Risks for the kingdom

Anything worth doing requires risk. When Fathers Joseph Machebeuf and John Raverdy set out in 1860 for Colorado from Santa Fe, New Mexico they took a big risk, but they knew that the reason they were taking it—to nurture and save souls—was worth any sufferings they might encounter.

It is hard to imagine today, but when the two priests arrived in Denver City, the population was only 3,000 people. Passing travelers, men involved in trading or the Gold Rush, and about 10 families meant that there were around 200 Catholics in the area, but they had no church or clergy.

Father Machebeuf would later become the founding bishop of our archdiocese, which now has more than 500,000 faithful. The risks that he took for the kingdom were great, but the rewards were even greater.

This past week many of you received material from this year’s Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal. You will see that I chose “Disciples Take Risks for the Kingdom” as the theme for the 2015 appeal. I decided on this theme because every Catholic is called to step forward in faith when the Lord asks us to trust in him, just as our first priests did.

We see this in Scripture when Jesus gave the disciples the “Great Commission.” After he had risen, he told them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations ….” Jesus accompanied this charge with the assurance that he would be with them “always, until the close of the age” (Mt 28:19). In the subsequent centuries the Church has spread to the ends of the earth precisely because men and women trusted in God and took the leap into the unknown.

But the call to bring the Gospel to everyone is not just geographic in nature. Jesus asks us to bring him into our families, careers, interactions with strangers, and our finances.

The Acts of the Apostles tells us how the early Christians understood that placing the goods God had given them at his service was an indispensable part of believing the Gospel. “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts 4:32).

The reason that Christ asks us to give, and the reason that the Israelites were commanded to give is that tithing changes our hearts. Giving opens our hearts up to trusting in the Lord and helps us acknowledge that he is the source of all we have. When we give, we take a risk for the kingdom and we open our heart up to trust in God above apparent security of material possessions.

This year, whether you are giving for the first time or are a frequent supporter, I encourage you to prayerfully ask how the Lord is calling you to trust him in the financial and spiritual realms.

When the believers of the community are of one heart and soul in their desire to follow the Lord Jesus, then great things are able to be accomplished for the kingdom. I think, for example, of the more than 1 million nights of shelter that Catholic Charities provided to the homeless last year, the 600,000 meals given to the hungry, or the hundreds of families helped by Regina Caeli Counseling Services.

May God continue to bless you this Easter season and grant you the courage to take risks for the kingdom.

>> Donate to the appeal online here.

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash