One of the practices I began when named a bishop is to take the month of July not so much as a vacation month, but to take more time for prayer and study, and less time in the office. I am still available to my staff, and willing to schedule appointments as needed, but my focus is more on my interior life, and less on the external demands of the office.

As you may expect, it has been a blessing to spend more time in silence before the Blessed Sacrament.  Much as married couples, celibates must take time to nurture their relationship with the LORD.  So far this month, I have spent less time telling the LORD what my needs are, and more time simply recalling His goodness, fidelity, and love.  It has been a time to renew my own desire for Him, and be mindful of His great desire for me.

This kind of prayer is very much what the coming Year of Faith is calling us to.  Spending quiet time with the LORD and His WORD are central to our Christian life and identity, and are the fonts that give life to all our work, apostolic as well as worldly.  This being soundly rooted in the LORD is what makes our worldly, daily life, apostolic.

Today’s Gospel leads me to pray for all God’s people to be open to Him, to Christ, to His Gospel and His Church. 

“Woe to you, Chorazin!  Woe to you, Bethsaida!  For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes.

For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.   (Matthew 11:21, 23)

This seems so in line with the thought captured in this week’s Opening Prayer for Mass:

O God, who show the light of your truth to those who go astray, so that they may return to the right path, give all who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ and strive after all that does it honor…  (Opening Prayer, Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time)

I pray that our world, today’s society and culture will be open to hear God’s WORD.  I pray that the values and laws of today will no longer be established by opinion polls, but firmly rooted in the unchanging Truth of God’s law.  I pray that we will all spend more time seeking the Common Good (God’s will), and less time promoting and protecting selfish personal agendas.

Our Diocesan Strategic Plan invites our families (all of us) to renew their own Sacramental practice in the life of the Church.  I pray all or our people will spend more time in prayer, and let their own desire for the LORD lead them to strengthen His life in them, and their life in Him, through the Sacraments of the Church.

I know our families are under many demands today, with economics and social pressures.  For these reasons, we need the Light that comes from the Gospel.  We need the Truth of the Gospel that is unchanging.  We need the steady guidance of the Tradition of the Church to maintain our own secure  foundation in this world. 

 Our world, as each of us, truly needs God, and many of the needs of our present world can only be met by God.  However, God still seeks our free, and willing cooperation with His plan.  Let us pray for true Wisdom for all people to not withdraw from God.  May each of us be open to this Providential will of God, and let us pray for a greater openness in the world around us to Good God desires for us.