaching of the Magisterium.

St. Mark’s Gospel today tells us that we have a mission. We are to go and make disciples. Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit to help us in this awesome responsibility. The Apostles responded to Jesus’ call of evangelization even to the point of dying for the faith. May we be as bold in proclaiming the Gospel in our world today.

A blessed Seventh Week of Easter to all,

Rev. André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., Pastor