August 14, 2017
Seeing the violence in Charlottesville was saddening and disheartening. The more we read about the demonstration of racism, bigotry and self-proclaimed superiority made it seem as though we were living in a different time. So much progress has been made since the Civil Rights Movement. And yet, there are some who cling to misguided and evil beliefs about what makes America unique and remarkable.
Any discussion of this sensitive topic must begin by condemning all forms of bigotry and hatred. For Christians, any form of hatred, no matter who it is against, is an offense—a sin—against the Body of Christ. Each person is created by God and bestowed with His unyielding love. Anyone who treats one of those creations with disrespect, disdain or violence, has offended not just that person, but also the creator of that individual. When we witness destructive behavior, such as racism or hatred, we might naturally respond with righteous anger, but we must not respond with our own form of hatred. Hating those who hate us offers no possibility of authentic conversion or growth as sons and daughters of God.
We should be grateful to live in a country where freedom of speech and assembly is cherished and protected in a constitution. This right protects religious expression, for example. At the same time, these rights also open the opportunity for those with evil intent and backward thinking to demonstrate and share what they believe as well. The question we must ask, especially after seeing our rights misused to the point that violence erupts leaving many injured and a young woman dead, is: what do we do now?
We must find unity as a country. Unity does not mean we all believe the same things. Likewise, the freedom to express differing views or opinions does not mean we reject our unity as God’s family. The Catholic Church is rooted in fundamental principles that make us authentically Catholic—but apart from them, there are issues that allow for debate and discussion, which is normal within any family. Our country is the same in many ways. We must be united by a shared interest in freedom, liberty, and love for our neighbor. Beyond those unifying principles, there will be disagreements and differing beliefs. But our unity is in our shared values and, perhaps more importantly, the respect we show to one another. Without respect for each other, even when we adamantly disagree, we will see more violence and discord in this great nation.
At this time, I call upon all Catholics in the Diocese or Arlington to turn to the patroness of our nation, Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception, and St. Michael the Archangel, and pray for unity, respect, and peace in our communities.
The Pastor’s Corner
Dear Sacred Heart Family,
The Lord is always at work renewing us and strengthening our foundation for the future. Each day, each Sunday, every liturgical season, and every calendar year, the Lord says, come let us begin again. And once again, we are back to school at Sacred Heart Academy!
As the school year began, Bishop Burbidge gathered with educators, administrators, priests and other faithful of our Diocese for a special Catholic Schools Mass, this past Tuesday, the Queenship of Mary. Soon as well, the Bishop will celebrate his first Mass and Reception for Homeschool Families on Friday, November 3rd, at 10:00 am at Holy Trinity Parish in Gainesville. As well, he will continue his beloved tradition of visiting various schools throughout the Diocese. The Bishop loves education, Catholic Schools, homeschooling, campus ministry, and all ministry to youth and young people. His visible passion and commitment to handing on the Faith is an inspiration and invitation to all of us.
The beginning of the school year is launching across our community: at Sacred Heart Academy, within Homeschooling families, at Chelsea Academy, with our families enrolled in public schools here in Winchester, and our students in private and independent schools. All our ministries to youth and young people provide a chance to renew our hope. The task of sharing the Faith and forming the future reminds us that we have been given a treasure and commissioned by Christ to share that treasure with the world.
This week at the Catholic Schools Mass, Bishop Burbidge called upon us all to look up to the Lord. He reflected on the Solar Eclipse and how everyone paused midday to look up at the Sun. The Bishop’s reflection was clear and encouraging for us as we face the challenges and difficulties in our society and nation today.
When we consider the events of Charlottesville, the divisions in our society, the problems we have in relationships and our fears for the future, as believers, Jesus is the only answer. Our Savior entered our pain and darkness in order to enlighten our minds and form us to be believers with hope. St. Paul reminds us that where sin abounds, grace abounds the more. Where do we find hope and grace as we find problems in our state, country and society? Our hope comes from the foundation which God laid for us. This Sunday, in the Gospel at Mass, Jesus says “Upon this rock, I will build my church.” Christ established the Church to continue His presence in time and history. In the Church we don’t just build community based on good will, volunteering, helping and being kind—though all of these are wonderful. Christian hope comes the light of the Good News of the Gospel. When we encounter false division, hatred, unjust conflict, and the condition of broken people in a broken world, only Christ can heal us.
As a priest and a pastor I cannot propose political solutions. But as the Church, as the People of God we can rejoice in the marvelous ways that God shows us His desire to heal and renew us. Even the eclipse is a providential reminder. God has ordered the universe so that we can follow the patterns in nature. And in watching eclipses, we are reminded by God, the Bishop, and nature, that darkness is passing. Because of the Resurrection, we know that the Light of Christ will always break through.
As citizens, we must pray and work for just, fair, and honest solutions to the problems of society. However, as the Church, the People of God have hope because the Lord rose from the Dead. This darkness can be overcome, especially through prayer, sacrifice, respect for human dignity, and being renewed in the Mercy of God. Let us turn to Our Lady who points us to the Light of Her Son. As we head “back to school,” wherever you learn, let us continue to study the teachings of Christ and always look up.
In Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart,
Fr. Bjorn Lundberg
* * *
From the Catholic Diocese of Arlington
Acquire all the virtues you wish you had.