Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

So my dear friends, I believe it is an indisputable fact that physical life could not exist without light. I mean if the sun literally disappeared, the world would cease. It would become so cold nothing that lives could exist. And even in the natural world that we see, you know, you can notice that flowers and plants turn towards the light because it’s the light that allows them the photosynthesis to survive.

And even in our ordinary life, I mean, the last few weeks have been awfully gloomy, haven’t they? Lots of rain. And yet don’t our spirits perk up when the sun is shining? See, we’re physically created to respond to and welcome the light.

That may be true in the physical world. It is also true in the spiritual world, isn’t it?

Isaiah prophesied a people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Christmas allowed us to celebrate the
Light coming into the world, and that Light is the Lord Jesus. And our spirits hunger for that Light because when we allow that Light to enter into our lives, He changes us.

For example, He comes as Light to our minds so that we might be able to understand the truths that really matter.
The truths that only God can teach. The truths that allow us to journey life to our real destination, which is to
share His very Divine Life and to live in glory forever.

Our spirits yearn for the Light because when you and I fall into the darkness of sin, we know we’re in a place we should
not be. For while we could be lured into sin because of false promises or seeking self-gratification, or following the ways of the world, we end up more empty when we sin than when we first began. And so we long for a light that will lead us to a better way in the power of the Holy Spirit, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

And yet, my friends, as we gather today continuing our catechism on discipleship, we must recognize that if we seek the Light of Christ, it comes with a cost. And this week we need to contemplate whether or not you and I are willing
to pay that cost. So you may say, Bishop, what ultimately does that mean?

So let’s go back to the physical world for a moment. When we welcome even the natural light, at times it hurts. C.S Lewis tells the story teaching in one of his classes, how, illustrating the cost of inviting the light, he reminded his college students that if you’re sleeping soundly in bed, enjoying yourself in the bliss of sleep, and someone walks in and turns the lights on, and it wakes you up. When you first open your eyes, what do you experience? It can be painful because your eyes need to welcome and adjust the light.

Now, he says the light is not the cause of the pain. You are, because you were not ready to see it, to receive it – see, this cost. So too my friends, in the spiritual life. For last week we recalled that discipleship is a work of the Holy
Spirit and it’s aimed first and foremost to proclaim to the world that this Lord is Jesus, who today we recognize is the
Light of the World. And so we must contemplate whether or not you and I are willing to pay the price to welcome Him.

So for example, if you and I are willing to have the Light of Christ enter our minds, are we willing to be humble and obedient? Are we willing to set aside our ego and our own opinions? Are we willing to be humble before the
Lord and accept the truth as He has taught it? Not as we would like Him to teach us and to repeat the secular phrase
to ‘accept the whole truth and nothing but the truth’. Are we willing to pay that price?

And so too my friends if we welcome the light into our spirits and souls, for it comes as fire to burn away our sins.
And the truth is, there are some sins in your life and mind that we’re willing to give up, and there are others that perhaps not as easily. We cling to them in the darkness that we create. We compromise with God and say: I will do only this much, but do not ask me for the next step. We will make excuses for ourselves to say, well it ‘really wasn’t all that bad, people do far worse than that, Lord really, in the end, is not 96 percent enough?’

And the answer is ‘no’, it is not. It’s a hundred percent.

And that is why the grace of the Holy Spirit comes so that when the light enters into the darkness of my heart, and
yours, we might have the power of God accompanying us to open ever more, the shades and the doors in the secrets of
our hearts, so that we might dispel all of the darkness. So we may be truly recreated, one step, one day at a time.

That costs. That demand sacrifice. It can even be painful. But it is all for a greater good that brings true healing,
true life, and true hope in your life and mine.

So allow me to suggest in this third week of ordinary time, when we hear the Prophet say ‘a people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light’. And you and I come here to the House of our Father to ask for that light to come, allow me to ask you: are you and I willing to pay the price of what discipleship really means? So that the light
may truly transform us – one day at a time.

Bishop’s Sunday Mass: Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has begun celebrating Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sundays at 8:30 am, and the faithful throughout the diocese are welcome to join him. For those who plan to attend in person, St. Augustine Cathedral is located at 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org), while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.

My dear friends, in these Sundays that are leading to the beginning of the season of Lent, the Church is giving us an opportunity to relearn, to remember what discipleship really means. And the scripture readings will give us, each Sunday, a different lesson.

But today we have the privilege to have two lessons at the hands of the master teacher Saint John the Evangelist. And as you heard from the Gospel, he relates to us the story of the baptism of the Lord Jesus in a very interesting way.

For unlike Saints Matthew, Mark, and Luke, John never says directly that Jesus is baptized – he implies it. Because his interest is not so much on telling the story the early christians already knew, but rather to begin to position them and prepare them for the response that the baptism asked.

And so where are these two lessons?

They come from John the Baptist, that enigmatic cousin of Jesus who preached a message of repentance, that did not apply to the Lord in the least. But when Jesus went into the waters of the Jordan to be baptized, John says that it is John the Baptist who recognized who he was, precisely because of the coming of the Holy Spirit literally in the form of a dove.

And that my dear friends are the two lessons.

The first, when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit appeared – not for His sake but for our sake. For truly as He was the Son of God, the Eternal Word, He has and will ever forever have a communion with the Holy Spirit.

But in His humanity, the Spirit came because the Spirit is the bridge, my friends, between the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and you and me. For all that Christ was able to bring into the world, all the graces that He wishes to offer could not come to you or me without the Holy Spirit, precisely in your baptism and mine, when we become temples of the Holy Spirit; and if one could say the Spirit hovered over us so that we might become the children of God.

So what’s the first lesson? If you and I wish to be Disciples of Jesus, to go out into the world, we must remember that we can do nothing without His grace. That each day and every day of our lives, you and I must take the time to place ourselves before the power of the Holy Spirit and to ask for the strength to do what we could not do without Him. Particularly in this crazy world in which we live, where everything out there is guiding us, molding us, to walk away from the Lord who will give us the fortitude, the courage, and the strength; who will give us the wisdom and clarity of mind, who will allow us to be reassured when we’re suffering and opposed if not the Holy Spirit?

We oftentimes make the mistake to think that discipleship is in our hands, forgetting that before we even do a thing, it’s the Spirit that wishes to hover over us, to give us the grace that only Christ can give.

And what’s the second lesson?

John, having seen the Spirit, what does he do? He proclaims who Jesus is before He does anything. Behold the Lamb of God! The Lamb of God who, in the Old Testament, in the Covenant of our elders in faith, was the One to be sacrificed for the remission of sins.
Only God can forgive sins. So John saying Behold the Lamb of God, he is saying behold the One who can forgive sins. And only that could be God himself.

So the first act of discipleship, having received each day the grace of the Holy Spirit, is to proclaim who He is. And who is He to the world? Who is He to our families? Who is He for you or for me?

He is our savior, our master, our redeemer, the one who forgives your darkest secrets and mine, the one in whom we have hope of grace and joy, and has prepared a place for us beyond our wildest imagination in a life of perfect love that will never end. That is who we proclaim in word and in witness. And in the coming weeks we will have an opportunity each week to learn a bit more about what that witness in action is all about. But none of that will matter unless we are clear who it is that calls us into mission, and who it is to whom we owe our allegiance.

Allow me to end by simply reminding you, my friends, in about 20 minutes I will be at this altar and I will have the privilege to repeat the words of John the Baptist. Behold the Lamb of God! Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world.

My friends, allow those words this coming week to sit in your mind and heart so that you and I may have the fire of the Holy Spirit burning ever more deeply for the work that the Lord asks us to do.

Bishop’s Sunday Mass: Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has begun celebrating Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sundays at 8:30 am, and the faithful throughout the diocese are welcome to join him. For those who plan to attend in person, St. Augustine Cathedral is located at 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org), while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.

My dear friends in Christ, as our Christmas celebration comes to a close tomorrow, you and I, having celebrated for these last few weeks, the coming of the light into the darkness. Born in the poverty and silence of Bethlehem, the Church asks us to reflect on who this light truly is, so that we might be the messengers of glad tidings in a world that awaits His coming.

And so we celebrate the Mystery of the Epiphany.

Epiphany, in Greek my friends, means to “come to the light”. And so the Church asks us to sit before the light and reflect on who He really is. And there are three Epiphanies. Today we celebrate the first. With the coming of the Magi, the three great mystical Kings of the East who came following their right reason, but came to Bethlehem as a symbol that
all the nations of the earth are destined to kneel before this little child.

For the light came into the world to give hope to every human heart of every race, language, and nation. He came to give hope to saints and sinners. He came so that the day would come when all creation is healed, that every king, queen, president, nation, organization, institution, every country, continent, and land will kneel and acknowledge who He
is.

And you and I come to kneel on this day in imitation of the three kings before the light of the world, to offer not gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the signs of His kingship, priesthood, and the fact that He would lay down His life. But to offer our lives to Him, that we might be faithful to Him and proclaim who He is: the hope of the world.

But He is more than that. For tomorrow, my friends, the Church will end the Christmas season celebrating the baptism of the Lord. For this child who came is God made man. He is the eternal Son who took on flesh so that you and I might become sons and daughters in His Father. For He came not just to give hope, not just to give a way of life, but to give
eternal life; to break the back of sin and death forever.

For that is what our hearts truly long for. We long for the fullness of joy and love and peace, which this world cannot fully give us.

And so in the moment of baptism, this is my beloved Son in which I am well pleased blessing the waters of the world so that they would be the sacrament (eventually) of baptism. You and I have the hope of eternal life in the light born in Bethlehem.

And lastly my dear friends, the third of the Epiphanies will be next Sunday. You and I will be here together again and will we hear the beautiful account of Jesus at Cana performing the first of his seven Great Miracles in the Gospel of John. In a banquet, in a wedding, reminding us of the Wedding Feast of Heaven – where what does He do? He takes water and miraculously makes it become wine so that, on the night before He died, He might take wine and miraculously make it His sacred body, blood, soul and divinity. So that the promise of eternal life may not be a distant promise but the light comes to dwell in your soul and mine, and feeds your spirit and mind so that you and I, each day, may have the strength to walk to eternal life in Him, the Mystery of the Epiphany.

Who is it that was born in Bethlehem, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the Son of God, Eternal Savior and Redeemer who has come as food to feed us unto eternal life?

Tuesday we begin ordinary life, ordinary time. So allow me to offer you something to reflect on this week. My friends, in your ordinary life and mine, do we have the courage to preach, to teach, and to witness in our actions who this little boy really is. Are we afraid to Proclaim Him as the King of Kings and the One to whom everyone owes their allegiance? Do you and I hesitate to proclaim to the world and in our actions that we believe that He is God? Not a prophet, not a guru, not a humanitarian, not a teacher of philosophy – He is God made man.

And when we come each Sunday, and each time we come to the altar, do we believe in our heart of hearts? And are we willing to proclaim out in that world that when we come here, in the mystery of grace, we meet Him – this King, this Lord, this Son in His body, blood, soul, and divinity so we might be the friends of the ones He came to befriend. The poor, sick, the lonely, those who are alone, those whom the world has discarded, those who live in the shadows.

My dear friends, the spirit of Christmas does not endure for only a few weeks of the year. The spirit of Christmas is to live in our hearts, always. And we know that to be true to the extent that you and I are willing to proclaim out there that the light has come: the King, Son and the Savior of us all.

Bishop’s Sunday Mass: Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has begun celebrating Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sundays at 8:30 am, and the faithful throughout the diocese are welcome to join him. For those who plan to attend in person, St. Augustine Cathedral is located at 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org), while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.

My dear friends, Happy New Year to you all.

Today we gather on the octave that is the Eighth Day of Christmas to honor the woman without whom we would not have the great Mystery of the Incarnation and the offer of salvation in Him: Mary the sinless virgin, who we call, with great dignity and reverence, the Mother of God.

You recall my friends, in the early Church, there was much controversy about that very title in Greek “Theotokos”. Because the logical question to ask was: how could a creature give birth to God? How could God have a mother? And in the great discernment that occurred under the influence and grace of the Holy Spirit at the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Church proclaimed infallibly that Mary is in fact not the incubator of the word of God in the world, not the giver only of His human nature, but in fact she is the Mother of God who took on flesh in His Son. And therefore she holds a place of great privilege, as we know, the highest of all creation apart from her Son. And she is our mother as well. And therefore, as a good mother, she is always ready to teach us a good lesson.

And allow me to suggest on this, the first day of this new year, she wishes to offer me and you a very important lesson. And it is contained in one sentence in the gospel we heard today from Saint Luke. We heard it said/proclaimed ‘and she held all these things reflecting on them in her heart’. From the vocate, another way to translate the word ‘reflecting’ would be also be ‘to ponder’ – to ponder these things in her heart.

You see my dear friends, our lady teaches us that if we wish to be faithful disciples of her Son, you and I need to learn how to ponder and reflect on the things that matter in our hearts. For that is not easy. Our lady certainly had much to ponder.

We heard today the coming of the Shepherds. Recall in the ancient world, the Shepherds were the outcasts second only to the lepers. They would not be welcomed in the cities. They were left out there to do their work, the lowest of the low in society. And yet they came to bring the greetings of the Son born to her as His meaning began to unfold. Much to ponder, whom the Lord chooses to be his privileged messenger. Only to be followed by the three Magi, kings of great repute and wealth, privilege and status, from the four corners of the earth. Tey too came, because He was destined to be the King of all nations, races and peoples. Again, much to ponder.

And then, of course at the foot of the cross of the Son, born in the stable of Bethlehem, they were certainly for a mother’s broken heart. Much to ponder and reflect.

For my dear friends, what does it mean to ponder? It means to suspend judgment; not come to rash decisions to stand before the mysteries that we encounter in life, and surrender to them, and allow them to sit in our hearts, and give time to God to reveal in His way as He wishes their meaning.

To ponder means that to recall that you and I are not the center of the universe – that we will not have always all the fullness of answers. There will be things we cannot fully answer in this life, and rightfully so, because the center of our lives is the child born in Bethlehem. It’s God made man, and His Father, and the power of His Holy Spirit.

To ponder and to reflect in the spiritual life is to surrender, to seek obedience, and to wait for God to speak, to teach, to lead, to console, and even to leave questions unanswered. It is the discovery of what it means to be a creature before a Creator – a Creator who took on the life of a creature so that you and I might have eternal life.

It seems to me in our 21st century world, pondering and reflecting is in short supply. Because we live in a very aggressive, self-consumed world. We want what we want when we want it. We want answers the way we like it. We want to be in charge of everything, and what we cannot control or answer we just disregard, ignore, leave to the side.

And my dear friends, in the spiritual life, the stuff we’re tempted to leave aside is the very stuff that will set us free. It’s the very things that will give us entry to God precisely because the only response we have is to ponder in our hearts. Sickness of a child, the sufferings in our own lives, the wounds you and I did not ask for, the troubles we see plaguing our world, the brokenness in many of our families, and the mystery of our own sinfulness – yours and mine – and the reckless, generous, wild mercy of God who loves us despite our deepest secrets.

There is much to ponder in life and our lady did it. And because she did it, she remained sinless, obedient, and the perfect disciple, and she is our mother to teach us to do the same.

So allow me to ask: if it was good enough for the great Mother of God, why would it not be good enough for you and me?

Bishop’s Sunday Mass: Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has begun celebrating Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sundays at 8:30 am, and the faithful throughout the diocese are welcome to join him. For those who plan to attend in person, St. Augustine Cathedral is located at 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org), while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.

Good morning everyone and Merry Christmas to you all. It feels like Christmas in here anyway.

I am sure my dear friends at this very relatively early hour of Christmas Day there are countless young children and perhaps those a bit older who are running to their Christmas trees to look at what Saint Nicholas and their loved ones have left them as gifts.

And of course that tradition, my dear friends, you know in this season comes from the three great gifts of the Magi; a feast we will celebrate in a few weeks with the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh offered to the Christ child to reveal Him to be priest prophet and the one who was born into the world, to die to give us life.

And yet, as beautiful as it is to have the tradition to leave gifts under the Christmas tree, it seems to me that it is a far more beautiful tradition to not just give gifts but to exchange gifts…to look (at) the person, greet the person, and give over the gift that you and I have purchased for them.

Because we all know how difficult it is to get the perfect gift. Because a gift says something about the giver and the receiver. For certainly the person to receive the gift, it is a sign of our love, our esteem, our affection, and we want it to be just right.

But it also says something about the giver and his or her generosity and desire to lift the person; to grant them not just their material goods but a share of happiness and joy. Because the gift represents the love that you and I have in our hearts for the person before us.

The exchange of gifts is a beautiful gesture and it is the reason we come here this morning with joy in our hearts. For my dear friends, we have come here to celebrate the birth of a gift who is our Savior and Redeemer.

But we also come here to remember that He came into the world to exchange a gift. And that exchange is the source of our redemption.

For consider my friends, St. John says: and the word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. Literally, He pitched His tent in our world.

For Jesus was offering to us and all who believe in Him a great gift: a share in His divine life and glory, a place in heaven where we could have the fullness of what it means to be human.

But He is also accepting a gift from you and me, and all who share humanity. For we gave Him our broken lives, our lives that are marred, our lives that are burdened, our lives at times that are broken. And the child accepted the gift joyfully.

Christ gave us His divinity so that we might grant to Him His humanity, our humanity, and all of what needed to be healed.

My friends, consider how much God loves us to empty Himself of His glory and power; to receive such a fragile gift and to accept it with His fullness of love and joy.

To put it simply my friends on Christmas, Christ became poor by what we gave Him, so that you and I might be rich by what He gave us.

That is why, my friends, when you come to this creche and kneel before it, remember how much the Giver loves us in the gift He has given us this day.

But allow me to offer you a challenge; for Christmas for Christians is not just celebrated one day of the year. We celebrate the exchange of gifts every day of the year.

For Christ offers us His life and His love, His joy, and a share in His divinity every moment of every day. Most especially, we become here to His altar to receive His body and blood, soul and divinity. And so He offers us His riches so that what might we do; we might lift up the poverty of those around us, try to heal in our own way the brokenness of those whom we meet.

For my dear friends, you and I come here to be strengthened with the gift of Christ’s life so that we might go out into that world and meet those who have not yet met Him, who do not know the love that you and I know in Him.

We go out in word and action so that those who we will meet, who will be very poor, lonely, sick, afraid, hopeless, looking for just simply someone who they can turn to you. And I will go out into that world and exchange gifts with them a share of the life Christ has given us. And accept back from them their loneliness with friendship, their tears with a smile, their empty hand with our hand in their hands, to let them know that they are not alone.

That is the great challenge of Christmas. And it seems to me my friends, as we leave this church to celebrate the rest of this day with our families and with our friends, perhaps to exchange more gifts, and to share a meal which is the Bounty of the Lord, let us remember that we must keep giving. We must keep exchanging until the miracle of Christmas brings us all home to the glory of everlasting life.

My friends, may you have the merriest of Christmases and may God bless you and your families all the days of your lives, through Christ Our Lord, amen.

Bishop’s Sunday Mass: Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has begun celebrating Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sundays at 8:30 am, and the faithful throughout the diocese are welcome to join him. For those who plan to attend in person, St. Augustine Cathedral is located at 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org), while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.

Now that Christmas is fast approaching, I’m sure all of us have memories of how Christmas was celebrated when we were young in our own lives.

I myself have many fond memories of large gatherings when the Caggiano clan would come together, aunts and uncles, cousins sharing a meal, celebrating the joy of the season.

And inevitably when we gather together as a family, as you could imagine, our conversations went here and there and everywhere – and always to some or another controversial issue.

And as a little boy I remember one of my aunts – it always changed who – would always say the same thing. When the topic came up she would say “but what will the people say? They’ll talk.” And the conversation ended.

It was almost as if that was the death knell to whatever was being discussed, that could raise any hint of disapproval or worse.

For the longest time growing up I wondered to myself, well, who are “these people” that are talking? Growing up in the middle of Brooklyn, who were these people?

But as I grew older I began to understand that my aunts and uncles, who all were raised, as my parents, in a very small village – no more than 2,000 people – I knew who “the people” were…who they meant and what they were afraid of.

Because in a small village, if you lose the respect of the people around you, if you lose the esteem of your neighbors, your entire life can be upended.

My friends, we need to remember that when we hear the words of the Gospel today and the extraordinary heroism of Saint Joseph. For we must remember that the cities of the time of Jesus were very small villages. And everyone knew everyone else (in affect), and therefore imagine the pressure on Joseph, having heard that Mary was with child – a child that was not his – and the fear the trepidation of what the people would say.

Now that is not inconsequential. Because if you lose the respect of your neighbors, you also lose their business, and suddenly it’s not just esteem but it’s your very livelihood that can be threatened.

And so there was Joseph, convinced in his love for Mary, to leave her in a quiet way so that there would be no big hoopla. But nonetheless, with all the pressures around him…imagine, my friends, the courage it took for Joseph, hearing the voice of the Lord, to say “yes”.

Despite the fact that his family could turn their back on him, despite the fact the fact that his neighbors would ostracize him, despite the fact that it could actually cost him his job, his livelihood, his standing – he said yes, regardless of the sacrifice.

And as we know from Joseph, the man did not utter a single word in sacred scripture, that we see. That Jesus learned how to read and write from Joseph. He learned His prayers from Joseph. He went to synagogue every Sabbath with Joseph.

Joseph faithfully, devoutly, daily lived his “yes” that he made to the angel Gabriel in the dream, when he got up and obeyed what was asked, regardless of what his family thought, his neighbors thought, what society thought. Whether he was rich or poor, it made no difference. He was faithful to God’s will to the end. An end that even you and I do not know when and how it happened.

On this fourth Sunday in Advent then, my friends, allow me to suggest a question. For you and I to think about in this week, before we kneel before the Christ child and welcome Him once again in the poverty of Bethlehem.

In the rough and tumble of our modern life, perhaps where we are not so much concerned as what the people may say, the truth is many of us fall into the temptation to be be worried about what others may say. Other things may lead us to influence us, to guide us in our conduct.

So the question is: what price are you and thy willing to pay to do the will of God?
How much are you and I willing to give up?
Are we willing to give up our reputation, the esteem of our friends, the acceptance of our family?
Are you and I willing to give up our comfort, our possessions, our employment?
To what level will you and I stop in our obedience to the will of God?

For Joseph, there was no limit. My guess is for you and me, we have our limits. And this is the week, standing before the example of Joseph, to ask ourselves: am I willing to take one further step in offering, whatever it is, to Christ, so that I may do His will for me?

The answer to that question may be different for each of us. But (it) is a question I ask you to pray over in the days ahead. In the fourth Sunday of Advent, the church always draws its attention to the example of our Blessed Virgin Mary. Because without her there would be no Savior and Redeemer. Her “yes” set us free in Him.

But without Joseph’s “yes” our lady could not have found her place in society to fulfill what God has asked of us of her.

And so today I ask you to look to Him for inspiration confidence and peace. How much are you willing to give up for Jesus? Joseph knew the answer to that question.

Do we?

Bishop’s Sunday Mass: Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has begun celebrating Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sundays at 8:30 am, and the faithful throughout the diocese are welcome to join him. For those who plan to attend in person, St. Augustine Cathedral is located at 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org), while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.

Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent. The term is derived from the Latin opening words of the introit antiphon, “Rejoice (Gaudete) in the Lord always.” It is a time to express the joy of anticipation at the approach of the Christmas celebration.

In his homily delivered at his weekly Sunday Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano reflected on the importance of having patience with others in order “to be the ambassadors of God’s love in the big and small things of life.”

“This is the Sunday of Joy, my friends Gaudete Sunday. And it seems to me that as we wait for the coming of Jesus at Christmas, as we wait for the coming of Christ in glory, when he returns to judge the living and the dead, as we wait for entering ourselves into the glory and eternal life of heaven, as we wait through life, God promises us joy only to the extent that we are willing to be patient and to love and to surrender to his will and all else will be ours in Christ.,” Bishop Caggiano said.

Full Transcript

My dear friends, perhaps it’s my imagination, but it seems to me coming out of covid that more and more people seem to be cross, impatient, confrontational – for perhaps many reasons.

That’s not to say that patience was something we often saw in those around us before covid, but it certainly seems to be in short supply since covid is – please God – being more and more under control.

Whether we’re talking about people who are confrontational at the lines at the supermarkets, or in the gyms, or in our conversation, never mind driving on the Meritt (which was always a challenge and now it’s an obstacle course) and then social media (we won’t even go there), and you and I in our daily lives may also at times be tempted to be impatient.

All of that flies against what Saint James tells us in in his epistle that we are called to be patient until the coming of the Lord. Which if the second coming does not occur in our lifetime means we are to be patient until our death.

How do we grow in patience? Perhaps we begin by asking what patience is.

If you look at the dictionary and look up the word patience, it says “patience is the ability to tolerate or accept delay frustration or any other obstacle without anger, without being upset”. To tolerate frustration and not be upset.

What’s interesting is, if you consider in your life and mine, we’re called to be patient in many different circumstances. For example, in the normal things that happen in life; you are behind someone who is driving slowly and you need to move on… you’re on a supermarket line and that the register teller, the clerk, is new and is learning how to do what he or she needs to do – the normal things of life are tests of patience.

And then there are our relationships. Those of you who are married will know that…those who are of who are friends here, even in my own life, with those who (with whom) I’m close, those whom I love, those with who I deal with, there are going to be circumstances that demand that we be patient. Perhaps for a very long time.

And then perhaps the biggest obstacle of all, the biggest challenge of all, or in those opportunities or in those circumstances where we experience long-term challenges: sickness, unemployment, the sorrow that comes from the death of someone we love very dearly…and how to deal with that which occurs in our hearts demands patience.

And so it is essential for us to understand how you I can grow in that great quality. And perhaps like everything else in the spiritual life, if we look at sacred scripture, we will find the answer. And in this case we will find it in the very life and example of God.

It is interesting my friends that God is described in the scriptures as being patient 39 times. And the most important of all, the one that is most descriptive, appears in the second letter of Saint Peter in the third chapter where he says (Peter himself says) “God is patient for our salvation” – patient with you and me – so that we might accept the gift he wishes to give us.

So what is it about God that allows him to be so patient? My friends it is who God is.

Because we believe God is love. Meaning God’s all life, His entire life is a gift for the good of another, in Himself and in creation. That for patience to be true it means that you and I, and our ego, and our desires, and our satisfaction, and our self-absorption, has to give way to an attitude that is loving. That puts the other person first. They are good first. They are concerned first.

See, for God it is who He is because He is pure love. Pure Divine love. You and I, made in His image and likeness, are called to also love. And that is where the challenge is.

Because at times we become impatient, and the people around us become impatient, because we are forgetting that it’s not about me. It’s not about what I want. It’s not about my expectation. It’s not about my opinion. It’s not about what I desire.

But made in God’s image and Sanctified by his holy spirit, our eyes (are) always should be on our neighbor with an understanding heart, with the forgiving heart, with a kind heart. And when we fail to do that, one of the signs is, we become impatient with those around us.

We forget why we are here in the first place – to be the ambassadors of God’s love in the big and small things of life.

So may I suggest my friends in this week of Advent, this third week of Advent, perhaps you and I can spend this week examining our conscience on how patient we really are. How patient we are with those whom we love…with those whom we work…with those with whom we associate…and with the strangers we will meet in the rough and tumble of life. It is a healthy exercise.

Because if we, in our honesty, can actually admit that there are times when we are truly impatient, then that is pointing to a greater issue. It is pointing to those occasions when we have forgotten we are called to love our neighbor as ourself.

This is the Sunday of Joy my friends – Gaudete Sunday. That is why I am dressed in Rose. And it seems to me that as we wait for the coming of Jesus at Christmas, as we wait for the coming of Christ in glory, when he returns to judge the living and the dead, as we wait for entering ourselves into the glory and eternal life of Heaven, as we wait through life – God promises us joy only to the extent that we are willing to be patient, and to love, and to surrender to His will.

And all else will be ours in Christ.

Bishop’s Sunday Mass: Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has begun celebrating Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sundays at 8:30 am, and the faithful throughout the diocese are welcome to join him. For those who plan to attend in person, St. Augustine Cathedral is located at 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org), while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.