Rooted in Peace
Monday night, I participated in the 48th Rosary Procession and Mass for Peace in Fall River. We were blessed to have among us some people who attended the very first procession in 1975, where nearly 10,000 people gathered in Kennedy Park to pray for peace. This year’s procession and Mass were well attended, with St. Mary’s Cathedral filled with the faithful seeking the Blessed Mother’s intercession for a restoration of peace in our world — especially in the Holy Land and Ukraine.
I wanted to summarize my homily for you, which focused on an analogy of a large tree and how we can cultivate and grow peace in our hearts, our homes, and our world. The roots of this tree are the Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is from the roots that we draw our love, strength, and hope. The trunk represents our own faith that is nurtured by the Blessed Trinity.
Every tree needs branches; for this analogous tree to produce the fruit of peace, it must possess the branches of conversion, love (of recognizing the need for each other), compassion, justice, respect (for ourselves, others, and our environment), honesty, and humility. When, and only when, we nurture and care for that tree will we see peace grow and bloom within each of us. May we work to cultivate this spirit of peace, and may it abundantly spill out into our world.
Diocesan Youth Day
Saturday, the Secretariat of the New Evangelization hosted our Diocesan Catholic Youth Day 2023 at Cathedral Camp in Freetown. What a blessing to witness the hope of the Church as I presided over the day’s Mass surrounded by youth and youth leaders from across the diocese. Every seat was filled, and the joy and excitement from those present was tangible!
I wanted to share with you some of the thoughts I shared in my homily on Saturday.
The word friend comes from the old English word “the one who loves.” This is why the word amigo is similar to amor. A friend is someone who loves and whom I love. Can we say that Jesus is our friend? Jesus said that He no longer calls us slaves but calls us friends, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
To the youth, I reminded them how Saturday’s gathering was a time we could foster a new friendship with each other and Jesus to establish new connections. While your favorite form of connection is usually on your phone, I want to commend you for not being on your phones for the day but for walking around talking to each other. You may not spend a lot of time personally connecting, but allow yourself a new experience.
To each of you, I remind you not to forget. Jesus is our friend, our best friend, for our life’s journey. None of us are made to live alone in this life. How many friends do you have on social media versus how many of your friends do you actually talk to in person?
When St. Paul says, “Don’t have any anxiety at all, but in all things with prayer and thanksgiving, make your request known to God” (Philippines 4:6), he is also speaking to us. Over 2000 years later, his words still resonate with us. People are dealing with great anxiety because they are disconnected in real life. The beginning to gaining and maintaining “a peace that surpasses all understanding” is to talk to Jesus, have less anxiety, and pray to God.
Jesus is the stone rejected by the builders, but God built a new structure: God built the Church on Jesus. You and I now carry on the mission of the Church. We are the workers in the vineyard. One day, He will ask us how well we did to take care of His vineyard.
I hope all those who attended Saturday’s youth day went home renewed and reenergized with new friendships and a new friendship with Christ and to build up Christ’s Church. I pray each of you will also find hope in these words and will journey alongside our youth to revitalize our Church and grow as people of great faith.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To learn more about the Catholic response, visit the U.S. Bishop’s website for their Pastoral Letter, “When I Call for Help.”
If you, a family member, or a friend need help now, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800‐799‐7233 (24 hours); 800‐787‐3224 (TTY), www.thehotline.org.
What Can I Do To Be Helpful If An Abusive Situation Is Revealed?
- Listen, Believe, and Refer. Share that the abuse is not God’s will. Say that help is available 24/7 at the National Domestic Violence Hotline:1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-324 (TTY), or at www.ndvh.org.
- Let them know that without intervention, abuse often escalates in frequency and severity over time.
- Seek expert assistance by calling the NDVH. Refer them only to specialized domestic violence counseling programs, not to couples counseling.
- If possible, encourage the abusive person to seek help. Attending an appropriate 12-step recovery group has been a source of recovery for many people. (Source: www.catholicsforfamilypeace.org)
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha