This is a time of the year when, in Church circles here in the United States, there are a number of different moments being highlighted and celebrated. They often go largely unnoticed, however, as in real terms we’re shaking off the dust of the holidays last month, and moving headlong into the new year that stretches before us.
January 21-29 this year marks our Nine Days for Life. Every year, coinciding with the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court court decision, the church in the United States highlights the importance of our commitment to the sacred character of human life. 9 Days for Life is a multi-faceted novena for the respect and protection of human life. Resources for prayer and for suggested actions to promote our witness to the dignity of life is offered on the website of the U.S. Bishops at 9daysforlife.com. On a more local level, just a week ago in Los Angeles there was a gathering of thousands who turned out for the annual OneLifeLA event. This walk and festival-like event celebrates and promotes the beauty and dignity of every human life from conception to natural death. onelifela.org
We’ve just completed the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, or the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity that takes place from January 18 - January 25 each year. January 18 marked the traditional feast of the Chair of Peter, and January 25 marked the Conversion of St. Paul. The choice of these dates bears obvious significance for the Christian Church in the world. Every year, the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity is sponsored by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Ecumenical Affairs. For too long in history the experience of separation and disunity in the Christian Church has been a contradiction to the witness of believers everywhere, and to the desire of Jesus himself who desires “that they may be one.” The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement have a particular mission in this work, and their Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute offers many resources to help foster this mission. geii.org
Catholic Schools Week traditionally falls on the last week of January. This year the theme is “Catholic School: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” Traditionally, this is a time to showcase what makes Catholic schools the best when families are looking to find the right school for them. During this time, schools typically observe the week with Masses, assemblies and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members to celebrate and congratulate. Here at Lourdes, we are proud of our school and the accomplishments of our students and alumni. It is well worth dropping by to see what our school is about in 2020, even if you don’t have children in the school. Our Lady of Lourdes School is an integral aspect of our catholic commitment to education, and to making the world a better place. See elsewhere in the bulletin for more detailed information.
On this Sunday, the Third in Ordinary Time, we also celebrate the inaugural Sunday of the Word of God. The Church throughout the world marks this day as one on which we are invited to “experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world.” With advances in biblical and archeological studies, Sacred Scripture has become so much more accessible to believers in recent decades. Within the Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council has not only opened up our appreciation for scripture, but explicitly encourages us to make the word of God more practical in our lives. This day, which honors and reverences in a particular way the Sacred Scriptures in the life of the community of believers, is an opportunity for us to explicitly express our gratitude to God for the gift of His word. It is also an opportunity for us to consider how we can best strive to embody and bear witness to that word in our lives. St. Jerome has been quoted many times as observing that “ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ” (Commentary on the Book of Isaiah, Prologue).
If we want to get to know Jesus better in our own lives, if we want to come to know who Jesus is for us and for the world, then immersing ourselves in the scripture is a sure way to feed our minds and our hearts in developing this relationship. We are blessed, here at Lourdes, to have a vibrant Bible Study group that continues to grow. We have a number of our parishioners who have studied at the Catholic Bible Institute and the Instituto Biblico Catolico, and who serve our communities in a leadership role in our bible study offerings. So perhaps in this New Year we might want to make an intentional effort to deepen our biblical literacy and in this way deepen our discipleship of Jesus.