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 October 17, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 18Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

Three important matters for East Bay Catholics

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

Generally I have just one topic or theme that I consider in my column, but here in the middle of October I have three matters that I feel are very timely for us to consider.

Prop. 73: The “Parents’ Right to Know” Initiative
First, I want to bring to your prayerful attention Prop. 73: The “Parents’ Right to Know” Initiative. It will appear on the Nov. 8 special election ballot and will mandate that, except for medical emergency or judicial bypass, no abortion could be performed on a minor unless the physician notifies the minor’s parent or legal guardian at least 48 hours before the procedure.

Prop. 73 aims to amend the State Constitution in order to promote, as it says, our “special and compelling interest in and parental responsibility for protecting the health and well-being of children, ensuring that parents are properly informed of potential health-related risks to their children and promoting parent-child communication and parental responsibility.”

I, along with all the other bishops of California, strongly support this initiative. We see that a “young woman’s welfare and society’s common good are best served when family communication is promoted in public policy.”

A minor faced with a serious emotional, psychological and medical decision needs her parents – their love, their wisdom, their counsel. In addition, society’s common good is enhanced when family integrity is honored and parental responsibility is respected.”

Witness to the fundamental importance of the family and an unambiguous commitment to protecting its integrity are great gifts which our Catholic community in the East Bay, through all of its diverse cultures and traditions, offers to our neighbors in the wider society.

Our faith reinforces the conviction that arises quite naturally and spontaneously in hearts and minds attuned to the truth of things about family life: that it is, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, a “ privileged community” wherein children are meant to grow in wisdom, stature and grace, the foundation for “freedom, security, and fraternity within society” (nn. 2206-2207).

Like my brother bishops, I strongly encourage you “to offer [your] full support in promoting Prop. 73 as good public policy and in exercising [your] citizenship in voting for it in November.”
And, so that you can be well-informed on this initiative and share our community’s wisdom with others, I commend to your attention the excellent informational documents on Prop. 73 found on the California Catholic Conference web site: www.cacatholic.org.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal
The second topic I want to touch on is the program of instruction going on in our parishes in these weeks to prepare for the full implementation of the new “General Instruction of the Roman Missal.”
You’ll recall that in publishing the third revised edition of the Roman Missal on Holy Thursday of the Year 2000, our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II made several changes in the ritual we follow in celebrating the Holy Eucharist.

One of the most obvious ones is that the congregation is to stand while saying the prayer “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands….”

The General Instruction also mandated that the bishops of each country were to consider particular adaptations for their own dioceses.

It was in response to this that we bishops specified the posture for the faithful during the Eucharistic Prayer and the Rite of Communion. (The text of the “General Instruction, along with much helpful background information is available on the web site of the U.S. Bishops Conference’s Liturgy Committee: www.usccb.org/liturgy/girm.)

By the First Sunday of Advent here in the Oakland Diocese we will come to the conclusion of the process that Pope John Paul II initiated in the Great Jubilee Year.

Admittedly we have taken a significant amount of time for this, but that’s because we are dealing with a mystery of incomparable importance: the Most Holy Eucharist in which “is contained,” as the Second Vatican Council says so eloquently, “the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch” (PO, 5).

We have had the time we need as pastors and people to understand afresh the meaning of what we are doing.

In that way we will not simply be “complying with directives” but using the words and actions of the Eucharistic Liturgy to enter fully into the Mystery of Christ’s Passover Sacrifice.

I am deeply grateful to all my brother priests, the deacons and their co-workers on parish staffs for their hard work in offering to those they serve the catechesis which has been so essential in this process.

In connection with this effort for ongoing faith formation, I want to mention to you a book I am now reading: “What Happens at Mass” by Father Jeremy Driscoll, OSB (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications). Just as its title indicates, the book aims to offer a guide to understand what happens at Mass – the meaning of what we do and say, and the meaning of what God does and says.
As Archbishop Pilarczyk of Cincinnati puts it in a blurb on the back cover: “This book is simple and straightforward, but not simplified. It is thoughtful and theologically profound.”

This book is excellent, and I predict that it will bear great fruit in the life of the Church. I recommend it to everyone, especially to all those who minister as catechists. You could not find a better way to spend $10.95.

The First Sunday of Advent marks a significant milestone in our diocese’s energetic effort to advance the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy called for by the Second Vatican Council.

This comes very soon after the close of the Year of the Eucharist. In the light of that fact we can rightly think of the First Sunday of Advent as a sort of harvest of the graces we have sought in this Year of the Eucharist, as we have asked our Heavenly Father to fill our hearts and minds once more with the light of Christ’s Spirit about “what happens at Mass.”

Convocation of priests
Finally I want to ask your prayers for my brother priests and me during the days of our Convocation, Oct. 16-21. This time together away from our pastoral duties is an important part of the on-going formation we need in order to serve as your pastors.

What is happening is that we are living again the very experience that Peter and John and Philip and the others of the Twelve had with Christ when he said to them, “Come away by ourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while” (Mk 6:31), so that he can teach us how to be priests after his own heart.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will work powerfully in us so that he can make the Word take flesh again in our hearts.


Previous "In His Light" Columns by Bishop Allen H. Vigneron

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