From the Bishop

January dreams, expectations and prayers

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.”
(ROM 12:12)

These solid instructions from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans certainly help us to put together some first-class resolutions for a new year that may, in the midst of many different kinds of concerns and thoughts, shape a useable future that will lead with optimism. Individual and family gatherings at the beginning of the year increase our goodwill and our intentions to make some of our deepest prayers a true reality in our lives.

God communicates to us in the phenomenal potency of the Incarnation. It is from this incomprehensible miracle that we come to know the fact that we are called to care for all life from conception to natural death.”

Sometimes, though, our best intentions and our purest motivations are not always so easy for us. Life has a way of “throwing us a few curves” and causing complications, even for the best of our expectations. We certainly have seen those situations in the recent past.

Family matters can become major issues, especially as new families start to plan their lives and futures together. Planning for a new baby, for instance, can take us further beyond simply trying to figure out a pink or blue color scheme for the nursery. Becoming parents, perhaps for the first time, can be among the most exciting and daunting experiences a married couple can face. Receiving a child, a gift of God’s love and an expression of your love for each other, enriches your relationship and multiplies joys that are best celebrated as
a part of married love.

In our contemplation about the past Christmas season and the optimistic plans for the new year, we need to reflect upon God’s plan for human life. God sees humanity in very clear and beautiful ways. God communicates those thoughts to us in the phenomenal potency of the Incarnation in human history. It is from this incomprehensible miracle that we come to know and appreciate the dignity that is ascribed to human life and the fact that we are called to care for all life from conception to natural death. God gives life and allows us, through human love, to articulate that love in the birth of children and our care for their spiritual development, education and positive growth.

We, as faithful Catholics, members of the human race and believers in the ultimate perfectibility of humanity according to the plan of God, once again see respect for human life not only as a residual benefit of the Incarnation, but as a manifestation of that useable future and optimistic perspective we would like to maintain about what we may expect as part of the unfolding of the human story. St. Paul, as I alluded to earlier, filled the faithful of Rome (and throughout the centuries thereafter) with a sense of joyful hope, patience in affliction and the much-needed fidelity in prayer. These are timeless values and the core teaching of our beloved faith. As families, in particular, plan for the future and seek ways in which they may live more happily and more productive lives, these Pauline directives provide the necessary foundations for holiness— the true resolve for our lives.

Most Reverend William Patrick
CALLAHAN is the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of La Crosse

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