Bishop Blair: "Listening to Our Mother"
Today is obviously Catholic Chronicle day here at Pro Ecclesia.
Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair writes in the November issue of the Chronicle:
Listening to our mother(emphasis added)
by Bishop Leonard P. Blair
Just a few weeks ago, on Oct. 13, the church recalled the 90th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady at Fatima in Portugal.
The message of Our Lady in 1917 came amid the horrors of world war and revolution that were only the beginning of a century scarred by tremendous evils and crimes against God and humanity. Her message, however, is timeless precisely because it is the Gospel message of conversion, of prayer, penance and sacrifice.
As a bishop responsible for a large flock, like you, I pray for many things. I have a whole list of intentions for the Diocese of Toledo that is part of my prayers to God, to Our Lady and to the saints and angels. “Pray without ceasing,” St. Paul writes, and in the literal translation of Luke 11: 9, Jesus says, “Keep on asking … keep on seeking … keep on knocking …” and you will receive.
If we look more deeply at the Scriptures, however, we will find an extremely important secret about prayer. Those whose prayers are heard are those who accompany their prayers with acts of penance and sacrifice.
The great prayers of the Bible are offered to God amid the rigors of the desert, the stripping away of earthly signs of pride, and especially by mortification and fasting. Sinless though He was, Jesus Himself fasted when He prayed, as an example to us that the human soul and body, mind and heart, must be freed and purified in order to ascend in adoration to the all-holy God, in order to be pleasing to Him.
Scripture teaches us that our Christian life and our prayers are at the service of a plan much greater than ourselves. When we connect the dots between prayer, penance and sacrifice, we understand we are united to Christ in His fasting and prayer, and in His self-emptying sacrifice of expiation for the redemption of the world. All of our needs and desires are subject to the will of God for our salvation and the salvation of the world.
These scriptural truths have been lived by the saints throughout history. The words and works of the saints constitute the great spiritual treasury of our Catholic faith. Yet is it not true that the gospel call to conversion, prayer, penance and sacrifice is often muted, sometimes to the point of near silence, in much of our preaching and teaching today?
A life of conversion, of prayer, penance and sacrifice, is not a welcome message to the ears of a sinful world or our sinful selves, even when the message comes from our Mother in heaven. Yet if Mary’s message was urgent in 1917, imagine how much more urgent it is today! ...
[Read the whole thing]
Last month, in the middle of my bragging on the bishop we are blessed with here in the Toledo Diocese, my buddy Zach wrote in to comment that he and his family were moving to the Diocese of Kansas City, which has the outstanding Bishop Finn at the helm. Zach joked that his days of envy over my living in Bishop Blair's diocese were now over, and that he bet his bishop could beat up my bishop.
Maybe so, Zach, but I bet my bishop can out-pray yours.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
"How a Shepherd Speaks"
Bishop Blair: "A Dialogue of Truth and Love"
Bishop Blair: "Upholding the Bond of Love" (Part 3)
Bishop Blair: "Upholding the Bond of Love" (Part 2)
Bishop Blair: "Upholding the Bond of Love"
Bishop Blair: "The Gospel of Life Revisited"
Bishop Blair: "Building Your House on a Rock"
Meeting the Bishop - After Action Report
Bishop Blair Teaches: "And With Your Spirit"
Bishop Blair: "What God Joins Together"