Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
On the night of October 11, more than 750 bishops, priests, deacons, religious and faithful filled the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Milwaukee, joining in solidarity with Pope Benedict XVI to launch the Year of Faith. When the Archdiocese of Milwaukee first planned this evening, we thought that a congregation of 400 to 500 would be very impressive, given that it was a weekday evening.
The ceremony started in darkness and a lone voice proclaimed the passage of time and the events leading up to this significant moment. The proclamation was written by Bishop Emeritus Richard J. Sklba and at the end it stated our commitment to the teachings of the Church and our desire to live the Gospel. The homily was given from the cathedra, the “chair.” This was done deliberately to emphasize the importance of the moment and the relationship with the Shepherd of Rome.
Preaching from the chair stresses the teaching office of the bishop. Pope Benedict recalls the moment of his first homily as Bishop of Rome: “The Church as a whole and all her pastors like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.”
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. The documents of the Council fashioned the Church as we know it today. The liturgy is a prime example. Even more so, the whole spirit of the Church in the modern world. Yet, the documents need to be revisited and read in light of the tradition of the Church. Pope John Paul II, a Father of the Council, challenged us to read the documents through the lens of authentic teachings: “They need to be read correctly to be widely known and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium within the Church’s tradition.” In order to accomplish this we need dedicated and trained Catholic school teachers and catechists. One of the great gifts to the Church was the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Last Thursday, we also celebrated the 20th anniversary of that publication.
At the end of Mass, Bishop Donald J. Hying blessed copies of the Catechism that would be distributed to all of the Catholic teachers and catechists who were present at the Mass. Bishop Hying asked the teachers to stand, and the congregation gave a heartfelt round of applause. Their applause demonstrated their appreciation for those who sacrifice their time and donate their efforts to share the faith with the young and those in RCIA programs. Bishop Hying asked them to remember this moment when times become difficult or they experience challenges in their ministry.
Pope Benedict has given us the opportunity to concentrate on our faith and share that faith with others this year. Our faith moves us to extend our love to others in works of charity, as Pope Benedict states: “Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt…Through faith we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love.” We are called to understand why we do what we do and for whom we do it. The Year of Faith is helping us to respond to the Lord’s command to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the October 16, 2012 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.