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Holiness means being loving, not boring, pope says

God calls all Christians to be saints — not plastic statues of saints, but real people who make time for prayer and who show loving care for others in the simplest gestures, Pope Francis said in his new document on holiness.

"Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality, or joy," the pope wrote in "Gaudete et Exsultate" ("Rejoice and Be Glad"), his apostolic exhortation on "the call to holiness in today's world."

ExhortationPope Francis signed the exhortation March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, and the Vatican released it April 9.

Much of the document was written in the second person, speaking directly to the individual reading it. "With this exhortation I would like to insist primarily on the call to holiness that the Lord addresses to each of us, the call that he also addresses, personally, to you," he wrote near the beginning.

Saying he was not writing a theological treatise on holiness, Pope Francis focused mainly on how the call to holiness is a personal call, something God asks of each Christian and which requires a personal response given one's state in life, talents and circumstances.

"We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer," he wrote. But "that is not the case."

"We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves," he said.

He wrote about "the saints next door" and said he likes "to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God's people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile."

Pope Francis also noted the challenges to holiness, writing at length and explicitly about the devil just two weeks after an uproar caused by an elderly Italian journalist who claimed the pope told him he did not believe in the existence of hell.

"We should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech, or an idea," the pope wrote in his exhortation. "This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless, and end up more vulnerable" to the devil's temptations.

"The devil does not need to possess us. He poisons us with the venom of hatred, desolation, envy, and vice," he wrote. "When we let down our guard, he takes advantage of it to destroy our lives, our families, and our communities."

The path to holiness, he wrote, is almost always gradual, made up of small steps in prayer, in sacrifice, and in service to others.

Being part of a parish community and receiving the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and reconciliation, are essential supports for living a holy life, the pope wrote. And so is finding time for silent prayer. "I do not believe in holiness without prayer," he said, "even though that prayer need not be lengthy or involve intense emotion."

"The holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures," he said, before citing the example of a woman who refuses to gossip with a neighbor, returns home and listens patiently to her child even though she is tired, prays the rosary, and later meets a poor person and offers him a kind word.

The title of the document was taken from Matthew 5:12 when Jesus says "rejoice and be glad" to those who are persecuted or humiliated for his sake.

The line concludes the Beatitudes, in which, Pope Francis said, "Jesus explained with great simplicity what it means to be holy": living simply, putting God first, trusting him and not earthly wealth or power, being humble, mourning with and consoling others, being merciful and forgiving, working for justice, and seeking peace with all.

The example of the saints officially recognized by the church can be helpful, he said, but no one else's path can be duplicated exactly.

Each person, he said, needs "to embrace that unique plan that God willed for each of us from eternity."

The exhortation ends with a section on "discernment," which is a gift to be requested of the Holy Spirit and developed through prayer, reflection, reading Scripture, and seeking counsel from a trusted spiritual guide.

"A sincere daily 'examination of conscience'" will help, he said, because holiness involves striving each day for "all that is great, better, and more beautiful, while at the same time being concerned for the little things, for each day's responsibilities and commitments."

Pope Francis also included a list of cautions. For example, he said holiness involves finding balance in prayer time, time spent enjoying others' company, and time dedicated to serving others in ways large or small. And, "needless to say, anything done out of anxiety, pride, or the need to impress others will not lead to holiness."

Being holy is not easy, he said, but if the attempt makes a person judgmental, always frustrated, and surly, something is not right.

"The saints are not odd and aloof, unbearable because of their vanity, negativity, and bitterness," he said. "The apostles of Christ were not like that."

In fact, the pope said, "Christian joy is usually accompanied by a sense of humor."

The exhortation included many of Pope Francis' familiar refrains about attitudes that destroy the Christian community, like gossip, or that proclaim themselves to be Christian, but are really forms of pride, like knowing all the rules and being quick to judge others for not following them.

Holiness "is not about swooning in mystic rapture," he wrote, but it is about recognizing and serving the Lord in the hungry, the stranger, the naked, the poor, and the sick.

Holiness is holistic, he said, and while each person has a special mission, no one should claim that their particular call or path is the only worthy one.

"Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm, and passionate for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred," the pope wrote. "Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned, and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia ...."

And, he said, one cannot claim that defending the life of a migrant is a "secondary issue" when compared to abortion or other bioethical questions.

"That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian," he said.

Pope Francis' exhortation also included warnings about a clear lack of holiness demonstrated by some Catholics on Twitter or other social media, especially when commenting anonymously.

"It is striking at times," he said, that "in claiming to uphold the other commandments, they completely ignore the eighth, which forbids bearing false witness or lying."

Saints, on the other hand, "do not waste energy complaining about the failings of others; they can hold their tongue before the faults of their brothers and sisters, and avoid the verbal violence that demeans and mistreats others."

— By Cindy Wooden / Catholic News Service

Divine Mercy Sunday

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2nd Sunday of Easter April 8, 2018

Divine Mercy celebrations in the diocese

The Feast of Divine Mercy is Sunday, April 8. The schedule for the Diocese of Duluth for 2018 is:

  • Aitken, St. James Church, 299 Red Oak Drive, (218) 927-6581: 1:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.; confession 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., holy hour 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Divine Mercy Chaplet; Mass 3:15 p.m.; spaghetti dinner after Mass.

  • Cloquet, Queen of Peace Church, 102 Fourth St., (218) 879- 6793: 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Divine Mercy Chaplet, prayers, no confessions.

  • Coleraine, Mary Immaculate Church, 10 Corey St., (218) 885-1126: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; adoration, rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, readings, homilies, confession, Benediction, reception in social hall.

  • Duluth, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, 2801 E. Fourth St., (218) 728-3646: 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.; 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. exposition, confession; 3 p.m. Divine Mercy Chaplet, Benediction.

  • Ely, St. Anthony Church, 231 E. Camp St., (218) 365-4017: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; adoration, confession, meditations of Divine Mercy, Stations of the Cross, veneration of St. Faustina relic, prayers, Divine Mercy Chaplet.

— The Northern Cross

An Easter message from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB

Bishop Paul Sirba: Let the Lord’s Resurrection fill our hearts with grace and mercy

No one can stop the Resurrection of Jesus. No one. The power and grace of the dying and rising of Jesus Christ is explosive!

Christians gather at the tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem every year to share the Easter greeting and the light of the new Easter fire. The holy frenzy that accompanies the announcement or Exultet is mirrored in the churches and cathedrals around the world. The holy shroud of Turin, the burial cloth of Jesus, was seared with a blast of energy that left an imprint which cannot be explained but reveals the unharnessed power of the risen Lord and His beautiful image.

Bishop Paul Sirba
Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has risen from the tomb! No one could or can stop Jesus’ victory over sin, suffering, and death. Alleluia! His love for us is eternal. In this month of April we begin the great 50 days of the Easter Season. The Lord’s Resurrection should fill our hearts and lives with His grace and mercy.

As our faith teaches, “We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day. Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity” (CCC 989).

Brothers and sisters, let us live in the light of the Resurrection of Jesus! Like the first disciples, who doubted the announcement of the Good News initially, we can get stuck in the doubt. We are tempted to believe the doubt. We are impatient that the Lord doesn’t answer our prayers or permits us to share in His creative suffering. There is pressure, subtle pride, which remains in us, that the Lord during this Easter Season wants to heal. Receive the healing power of the risen Lord.

In concert with Holy Mother Church, I encourage the reading of the Acts of the Apostles during the great 50 days. The second volume of St. Luke’s two-volume work describes how salvation history promised in the Old Testament is accomplished by Jesus in the New. St. Luke’s account of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the foundation of the Christian community and the commissioning of its first preachers is being lived anew in the Diocese of Duluth through you and me.

Our Easter joy should reflect the love of Jesus. It should teach us to receive the freedom of God’s merciful love for us personally. It should motivate us to be more merciful to others.

“Therefore, O Lord, we pray you that this candle, hallowed to the honor of your name, may preserve undimmed, to overcome the darkness of this night. Receive it as a pleasing fragrance, and let it mingle with the lights of heaven. May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star: the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son, who, coming back from death’s domain, has shed his peaceful light on humanity, and lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen” (Exultet).

Bishop Paul Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.

Easter Sunday

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April 1, 2018

Holy Thursday

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March 29, 2018

Diocese of Winona renamed with addition of Rochester co-cathedral

 

The Congregation for Bishops has decreed that the Diocese of Winona will now be called the Diocese of Winona-Rochester and that St. John the Evangelist Church of Rochester will be designated as a co-cathedral, according to a March 27 announcement from the newly renamed diocese.

“This is a significant moment in our diocese’s history,” said Bishop John M. Quinn of the Vatican’s announcement. “My heart is lifted by this news, as I know that the presence of a co-cathedral in Rochester will provide unique ways to share the Gospel in our diocese’s fastest growing city.”

The word “cathedral” is derived from the Latin word cathedra, meaning “chair.” The chair is an ancient symbol of apostolic authority. The cathedral is generally located in the major metropolis of a diocese. At the time the Diocese of Winona was established, Winona was a key location, by the railroad and along the Mississippi River. Now, 128 years later, populations have shifted. Rochester has become the third largest city in Minnesota, and three-quarters of the diocese’s population resides in the region between Rochester and Mankato.

In 2015, an initial inquiry was sent to the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops asking for the designation of a co-cathedral in Rochester. The Congregation for Bishops subsequently sent the diocese requirements for the process and directed the establishment of a diocesan planning committee.

This committee determined that St. John the Evangelist Church should be elevated to the status of a co-cathedral. The co-cathedral committee, and other groups involved, considered the size of the church building, location, architecture, and overall ability to function as a co-cathedral. Other factors included its proximity to the Mayo Clinic, the arts, culture, media, and industry, which provide an opportunity for further evangelization. St. John the Evangelist Church is also considered the “mother church” of Rochester, being the oldest parish in the city.

The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona will not change in status. It will continue to be the seat of the diocese and will host diocesan celebrations and Masses and ordinations.

A liturgical ceremony is scheduled for June 24, at which the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Pope Francis’ delegate to the United States, will formally designate St. John the Evangelist Church as the co-cathedral. During this ceremony, a new cathedra, or bishop’s chair, will be blessed, bearing witness to the apostolic ministry of sanctifying, teaching, and shepherding.

Adoption of the new title, “Diocese of Winona-Rochester,” throughout the parishes, schools, and diocesan institutions is expected to be completed by July 1.

— The Northern Cross

EF: Passion Sunday

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Extraordinary Form Mass - March 18, 2018

5th Sunday of Lent

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March 18, 2018 Deacon John Weiske