Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

BRIDGEPORT— “We are successful to the extent that we are willing to die to ourselves and allow Christ to shine in us,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said at the annual Mass for employees at the End of the Curial Year.

More than 60 Catholic Center office staff gathered at the nearby St. Andrew Church in Bridgeport for the Mass followed by a luncheon in the school hall. It was the first large, in-person gathering in which employees could see each other face to face without masks since the pandemic began.

“It’s good to see everyone in person, to gather for worship, and to come together as a family,” the bishop said. “The long winter of Covid is coming to an end. We have experienced much over the past 16 months,” he said, noting that it will take time to come to terms with it all.

The bishop personally thanked employees for their hard work and all they did to bring hope to the people of the diocese during the Covid crisis.

In his homily, the Bishop reflected on Luke’s account of the ministry of John the Baptist and said the gospel prompts a question:  “How do we measure success as followers of Jesus?”

The bishop said that business measures success by profits, customer engagement, or market share, and educators can gauge student tests and achievement, but how does a Church measure success?

In recent years in the northeast the Church has faced many challenges and is a long way from its golden years of building new parishes and schools, he said.

Likewise, seen through the lens of worldly success, John the Baptist’s life would be looked upon as a failure—he made people angry, he was abandoned in his ministry, and he was beheaded, “yet God called him by a name that means ‘God is gracious,’” the bishop said.

He said that John the Baptist “didn’t make it about himself,” but professed his unworthiness to make way for the “Lamb of God.”

Pointing out that economies rise and fall and that wealth and riches come and go, he said that believers must have a different measure of success, “None of that matters if we keep our eyes fixed on Christ. What really matters is bringing the love of Christ to those around us every moment of our lives.”

The bishop said it is interesting to note that the Church celebrates John’s birthday when the light begins to gradually wane over the summer, and we celebrate Christ’s birth six months later when the light begins its ascent in the sky.

“We must tell the world another light is beginning to dawn,” he said of the work of Christians. “Our light takes second place to the light that is Christ. Our ministry is to point to Jesus.”

Bishop Caggiano was joined in the celebration of Mass by priest and deacon leaders who serve at the Catholic Center.

The Catholic Center is located at 238 Jewett Avenue in Bridgeport. It houses the bishop’s office and the many programs and ministries sponsored by the diocese.

BRIDGEPORT– “The profound challenge Christ leaves us is the understanding that we cannot develop a divine friendship with Jesus If we don’t do the same thing with the sisters and brothers around us,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his online Mass for the Sixth Sunday after Easter.

“Friendship is a lifetime project, a life of self-sacrifice and self-gift,” he said, adding that we are sustained in that challenge “by the gift of his death on the cross and the Eucharist.”

After reading the Gospel of John 15: 9-17 “13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” the bishop began his homily with a simple question, “What does it mean to be a friend?”

He said the answer may seem obvious, “but as in all things related to faith, the obvious answer isn’t the complete one… The Lord gives us a definition of friendship that is quite more challenging.”

Bishop Caggiano said when he recently visited 8th grade classes in diocesan schools, he was impressed by the answers the students gave to his question about friendship. The students told him that friends are people you can trust, people who are supportive and accepting, and people who show kindness.

The bishop said Christ set the model of true friendship in his willingness to forgive the disciples for their many faults, while also seeing their potential.

“Christ knew their brokenness, sins, their future betrayal, and yet he gave all to them, and he laid down his life for them– a friend to the end.”

The Bishop that Christ who is our savior, redeemer and Lord, is also a divine friend who walks alongside of us every moment of the day in our laughter and sorrow, doubts and confusion.

“And like any true friend, the Lord does not want us to lead a mediocre life, because our destiny is greater than that,” the bishop said, “and he helps us by giving his body and blood in the Eucharist and by the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The bishop said friendship is a true gift that opens us to an intimacy that we could not readily share with every person we meet. It is both a “sturdy shelter” and a responsibility.

“If we have a friend and we are afraid to tell the truth to that friend, is it really friendship? If we see a friend entering into destructive behavior and hold our tongue, is that a true friendship? If we socialize together and have lots of laughs and a friend starts to struggle and we begin to distance ourselves, is that true friendship?”

Perhaps friendship as the world understands it lacks the depth of what Christ challenges us to do, the bishop said. “Friendship is a gift that allows us to walk through life with a true companion, so that we may be faithful to our divine friend to the end.”

The bishop concluded his homily by asking us to consider the relationships we have with others and explore how they can be deepened and how they can grow, so that we might do what the Lord asks us to do: “In a broken, harsh, angry and divided world, the simple solution to all that the world is looking for is friendship.”

Before giving the final blessing Bishop Caggiano wished “all mothers, grandmothers, God mothers and foster mothers, a blessed happy and joyful Mother Day–a day well deserved.”

He also announced that in keeping with the Holy Father’s request that people throughout the world pray the Rosary to ask for the end of the pandemic and for the Blessed Mother’s protection and intercession, the diocese will join in the international effort at noon each day. To participate visit the Leadership Institute: https://formationreimagined.org/rosary-for-may-2021/

BRIDGEPORT– Doubt and fear are part of our fallen human condition, but obstacles to faith can be overcome by “readying our hearts” to receive the Divine Mercy that is there for the asking, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter.

In his weekly online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel, the bishop reflected on the Gospel of John (20: 19-31), when Jesus speaks to Thomas in the upper room. “Jesus said to him, ‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’”

The bishop explained that the possibility Jesus would have risen in bodily form would have been difficult for the apostles to believe unless they saw it with their own eyes. Yet, “doubting” Thomas teaches us an important lesson about faith.

Because Thomas was not with the other apostles the first time Jesus appeared to them in the upper room, he wanted proof. But in a moment of faith he no longer needed to touch the wounds of the Risen Lord because he saw him through the eyes of faith.

“What does it mean to see the Lord?” the bishop asked.

He said the apostles had the privilege of seeing Jesus with their own eyes, but we are challenged to see the Lord in a different way, “through clarifying our vision and keeping our minds focused without distractions that can create doubt.”

The Bishop said he wonders what Thomas did in the week between the first and second appearance of Jesus.

“How much did his heart burn to see the Lord? Did he spend the time taking out the distractions and worldly presumptions, so that he was ready to see the Lord when he came?”

Likewise, we are challenged to ready ourselves by focusing on the Lord and his teaching, “and we will see him, and doubt less the more we see him,” he said.

The second obstacle to faith discussed in the gospel is fear. The bishop noted that even after being moved to joy by the Lord’s first appearance to them, the apostles remained locked in the upper room a week later because they were still afraid.

“They came to faith, but it did not move them to action,” the bishop said of their reaction to the first appearance. “The apostles didn’t yet have the power of Holy Spirit that came to them at Pentecost, so that they could do what they might not normally do with their own talent.”

Like the apostles in the upper room, we often lock the doors out of fear, rather than reaching out, reconciling, challenging or addressing a difficult situation, the bishop said. “We’re afraid “to write that letter, make that phone call, or confront someone we love with the truth.”

“The apostles unlocked the door when the Spirit finally came to them in Pentecost,” he said, adding that the same “Spirit is dwelling in our hearts. When fears make the best of us, we can ask for the grace to overcome them with His power, not with our power.”

“Today is Divine Mercy Sunday when we remember that from the side of the Lord flowed the blood and water, the sacrament of our regeneration and baptism, and the celestial food in our journey to heaven. How merciful to extend this bridge to eternal life, forgive our sins and give us the path to freedom.”

The bishop concluded by saying, “Along the way in that journey there will be times we will doubt like Thomas and be fearful like the rest of the apostles, but do not fear because God’s mercy is there to help us and see us through.”

After Mass bishop thanked all those who joined him for the online Mass and wished all a “continuing blessed, happy and joyful Easter, a 50-day celebration of the great gift which is the Risen Lord in our midst.”

The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 am and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist. You are invited to join Bishop Caggiano for the Sunday Family Rosary every Sunday at 7:30 pm visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/

This is Lidio da Silva. He and his wife, Marie, have three children, including one-year-old twins. The da Silva family are farmers who grow maize and beans in Timor Leste, which has the highest rate of child malnutrition in Asia. The lack of dietary diversity is one of the causes of this. To fight malnutrition, Catholic Relief Services offers a nutrition program in the country. Like any parent, Lidio and Marie want their children to have a healthy start to life. After attending the program, they changed what they eat as a family. In addition to eating what they grow, they now buy meat and fish once a month. When they have a little extra money, they purchase carrots, eggs, cassava, and pumpkin leaf from the market.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.

BRIDGEPORT — Bishop Frank J. Caggiano launched a diocesan-wide renewal Friday as he consecrated the Diocese of Bridgeport to the protection and intercession of St. Joseph, the Patron of the Universal Church, during this Year of St. Joseph proclaimed by Pope Francis.

The Bishop celebrated a Pontifical Mass on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, at St. Augustine’s Cathedral while pastors throughout the diocese simultaneously celebrated Mass, linking the diocese together in prayer and purpose.

Describing St. Joseph as a husband, father and saint who exemplified the saying, “Actions speak louder than words,” Bishop Caggiano said, “You and I come here, my friends, not simply to ask for his help, not simply to seek his protection, but to follow his example.”

Calling the faithful to action, during his homily, he said: “My friends, no more words. We have had enough of the words. They have filled libraries. It is time for action, isn’t it? In this singular moment in the life of the Church, in this singular moment in the life of our world, now is the time we turn to Joseph to ask him to protect us, to guide us, to defend us, to inspire us to a mission that no longer needs words but faithful, humble, obedient action, for it is in our deeds that the world will see what Joseph saw. It is in our actions that the Lord will glimpse he who Joseph is carrying with his arms outstretched as a child, ready to stretch out his arms on the cross so that the love that he bore for us will set us free.”

The Mass culminated a week-long Novena to St. Joseph, calling upon him to intercede for the diocese during this year of celebration, proclaimed by Pope Francis in observance of the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph being named Patron of the Universal Church by Blessed Pius IX. The pope also issued an Apostolic Letter titled “Patris Corde,” (“With a Father’s Heart”) in order “to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal.”

The Mass launched a call to renewal that Bishop Caggiano announced in his pastoral exhortation, “Let Us Enter the Upper Room With the Lord,” issued on Ash Wednesday, which called for a personal and communal renewal of faith.

In his apostolic letter, Pope Francis describe Joseph as “a hidden presence” and “a man in the shadows.” Similarly, Bishop Caggiano observed, “Today we honor a man who has no directly recorded words in all of Sacred Scripture, and yet we come here to honor him as patron and guardian, defender and protector. Of all the members of the human race — second only to the Mother of God — to this man, this simple carpenter, was given a great mission: to protect and guard the Savior and Redeemer of all things and his Sacred Virgin Mother.”

Joseph accomplished the great mission he was given through the obedience that characterized his life and the humility that was the foundation of his spiritual relationship with God.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

“Joseph went about this great mission, going where he would not have chosen to go, in exile into Egypt, leaving family, occupation and language behind,” Bishop Caggiano said. “He did what the Lord asked — to take on his betrothed wife conceived of a child that was not his but he did it in obedience for he knew in his humility, it was not for him to understand God’s design. It was simply to say ‘yes.’”

Joseph was given the great gift of an intimate, personal and loving relationship with God, whom he was given to protect. This was the “wellspring of his power,” the bishop said.

The faithful of the diocese have also been given a great mission on the day of their Baptism, he said.

“Did you and I not also receive this great task to be the protector and defender of the Lord’s presence in the world?” he said. “That faith that binds us as a family, for each time you and I are out in the world, caring for the sick, the poor and the homeless, when you did it for the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it for me.”

The mission of renewal that the diocese embarks upon is a “grave one,” he said. “You and I follow in the footsteps of the carpenter. We are given the mission to be the guardians of the Truth, who is the person of Jesus alive in our midst, here in this Mystical Body.”

Echoing the theme of his pastoral exhortation, Bishop Caggiano said that just as Joseph found power in his intimate relationship with God, we must do the same.

“For that reason my friends, I have invited you into that Upper Room to sit with the Lord, his foster son and our God,” Bishop Caggiano said. “To come to look into his face and his eyes, to see his tears in the faces of those around us, to learn to hear his voice in our hearts and spirits, to recognize how God is with us in communion and to receive his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity here as the foretaste of everlasting life. You and I will fail in our mission if we do not in equal way come to an intimate love and relationship with Christ.”

Even though there are no directly recorded words in Sacred Scripture attributed to St. Joseph, Bishop Caggiano said: “We know he spoke at least one, for in the passage we heard in the dream Joseph received, four verses later there is a simple sentence inspired by the Holy Spirit through St. Matthew, who writes, ‘He, Joseph, named him Jesus.’ For we know this man at least uttered one word. And that word is ‘Jesus.’ And that was enough for Joseph. Can we dare hope that it is enough for you and me?”

Following his homily, the bishop consecrated the Diocese of Bridgeport to St. Joseph, calling upon his intercession for the renewal.

While the pandemic has given new urgency to the bishop’s call, it is a theme he has sounded from day one: “When I first came to the diocese, in my installation homily, I spoke about my deep desire to build bridges to those who were seeking meaning and direction in
life. It seems to me that the time has come when we are all called to be bridge-builders to the people around us, leading them to Christ, for whom we serve as his ambassadors.”

The Synod discernment paved the way for renewal by building the foundation that will assist the diocese and its parishes in the work of recovery and revitalization.

While liturgies and other activities are planned for the year, the bishop made it clear that the call to the Upper Room is not a program, but an invitation to join him on “a spiritual journey, seeking the Lord’s grace to transform this time of suffering into a springtime of renewal for the life of the Church.”

Because of the uncertainty of the pandemic, he envisions the first part of the year as a time of prayer and intense spiritual preparation that will lead to more in-person missionary outreach in the fall—an active going out into the community by “ambassadors” to welcome all back and invite others in for the first time.

Bishop Caggiano believes there is a role for everyone because the renewal is based on personal prayer, reconciliation with Christ and reception of the Holy Eucharist—all within our grasp as members of his Church who believe faith can transform our lives and change the world.

By Joe Pisani

BRIDGEPORT— “Our God is an unexpected God, a God of surprises whose work and grace influence us in unexpected ways,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his online Mass for “Laetare” Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Lent.

The bishop it’s an understanding we should “take to heart on this Sunday of Joy, the fourth Sunday in Lent,” when we consider the challenge of missionary discipleship in a world that may seem indifferent to faith.

In his homily Bishop Caggiano focused on the 1st Reading from 2 Chronicles (36:14-16, 19-23) in which Cyrus, King of Persia, surprised the Jewish people by allowing them to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem years after it had been sacked and burned.

The bishop began by noting that we may all at one time or another be pleasantly surprised when a person has who formerly thought little of us, perhaps even refused to speak with us, unexpectedly offers a compliment that makes us feel better about ourselves and gives hope for a new beginning in the relationship.

The people of Israel may have had a similar feeling when King Cyrus permitted them to rebuild the temple, he said.

“There would have been precious little that would have prepared God’s chosen people for the unexpected reaction of Cyrus,” he said.

“The Lord had moved the heart of the ruler of a pagan nation who had no knowledge of Jewish law and no reasons to allow them to rebuild the temple, “ since they represented only a small fraction of his earthly empire, he said.

Yet the prayers of the Jewish people were unexpectedly answered by a king who allowed their temple to be rebuilt.

“Our God is a God of unexpected turns,” he said, “But what does it mean for you and me on this Fourth Sunday in Lent?

The story of Cyrus should give us courage and strength to go out in fidelity and bear witness to our faith, “when it’s easy and when it’s not, with those who receive you and those who do not.”

He said as Catholics “we have a tendency to constrict missionary discipleship to what is comfortable and familiar” where our faith is affirmed.

However, the story of Cyrus challenges us to plant the seeds of faith “anywhere and everywhere we go because we don’t know how God moves a human heart.”

“We should not be discouraged when we do not initially see the fruits of our labor ,” he said. Rather we should continue to plant the seeds of charity, fidelity and mercy in all those we encounter, even if they don’t seem to bear fruit.

“For those who take missionary discipleship seriously, How do you measure success? he asked.

The bishop said there was a time of bustling growth when the success of the Church was measured by the all of the new parishes founded, the number of people at Mass, and the many programs sponsored.

“We live in a different time now, don’t we. There are heartaches for you and me when we see relatives and friends, nephews, nieces and grandchildren who have fallen away from the practice of faith… We try to bring them back but don’t see those seeds bear fruit.”

The bishop said the story of Cyrus gives us a reasons to take a step back, gain perspective and find encouragement that the seeds of faith won’t be stillborn.

“Grace works in unexpected ways,” he said, suggesting that we cannot measure the success of the spiritual life by “that which occurs outside of us,” but rather, we should persevere in fidelity to what the Lord asks of us.

In our contemporary lives, it is important to give witness to the truth of Jesus and to encounter friends and family, neighbors and enemies alike and not be discouraged if they don’t initially respond.

“There will be a time and place of the Lord’s choosing,” the bishop said.

“If the Lord could move the heart of Cyrus to rebuild his temple, is is there any human heart at the end that the Lord cannot move?”

Following the final blessing the bishop urged all to join him and others throughout the diocese in the nine-day Novena of St. Joseph offered each evening through the diocesan website at 7 p.m. The novena will conclude on Friday, March 19 when the bishop consecrates the Diocese to St. Joseph in a special live-streamed, 7 p.m. Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral. The live-stream will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the bishop leading the Rosary.

The bishop also took the time to wish all a Happy St. Patrick’s Day this week. He said St. Patrick was a man of great faith “who showed us the unexpected ways that God works in our lives.”

The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 am and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist. You are invited to join Bishop Caggiano for the Sunday Family Rosary every Sunday at 7:30 pm visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/

I remember waking up on April 25, 2015, to the news that the people of Nepal were hit with a devastating earthquake. I immediately prayed for them and for their recovery.
 
For the last five years, Catholic Relief Services has been helping those people recover. One thing you might find surprising, at least I did, was that CRS has helped to restore over 6 miles of trails around Manaslu mountain, a very popular tourist site. When the earthquake destroyed its trails, tourists stopped visiting and it disconnected villages that used the trails to connect – hurting the local economy. With the trails restored, tourists can return to Manaslu. Even better, it’s made travel easier for people who live along the path to connect with economic opportunities, helping this remote location to thrive.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.

BRIDGEPORT— At a time of growing anxiety in the face of the pandemic and social change, we can find strength and peace in the teachings of Jesus, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his online Mass for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In his homily the bishop reflected on readings from First Corinthians (7:32-25), “I should like you to be free of anxieties,” and the impact of Jesus’s teachings in Capernaum ( Mark 1:21-28, ), “The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority.”

“I should like you to be free of anxieties– How often have those words come to our lips” said the bishop, noting that we often seek to console friends and family members during times of stress and uncertainty.

He urged the faithful to accompany others during the pandemic, so they do not face their sufferings and fears alone.

Our anxieties can divert our attention from that which can bring us greater peace each day when we understand that “all manner of things will be well when we find the one who teaches with authority,” he said.

The bishop began his homily by noting that he and his nephew recently watched a Netflix docudrama called “The Social Dilemma,” which focused on the way social media is manipulating human life, particularly among the young who are dependent and even addicted to it, leading to anxiety in their lives.

The bishop said we all seem to struggle with anxiety at one time or another. However, in this time of Covid-19, many people are experiencing a crippling anxiety that is affecting their daily life and “becoming a burden too heavy to carry.”

“The Christian obligation is to care for those who are struggling with any form of mental illness, even compulsive, burdening anxiety,” he said, adding that people should seek professional help if necessary and not be held back by the stigma of mental illness.

The Gospel of Mark offers a clue to help us deal with the normal anxieties of life along with our deeper and abiding worries, he said. “The clue comes from St. Mark’s depiction of Jesus as one who taught with authority,”

‘What does that mean?. Knowledge can come from reason, experience or intuition—the deep and abiding awareness one has that what is before them is more than meets the eye,” he said.

The bishop said that the people of Capernaum had that intuition when they heard Jesus speak. They understood and believed that Jesus taught with authority, and that when he spoke, they heard the fullness of truth.

“That intuition in the rough and tumble of our lives struggling with normal anxieties is the need to go back and do what the people of Capernaum did—sit before the Lord and listen to that intuition in our hearts that he speaks with authority.”

The bishop said there are no questions that Jesus can’t t answer or wounds he cannot heal “because he walks with us in lightness and in darkness, and he has shed his blood so that our mistakes might be forgiven,… and we might not be enchained by sin but find new life.”

The bishop said our mission is to be messengers who can lead others to the one who speaks with authority and can heal them.

“Let us find the strength to sit at his feet and allow him to lead us ever more, step by step, day by day, into the peace he promises to all who follow him.”

Following Mass the bishop said he continued to pray for the people of the diocese and he invited all to join him in the weekly family Rosary, saying that “there is no better way to sit at the feet of the Lord and allow the Lord’s peace to take root in our heart.”

You are also invited to join Bishop Caggiano for the Sunday Family Rosary every Sunday at 7:30 p.m. visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/
The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

BRIDGEPORT— At a time of division in society and within the Church, “true unity is not making peace with ourselves, but making peace with Him,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Reflecting on the Gospel of Mark (1:14-20 ) when Jesus invites the apostles Simon, Andrew, James and John to follow him, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men,” the bishop said that Jesus extends the same call to us “in the singular moment we are living as Americans and believers in Him.”

“The Lord invites us to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to help us get beyond what divides us,” he said, emphasizing that our shared faith in Jesus “gives us a greater purpose so our differences don’t matter anymore.”

The bishop said that the faithful can overcome its divisions and work toward unity and a common mission not simply by thinking that we can solve all of our own problems, but “by fixing our eyes on Him who is the truth, the way and the life.”

He began his homily by recalling that a few years ago when he led the diocesan pilgrimage to Washington D.C. for the dedication of a prayer garden alongside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, he found time to visit the Vietnam War Memorial.

Noting that the wall of black granite adorned with names of those who died serving the country was “beautiful to behold in itself,” the bishop said it was important to look behind the names to the lives that were lost.

“Each time I gaze on the names, I remind myself that behind every name is a person’s face, life, and history that needs to be remembered and honored. The name is a pathway to glimpse the beauty of each individual who is memorialized there.”

Likewise, as Jesus begins his ministry, we are introduced to the apostles by name, but we are also invited to be drawn into the story of their faith.

Describing the apostles as an unlikely group that was beset by differences, bickering, and lack of understanding of what Jesus was saying, the bishop said we may wonder why Jesus selected them.

“He loved them for who they were and who they could become,” said the bishop, adding that we should be encouraged by “the inexplicable fact that the bickering, envy, jealousy, and disunity ended in the Upper Room when the ragtime group of men accepted the Holy Spirit in their heart.”

He said that by “fixing their eyes on Jesus after first recognizing their own sinfulness, they allowed the Spirit to touch them with power and grace… They found true unity and began to imagine what men that they could become.”

Noting that there is presently much division in the Church between liberal and conservative voices, the bishop said that we are in need of reconciliation much like the apostles.

“Enough is enough, the Pentecost has come,” he said, adding that we often end up fighting over things that divide us superficially rather than deepen our lives in Christ’s as His modern day disciples.

He said the Lord loves us for who we are, but like the apostles, we can’t move forward without the admission of our own sinfulness and acceptance of His forgiveness in our lives.

“This is our singular moment, the time the Lord in the upper room is whispering to us, ‘I will lead you to what you desire. Will you come after me, follow me, become fishers of women and men?’”

The bishop said that when we have gone from this life, many may remember our names, but the lives we live behind the names are what matters, particularly if we unite in His love.

“Let us use this moment to go beyond the names of the Apostles to discover them for the true men and saints they became, and let us have the courage to follow their example, so we might heal divisions in our own Church, the division in our world and the divisions in our hearts—yours and mine.”

Before final blessing the bishop said he prayed for all families of the diocese that they remain safe and healthy, and he also asked for prayers for him and diocesan leaders during this difficult time. “Without the grace of the Holy Spirit we can’t find our way forward. With him there is no challenge we cannot meet.”

The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

You are also invited to join Bishop Caggiano for the Sunday Family Rosary every Sunday at 7:30 p.m. visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/

The dedication of teachers during this pandemic never ceases to amaze me. Take Margarita Nicolasa Sulugüí, a 4th-grade teacher from Guatemala, for example. I found out about her from Catholic Relief Services, which helps train teachers in her area.

When the pandemic made its way to her community, she decided to start visiting her students at home. Wearing a mask and carrying hand sanitizer, she visits 4 – 5 students per day, spending extra time with those who need additional help. Margarita gives her lessons in an open space – usually outside on a patio, on rocks, or under shady trees. After the visits, she makes herself available by phone for the parents who have questions about the homework. In the words of the parents, “Her visits are very good because we feel supported, we’re happy, we’re not alone.”

Let’s make sure we thank all of our teachers who are doing their best during this very difficult time. My special thanks to the teachers of our Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport!

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.

There are few words that can describe the shock I feel to see our Capitol Building occupied by violent and unlawful rioters earlier today. As Americans, we should be deeply disturbed to see such an important symbol of freedom and liberty in our nation violated in such a way. Our nation is better than such behavior.

The peaceful transfer of power is one of the most important and revered aspects of our democracy. We must recommit ourselves to the values we hold dear as Americans: democracy, freedom, and peace. As people of faith we condemn violence in all its forms as a moral betrayal of the Gospel. We also know that our nation needs prayer, now more than ever, so that we may always remain one nation, under God.

In that spirit, please join me tonight in praying for the United States during this unprecedented and frightening time in our history. Let us pray for peace in our communities, in our capital, in our Country, but most of all, in our own hearts.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.

As I begin my seventh day of quarantine, I am grateful to the Lord that I have not developed any symptoms associated with the coronavirus. Unfortunately, a number of dear friends have recently contacted me by text or email and told me that they have received both a positive test result and also begun to experience some severe side effects from the virus. My heart goes out to them and their families. Let us continue to keep everyone who has been afflicted by this terrible disease in our prayers.

Given the fact that many who have recently contracted the Coronavirus fell ill through small gatherings that they attended at Christmastime, I urge everyone to remain vigilant in doing all that we can to protect ourselves and our families against this terrible disease. I recognize that we are all weary of what has become our ”new” way of life: wearing masks, socially distancing and frequently washing our hands. However, in those settings when we do not follow these protocols, precisely in small gatherings with family and friends, is when many have fallen ill. We need to persevere until the tide turns and this terrible disease is vanquished from our midst.

Please be assured of my daily prayers for all of you, your family and friends.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.

My dear friends, I am so deeply grateful for all the emails and texts you have sent me offering prayers as I begin my quarantine. I deeply appreciate your kindness and support. Thankfully, I remain asymptomatic which is very encouraging.

For those who join me for the electronic celebration of Mass, I am sorry that I will be unable to offer Mass until my quarantine is over. However, be assured of a remembrance in my own prayers as I celebrate Eucharist in private for the next ten days.

Finally, let us continue to pray for everyone who has been affected by the scourge of this pandemic in any way, especially those who are sick and our health care workers who care for them. May the Lord grant the sick a full and complete recovery and continued protection and well-being for all our health care workers.

Best wishes for a Blessed, Joyful, and Healthy New Year to you and your families.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.

BRIDGEPORT—“On this the last Sunday of Advent, Our Lady figures prominently as we stand on the threshold of Christmas,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his weekly online Mass from the Catholic Center.

“It’s her fiat, her “Yes” that begins this offer, this drama, this sacred message of salvation in the son she bore into the world,” he said in his homily at Mass for the 4th Sunday of Advent.

The Bishop said the Blessed mother’s obedience and willingness to do the will of God is an example of how to avoid the destructive entanglement of sin “that prevents us from doing what He asks us and mires us in paths that are destructive and worse.”

After reading Luke’s account of the Annunciation ( 1:26-38) when Mary is visited by the Angel Gabriel (“Behold, you will bear a son and you shall name him Jesus”), the bishop said the Blessed Mother gave us a new beginning and a path to salvation.

The bishop began his homily by noting that as a young boy he often struggled to untie the knots in his shoes– an effort that usually required his mother’s help in order to get him out of the house and off to school on time.

“I did know how to tie my shoes, but I usually couldn’t find where the knot was. To this day, I’m not sure why it was such a problem,” he said recalling his mother’s help and patience.

“Now I stand nearly 62 years of age at a time in my life that I still have a problem with knots–and perhaps you do too. Not knots made with shoe laces, but the knots you and I create by your sins and mine– knots that create entanglements that prevent us from being where we were meant to be in Christ.”

The bishop said that as we prepare for Christmas the example of the Blessed Mother can help us untie the knots that make us unhappy and separate us from God.

“The Blessed Mother is considered the new Eve, the un-tier of knots that our first earthy parents created, which entangled all of our lives,” he said.

He said that the word “obedience” describes the Blessed Mother’s reaction to God’s call, but it is also a word that has fallen out of favor in contemporary society.

Today, obedience has become a negative word for people who think “My life is all about me and what I want, and my desires,” he said.

He said Mary was a woman who had planned to consecrate her life but had no hesitation when she was called to a radically different task by God– one that could have led to her being shunned and ostracized as an unwed, pregnant woman.

However, she responded without hesitation because she knew how “to listen with open heart to God’s will and to do it.”

The Blessed Mother lived “her life in the holiness of grace, even when it took her to a place that was unforeseen, a place that was uncomfortable and a place that was unacceptable,” he said.

Likewise, we must learn to listen to God and not get entangled in our own plans and wants.

“We’re not ourselves when we do it our way—not God’s way; when we seek pleasure instead of purpose, when we’re self-promoting rather than neighbor promoting… when we live life in a way we choose and not the way the Virgin Mary’s son has taught us.”

“My earthly mother helped me untie my earthly shoes, and my Heavenly Mother helps us from falling into the sins that can entangle us,” he said. “She reminds us as a good mother, that if want to talk through life, get on with the journey and not fall on our face, we have to avoid knots and move on.”

The bishop concluded his homily by saying that he continues to wear a scapula that his mother gave him years ago, and sometimes in the morning it gets tangled with chain that holds the Cross he wears as a bishop.

He said that when he stands before the bathroom mirror trying to untangle them, he sometimes finds himself chuckling when he understands that both his “earthly mother and spiritual mother are teaching me the basic lesson of life– that it’s far easier to live without knots.”

At the end of Mass, the Bishop invited all those who will be unable to attend Christmas Mass in person to join him in the online Mass on Christmas day. “I look forward to praying with you through this electronic format for this most wonderful and joyful day of the coming into the world of the Savior and Redeemer,” he said.

The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

For information on the Sunday Family Rosary every Sunday at 7:30 p.m. visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/

A few days ago, Debbie, my assistant, and I were puzzled with the arrival of a package to my office that listed no sender. Within it was an Advent wreath that had electrically powered candles- something that I had never seen before. After some thought, Debbie suggested that perhaps someone in the Catholic Center ordered it and it was sent to my office by mistake. The explanation seemed logical so I moved on to my other work.

Later that evening, I began preparations for the recording of my next podcast. Suddenly I understood the mystery of the wreath. For in my last podcast, I made mention of an incident a few years ago when I accidentally left the candles of my Advent wreath lit and only be sheer grace, having forgotten my keys, returned to my room to discover the danger. Since then, I keep my Advent wreath unlit- until the arrival of the electric wreath that was sitting in my office! A kind and generous person who listened to my podcast sent me the electric wreath, so that I could once again pray with the light of its candles in safety!

I cannot describe how moved I was when I realized this beautiful act of generosity and kindness given to me. In the face of all the challenges that have become a daily part of leadership, to know that there are persons who care enough to reach out in simple and anonymous ways, to provide support and encouragement, was one of the greatest spiritual gifts I have received in a long time. It powerfully reminded me that simple acts of kindness can revive the spirit and rekindle hope.

To whomever sent me the Advent wreath, I am praying for you, your family and your intentions each day that I light . Thank you for your kindness, generosity and support.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.