Today’s reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to Timothy concludes with the heading of this blog entry. One critical way we compete well for the faith is by faithfully persevering in our unique vocation day-to-day. Here is a sketch of my own ‘competing for the faith’ this past week.
Last Friday, I arrived home from a quick trip to St. Petersburg, Florida to be with my friend, Bishop Bob Lynch for the rededication of their Cathedral, St. Jude. What a beautiful celebration for the local church. You can check out Bishop Lynch’s blog including pictures of the event here. The usual one and a half hour drive home from the Denver airport took five hours due to the flooding and closed roads.
After a full morning in the office on Monday, I drove to Casper for an afternoon with the Diocesan Pastoral Council. Consulting with laity, religious, deacons and priests from around the diocese is an important part of how a bishop stays in touch with his people. The diocesan pastoral council is also an important forum for a bishop to receive critical input from the laity about the ministries and life of the local church. I am very blessed to have great representatives working with me on behalf of the people of the Diocese of Cheyenne.
I met with several other important consultative bodies as well this week. Every bishop also has a group of his priests that make up several important avenues for a bishop to both hear from and communicate with his clergy. There is a Presbyteral Council, made up of priests from around the diocese. Each of these priests are elected by the full body of priests to represent them to the bishop. The agenda for these meetings can be wide-ranging, and is generally where priests may bring topics of concern or interest for discussion.
Another standing group which every bishop organizes for important consultation is the College of Consultors. Members of this Council are appointed by the bishop or drawn from the elected members of the Presbyteral Council. Decisions regarding Church patrimony (property and finances of the diocese) require the bishop to hear the College of Consultors prior to making a decision. There are other areas of diocesan business which also require such consultation. Of course, the bishop can ask for their advise on any number of issues where he desires a broader source of input and thought.
Most Catholics also know that a diocese is further broken down by deaneries, and each deanery has a priest appointed by the bishop called a Dean. (very creative, right!) In this diocese, the deans make an annual visit to all parishes within their deanery to review the sacramental records, take a look at all the parish properties to assure they are receiving proper care, and visit with the local pastor about any areas of interest or concern. The deans also serve as the personnel board for the diocese in assisting me with decisions regarding clergy transfers.
Finally, we had nearly 200 parish leaders gather from Tuesday evening through lunch on Thursday for this year’s September Institute. The gathering is always for the clergy and parish leaders from around the diocese. Our focus this year was on the New Evangelization. Our presenters were Mr. Jim Beckman and Dr. Michel Therrien from the Augustine Institute. It was a very informative and inspiring couple of days!
Besides receiving some great information and concrete ideas regarding how we are to both live and advance the New Evangelization, both Michel and Jim are tremendous examples of laymen alive with the faith. As they both instructed us, this is the first step of the New Evangelization, for each individual to be alive in their relationship with Christ so we can witness to Christ first by our life, and then by invitation and example.
I’ll be speaking about the New Evangelization more on this blog well into the future. For now, I simply wish to invite this readership again to a renewed relationship with Christ. It is all so basic when you get right down to it: Prayer, Sacraments, time with God’s Word, personal study of the faith (reading the Catechism, Encyclicals, Church Documents such as from Vatican II) and practicing charity.
As Pope Francis has told and demonstrated, the New Evangelization is about being with the people, being near them, in dialogue with them about their basic human needs. It is about being a conduit of God’s mercy and humility for others in the model of Jesus Christ.
Once all these gatherings and liturgies were completed, I made my way to the K2 Studios to film two more Masses for the October TV Masses aired each Sunday around the state. Once returned to Cheyenne, the usual correspondence had once again piled up, so a full morning today in the office.
Much like all of you, that is what ‘competing for the faith’ consists of; doing what each day brings according to the unique vocation God calls each of us to in fulfillment of His One Holy Will for all: that we be holy; that we be saved through the tremendous gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Keep living the faith!