Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

In my spiritual reading, I came across the following passage written by Saint John Henry Newman which speaks eloquently of what each of us must consider if we wish to evangelize the world around us:

“He who does one little deed of obedience, whether he denies himself some comfort or forgives an enemy, evinces more true faith than could be shown by the most fluent religious conversation or the most intimate knowledge of Scripture. Yet how many are there who sit still with folded hands, dreaming, thinking they have done everything, when they merely have had these good thoughts which will save no one.”

Given all the challenges that we face, it is time to unfold our hands and commit ourselves to living our faith in action that will speak far louder than any homily, presentation, workshop or video.

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

We cannot stand silent before any form of hatred

As the nation reels from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the protests and rioting that have followed, we must once again confront the evil of systemic racism, bigotry, and discrimination in our country.

As people of faith we are outraged to see a video in which an African American man is killed before our eyes—an incident that unfortunately has become all too familiar in the past few years. Such an act calls all people of conscience to work tirelessly for justice and to seek true change, which is badly needed in the face of a recurring pattern of violence that needs to be addressed on multiple institutional levels. The death of George Floyd is the latest wake-up call that we must answer with honesty and a spirit of dialogue and genuine conversion.

As Catholics, we value and defend every human life because every person is made in the image and likeness of God. As it is stated clearly in the USCCB Pastoral Letter against Racism, Open Wide Our Hearts, “As bishops, we unequivocally state that racism is a life issue.” This means that we are obligated to fearlessly proclaim the Church’s teachings that any ideology that advocates racism and bigotry is a grave sin against the dignity of the human person and the divine mandate to love our neighbor as ourselves. To live in any way contrary to this divine command is a betrayal of the Gospel.

It is also imperative that we condemn violence in all its forms as a moral betrayal of the Gospel. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” As a nation, we must address the legitimate concerns being raised in protest and find peaceful ways to resolve them as quickly as we can.

Time and again, we are confronted with the sobering reality that although we have made significant strides in this country towards equality, that there are still significant societal structures that perpetuate racism. These structures must be reformed before any lasting healing and progress can occur.

The Truth of Jesus Christ has no room for racism, no tolerance for bigotry, and no place for hatred. You and I must courageously challenge people who perpetuate such hateful ideas. We must work to reform the structures that continue to repress our brothers and sisters. We must build bridges of mutual respect and trust in our society, so that we can move forward together as one family in Christ.

We cannot stand silent before any form of hatred, because to remain silent is to condone it.

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

Our Common Moral Obligation to Protect Human Life

As our Diocese continues its second phase planning to reopen our church buildings for the public celebration of Mass, it may be helpful to recall the prime reason why the Diocese mandated that such public celebrations be temporarily suspended. Given all the misinformation that exists in the media, we must never forget that the decision was rooted in a commitment to remain faithful to a central tenet of our Catholic faith.

The grave reason that motivated the suspension of public Mass was our commitment to the central Catholic belief in the sanctity of every human life and our common moral obligation to protect human life. When it became clear that the passing of the COVID-19 virus often occurs by asymptomatic persons sharing regular human contact, time was needed to understand how such infections occur, the best ways to avoid passing the contagion, all the while maintaining as much of the public practice of the faith as was prudent and still protecting human life- especially the elderly and sick in our midst. In the last eight weeks, we have made much progress in this regard, allowing us to begin the resumption of public worship in a prudent and gradual manner.

More specifically, the decision was never based on any debate about whether our Catholic faith and its practice is “essential”. For anyone who believes, this issue is not debatable. The practice of our faith is at the heart of who we are. The Eucharist sustains our daily life and temporarily to suspend its public celebration could only be justified by a grave, moral cause. Recognizing the great pain that was caused by the suspension, our churches have remained open for private prayer, Eucharistic adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance. To be clear, the practice of our Catholic faith is essential and necessary for our personal salvation as revealed by our Savior and Redeemer.

The good news is that the celebration of public Mass has begun in our Diocese outdoors, in a manner that every health official considers the safest venue in which to congregate, following social distancing rules. While this is a first step forward, we are all anxious to be able to resume the public celebration of Masses in our churches as well. To this end, we will soon make a public announcement about how and when we can reopen our church buildings

I am grateful for your patience, prayers, and understanding during these difficult months. I very much understand and appreciate the great sorrow and loss felt by many. However, my friends, let us remember that our common sacrifice had one prime motive: to follow the mandate of the Lord of Life to protect, defend, and keep safe every human life.

For if we failed to protect human life during this pandemic, how can we ever hope to convert our society to end the culture of death and to recognize and protect every human life?

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

Bearing Witness to Christ

BRIDGEPORT— The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord is the “beginning of a great commissioning to continue his work” on earth, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his homily for Ascension Thursday.

“Our work today is precisely to become a witness to him… and to bear witness to his risen life,” the bishop during the Mass, which was live-streamed from the Catholic Center chapel.

He began his homily recalling a moment when he was called to give testimony in a civil legal proceeding and admitted that he was nervous on the way to the courthouse. However, once he completed the oath with the words, “I do,” he remembered feeling relieved.

“Saying , “I do,” make me a sworn witness to the truth, and I had every intention of telling the truth,” he said, noting at as followers of Jesus, Catholics face the same challenge today.

“What does it mean to be a witness to Jesus leads us us into difficult task. For example, to witness Christ is to witness the truth, never mincing our words in proclaiming what is right and just,” he said.

After reading the Gospel of Matthew (28: 16-20), “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” the bishop said we face the same responsibility as the disciples.

“The Ascension reminds of us the task before us and that we are all sinners. How many times by the decisions we’ve made have we stopped to do good in the name of Jesus? And how many time have we lost opportunities to be forgiving, kind, patient or loving—times we failed to say, “I do” to Jesus.”

The bishop said we may be held back by doubts or ambiguous, unnamed attitudes that haunt our hearts and minds,” yet influence what we say and do.”

He urged the faithful to be up to the task of looking in the mirror and “routing these attitudes out if they are not of Christ.”

The bishop said that it is easy for people to become distracted, mesmerized or unaware, but like the disciples, people must be ready to do the work of sharing the good news of Christ.

“In this age in which we live many of us are easily distracted with our ordinary duties and responsibilities. We create a routine where we forget this commission to bear witness to his truth and life.”

Immediately following Mass, the bishop said that he has been praying for the health and well being of all families in the diocese and asked that the faithful also pray for him. He also invited all to join him in the online Rosary being said each evening at 7:30 pm throughout the month of May.

(To find the link to join the online Rosary, please visit www.formationreimagined.org/rosary-for-hope-and-healing. No computer? No problem. If you want to join by phone, call 646.558.8656 or 301.715.8592 and enter this ID number when prompted: 840 8707 1375)

Self-Giving Leads to an Untroubled Heart

BRIDGPEORT—“How do we un-trouble our hearts?” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano asked in his homily for the Fifth Sunday of Easter.

In the live-streamed Mass from the Catholic Center chapel Bishop Caggiano reflected on the Gospel of John (14: 1-2) in which Jesus comforts his disciples who are confused and uncertain. Thomas asks him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”

Confessing that he is a “worrier,” the Bishop began his homily by nothing that the fear and uncertainty resulting from the pandemic have “caused many of us to have a troubled heart.”

“It is fair to say that given the terrible circumstances we are living, we are worried about the unknown, worried about employment and where the money will come from, worried about our health and our loved ones, worried about the elderly we love so dearly, and worried what the new normal will be.”

The Bishop said that even with the best of intentions we tend to get caught up in our own worries. We try to control things and have them our own way, but that only leads to more anxiety.

The Bishop said that the answer to soothing an un-troubled heart “is staring us right in the face.”

“Jesus says, I am the way, I am the path, I am the one who loves you more than you love yourself. I’m the one who has the answers. I can see the end of the journey while you cannot.

Jesus set the example, the Bishop said. “He did not occupy himself with his own desires and plans… It was all about trusting in the father.”

Emptying ourselves of our own concerns and being of service to others is a way to escape our own worries and do the will of the Lord, the Bishop said.

“The gospel encourages us to get out of ourselves. Jesus ‘s way was not to spend time on what I want, but what my neighbor needs. His entire ministry was directed to those around him,” the Bishop said, adding that he walked among the people and shared their lives.

“I would like to suggest that in times when we are consumed, when we are worried or anxious, the answer is to imitate Our Lord. To look into the faces of those around us, and busy ourselves with their needs and concerns.”

Jesus invites us to look into the faces of the people who share our lives, he said.

“Let’s ’s look at them right now and see in them the invitation of Christ, to give ourselves to them, and perhaps that’s the way to have an un-troubled heart.”

To join in the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, live-streamed weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.

Blessed Mother Brings Hope

BRIDGEPORT— “In this difficult time we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace, to ask that she intercede with her Son for all those who are affected in any way by this pandemic,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said on Friday as he began the Renewal of Consecration of the United States to Mary, Mother of the Church.

The bishop led the 20-minute prayer service, which was live-streamed from St. Augustine Cathedral at the same time that more than 195 dioceses also live-streamed the re-consecration service to the faithful across the country in an act of unity and prayer.

“As we renew the consecration of our country and of ourselves to the Mother of the God, we implore her maternal care for her children,” the bishop said to begin the service which included a Gospel reading and a brief homily.

The bishop began his homily by asking, “If April brings showers, what does May bring beside flowers?”

“The answer to that question is why we are here,” he said. ‘If showers bring flowers, then May brings hope to all of us, that fragile theological virtue and gift in this part of Spring where the final vestiges of Winter’s end and cold are replaced with a warmth that fills our minds and hearts with hope.”

“Flowers are not enough, so we come here to the house of our Father to turn to the one woman who is the perfect patron saint of hope,” said the bishop noting that “the beauty of flowers are only a small reminder of the beauty of creation and the far greater beauty of re-creation that awaits when we are brought into the presence of the Lord.”

“We come here to re-consecrate this great nation to Our Lady, to set ourselves aside, to strive for sacred life following her example but pleading for her intercession. She is a messenger of hope in a world that is suffering greatly. She is our protector as any good mother is. She will always be beside us.”

“In the time in which we are living, there is not a person among us who does not want to be reassured in hope,” he said.

Reflecting on the Gospel of John (19: 25-27) in which Jesus speaks to Mary at the foot of the Cross, the bishop said that the Blessed Mother is the great gift given to the entire Church by Jesus.

“If ever the world needs the promise of this month and the Lady we honor, it needs it now more than ever.”

After his homily the bishop asked those viewing the live-stream to join him in the fifth sorrowful mystery of the Rosary, the crucifixion and death of Our Lord.

He then led the Prayer of Renewal, which begins: “Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, you are the fairest fruit of God’s redeeming love; you sing of the Father’s mercy and accompany us with a mother’s love. In this time of pandemic we come to you, our sign of sure hope and comfort. Today we renew the act of consecration and entrustment carried out by those who have gone before us.”

The prayer asks God’s blessings on all those who have died, those who are suffering and the many caregivers who are serving the sick.

Every year, the Church seeks the special intercession of the Mother of God during the month of May. This year, Archbishop José Gomez, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urged dioceses across the national to seek the assistance of Our Lady during the global pandemic.

In 1792, the first bishop of the United States, Bishop John Carroll, consecrated the nation to Mary under the title Immaculate Conception, and in 1846, the bishops unanimously chose Mary under that title as the patroness of the nation.

Jesus will walk with us

BRIDGEPORT—Reflecting on Luke’s account of Jesus appearing to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus, Bishop Caggiano said there are times in our lives when we’re lost, but the Lord will come and walk with us.

“You and I can understand at this very moment what the disciples were going through… being lost, and going nowhere without a clue about what tomorrow will bring. Our hearts are filled with anxiety, fear and doubt.”

In the Mass for the Third Sunday in Easter, live-streamed from the grotto-like Catholic Center chapel, the bishop said that Jesus walks with his people “through the sharing of scripture and the breaking of bread,” and shows them the way back when they are walking in the wrong direction.

He said that a visit to the Holy Land gave him a greater insight into the Gospel, when he learned that Emmaus means “nowhere,” and that scripture scholars are not certain of where the biblical Emmaus was.

In the Gospel, Jesus finds his two disciples disheartened and frightened after his crucifixion, and he simply accompanies them, though they do not recognize him.

However, in the encounter, “He turned them around, and allowed them to find place and mission,” the bishop said, urging people to pour out their hearts to Jesus in their hour of need, and to establish a relationship so they might always hear the truth.

The bishop said the “encounter with the Lord changes every part of our life when it happens,” and it is available to all those who believe.

“So we think we find ourselves lost and confused, but the Gospel teaches us to keep walking, to keep searching, and when we are at wits end or least expect it, we will turn and discover Jesus was with us every step of the way.”

In moments of doubt, the resurrection leads the way to a new awareness and of Christ’s love and a renewal of life, he said.

“What was once a fire reduced to embers will become burning blaze of love and allow us to go and reclaims the mission that is given to us, to be witnesses of his resurrection, that is alive with you and me. He has conquered sin, suffering and death. No matter what the challenge, we will have victory with him in this life and the life to come.”

Throughout the Mass for the Third Sunday in Easter Bishop Caggiano was accompanied in music and song by Lyndy Toole of Westport, a member of St. Luke’s Parish.

While the bishop has temporarily suspended the celebration of Holy Mass in the presence of the lay faithful, Bishop Caggiano and our priests are all still celebrating Mass every day. In many cases, these Masses are broadcast live or recorded and sent out to the faithful. You can find a complete list of our parishes streaming Mass below.

To learn more about live-streamed Masses, click this link: https://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/coronavirus/livestreamed-masses-and-prayers/ or Visit the YouTube Mass Playlist

Christ’s Victory is Absolute

Yesterday we celebrated the Octave of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday. It concludes an extraordinary week in the Church’s annual celebration of the Pascal Mystery of the Lord’s Resurrection. Let us consider its uniqueness and what it can teach us.

There are two interesting facts about the liturgy of last week that we can easily overlook. First, all the days of last week can be considered to be a single day. In other words, the one day of Easter extends over eight days in which to celebrate it! It is for this reason that each of these days is a Solemnity of the Lord, having precedence over every other celebration that would ordinarily fall on these days. In short, the importance of what happened on Easter morning is so great that it needs eight days in which to celebrate the single day of Easter.

It is also important to remember that the Easter season extends for 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. During this season, 40 days after Easter Sunday, we celebrate the Lord’s Ascension into Heaven. It is an extended period of celebration in which we are asked to consider what it means to be a community of faith built upon the apostolic witness of the Lord’s death and Resurrection. Prominent in this reflection is the Acts of the Apostles, which is proclaimed as the First Reading of each Mass in this season. I highly recommend that a prayerful reflection upon this inspired book of Scripture written by Saint Luke can be a source of great spiritual fruitfulness for you and me.

Even though we are still observing a time of confinement in our homes, the joy of Easter is a gift that the Risen Lord still wishes to give us. His victory over sin, suffering, disease, and death is absolute and offered to us through His grace. Let us not lose our focus on the meaning of this season in the midst of our struggles, for by the Lord’s death and Resurrection, we have been set free.

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

“Nothing can break the bonds of unity”

BRIDGEPORT—On a morning when hundreds of priest, deacons and religious and laity would normally gather for the blessing of oil and renewal of priestly vows, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano celebrated the Chrism Mass in the empty St. Augustine Cathedral as the Covid-19 crisis reaches its apex in Fairfield County.

“It is odd that I come to celebrate the Chrism Mass in an empty Church,” said the bishop of the unease and disconnect that many feel being unable to publicly gather for worship during Holy Week.

“You can say that our unity has been fractured, but the unity of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is more than physical proximity. The Holy Spirit draws us together in a way that transcends time and space. When we pray together, we are also here with all who came before us and no one and nothing could ever break that bond.’

More than 2,500 faithful watched the Mass, which was lived streamed on the diocesan website and Facebook page this morning at 10 am.

St. Augustine Cathedral pastor, Father Michael Novajosky and Father Alex Moronta, parochial vicar, assisted the bishop at the altar. No other priests were present.

St. Augustine choir master Dr. Sam Schmitt provided the solitary singing voice that filled the Cathedral with hymns, many of them in Latin, which has been sung at the liturgy for centuries.

In his homily the bishop noted that oil has been used throughout recorded history as source of energy, to heal wounds, and to anoint those who are chosen to serve God.

“We gather this Holy Thursday morning to do what the Church has done since its beginning—use oil as means for sanctification and blessing.”

The bishop moved from the main altar to bless the three oils used in sacraments throughout the year, “the oil of the sick for gravely ill and dying to receive the consolation of Christ in their hour of need; the oil of Catechumens that prepares our sisters and brothers awakened in faith to receive the fullness of God’s spirit; and those anointed in sacred chrism, who are not simply blessed but consecrated, so that the Holy Spirit can dwell within them and transform them.”

The bishop said that all believers who are consecrated in Baptism and Confirmation are drawn into the great unity of the Church, “made members of the Mystical Body of Christ and given the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” They must become bearers of “glad tidings” to those who are suffering and isolated.

During the Mass the bishop also directly addressed priests and led the Renewal of Priestly Promises with Father Novajosky and Father Moronta providing the responses.

“Today we also rejoice that in midst there are those men called to be consecrated in Chrism so that they might become priests of Jesus Christ,” he said he remembered the oil placed on his hands during the gift of his own ordination when he was consecrated as a priest.

“I ask your prayer of all my brother priests throughout the Church and the world. It is not easy to serve as priest of Jesus in any age, perhaps this more than others. In this most difficult time, I wish to thank my brother priests for their humble and generous service. You have offered your life so that other may have greater life.”

The bishop asked priests not to give into small divisions and the temptation to “see differences as more important than what unites us.”

He said that the isolation that many people feel during the Covid-19 crisis may be an opportunity to reflect on how often have we take the presence of others for granted and fail to be attentive to them.

“Our minds and hearts are somewhere else when they’re with us. When we can be back together in worship and in song, and around the tables of our homes, let us rejoice in the gift that we are to one another.”

He said the great challenge for all believers is to appreciate that when we are consecrated in Baptism and become members of the Body of Christ, “a unity is formed that cannot and should not every be broken.”

“As the sun sets this evening, we will be completing the observance of Lent and beginning the Triduum. We will walk with Jesus to the Upper Room… Let us walk with hope and purpose so that we may be bearers of good tidings and the promise of life in Jesus Christ.”

The Oil of the Catechumens, the Oil of the Infirm and the Holy Chrism (a mixture of olive oil and balsam used in ordinations and confirmation), will be distributed to parishes at a later date.

At the end of the Chrism Mass, the Bishop invited all the faithful throughout the diocese to join him in the Triduum liturgies that will be live streamed on the diocesan website (www.bridgeportdiocese.com) beginning tonight with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7 pm.

We’re called to “Walk the Road to Calvary”

BRIDGEPORT—Thousands went on line yesterday for the live-streamed Palm Sunday Mass of the Lord’s Passion celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at St. Augustine Cathedral, emptied of the faithful because of Covid-19 precautions.

In his homily the Bishop acknowledged the hardship many people feel because they were unable to receive palms, but urged people to

“This year we will live Holy Week in a very different way. We’re separated, but in that quiet isolation we will have the unique opportunity to spend time with Jesus, and allow his words to penetrate deeply into our hearts,” he said.

“Perhaps this year by not receiving palms, the choice is clear; our eyes will be fixed on the one who will free us, grant us recovery, grant us healing and lead us to an empty tomb and one day to everlasting life.

The bishop said that when Jesus “entered into the city of David,” many people misunderstood the source of his power and thought he would be a political liberator who would set them free of Caesar.

“Through his ministry Jesus reveals a Kingdom but not what this world would understand. His love led him freely to the road we are called to walk this week, the road to Calvary,” he said, nothing that true love is self-sacrifice for the good of others.

“This world does not understand that which Christ has come to bring, and in this time of great suffering , when so many of our sister sand brothers are afflicted, you and I can glimpse into the meaning of the Kingdom born on Calvary.”

The bishop praised the “heroic love” of doctors, nurses and rescue workers who are battling the Coronarvirus sacrificially, and “putting their lives at risk so that others may find healing and recovery.”

He also said that the women and men who are working on the front lines of grocery stores, gas stations and supermarkets are “the unspoken heroes who are risking their lives so that we may have food and drink in this time of crisis. They understand what Christ brought to Jerusalem and they are bringing it into our midst now as a sign of hope.”

The bishop said he hopes that palms will be distributed throughout the diocese, “if God wills,” on Pentecost Sunday, the last day of the Easter season, and they are a reminder to pursue the real Kingdom.

“We should remember what palms represent. All the palms will be burned to dust and ashes. However, what seems to be a defeat on Calvary is the true light an d life that will set us free.”

Because the faithful cannot gather in Church for Mass during the crisis, the bishop has invited all to join him online he celebratez Holy Week and Triduum liturgies from Saint Augustine Cathedral. All the liturgies will be live-streamed on the Diocesan website (www.bridgeportdiocese.com):

Chrism Mass: Thursday, April 9 at 10 am
Mass of the Lord’s Supper: Thursday, April 9 at 7 pm
Stations of the Cross: Friday, April 10 at 12 noon
The Passion of the Lord: Friday, April 10 at 3 pm
Easter Vigil in the Holy Night: Saturday, April 11 at 7 pm
Easter Sunday: Sunday, April 12 at 8 am

Bishop’s live-streamed Holy Week Schedule

BRIDGEPORT—Please join us for the first live-stream of Bishop Frank’s Holy Week liturgies.

Livestream of the Passion of the Lord
Join us live for Stations of the Cross
Holy Week Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Live-stream of this year’s Chrism Mass.


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you are aware, I recently had to make the very difficult decision to suspend all public Masses during Holy Week, given the continuing spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the health restrictions requested by state and local authorities.

The inability for us to gather together in our parishes and for diocesan liturgies has been a great hardship and loss for priests and laity, particularly as we enter the most sacred and solemn mysteries of the Church during Holy Week and Easter. In that absence, I have urged all to deepen their private and family prayer and seek out ways to be in spiritual communion when we cannot receive the sacraments. The response throughout the diocese to Nine Days of Prayer, live-streamed Masses, and other resources has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging.

For this reason, I invite you to join me online as I celebrate Holy Week and Triduum liturgies from Saint Augustine Cathedral. All the liturgies will be live-streamed on the Diocesan website (www.bridgeportdiocese.com). This is a wonderful opportunity to gather with me in prayer as we ask the Lord’s blessing during these trying times. The schedule is as follows:

Chrism Mass: Thursday, April 9 at 10 am
Mass of the Lord’s Supper: Thursday, April 9 at 7 pm
Stations of the Cross: Friday, April 10 at 12 noon
The Passion of the Lord: Friday, April 10 at 3 pm
Easter Vigil in the Holy Night: Saturday, April 11 at 7 pm
Easter Sunday: Sunday, April 12 at 8 am

During this period of “Eucharistic fast,” it is my hope that we will more than ever be united in solidarity with each other and the universal Church. Please know that I will continue to pray for you and your family. I also hope that you find consolation in knowing that your continued support for the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) has enabled core diocesan ministries to bring the mercy and love of the Church to so many during this crisis.

Knowing “that all things work for good for those who love God” (Rom. 8:28), we daily entrust ourselves to the care of the Lord and the protection of our Blessed Mother. At the same time, we eagerly await the day when the doors of our churches are open again and we are able to worship at Mass together in person.

May the Lord grant us the grace we need to persevere, to remain steadfast and to grow in faith, hope and love.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport

Bishop Frank’s Letter to the Faithful

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Who among us could have imagined just a few months ago that our global society would be confronting such a crisis as the Coronavirus pandemic? In these days, who does not feel our collective vulnerability and personal frailty? This is a time when fear and even panic can overtake us, in part because we have far more questions than answers.  As Christians, we must resist such fears. Rather, we must respond with prudent actions rooted in charity for our neighbor, seeking to protect the most vulnerable among us, heeding the recommendations that have been mandated by civil authorities and to plead for God’s mercy that this scourge will end quickly and that the lives of our sisters and brothers throughout the world will be spared.

In Matthew 8:23-27, we recall the day when the apostles sailing in their boat were suddenly caught in the middle of a great storm that threatened their survival. Their immediate reaction was one of fear and panic. Yet, when they called upon the Lord, He heard their pleas and commanded the winds and the waves to be still. My friends, this is our time, in the middle of a great storm, to cast away our fears, turn to the Lord and to ask for His grace.

In order to protect the lives of the faithful and our priests, I took the extraordinary measure to temporarily suspend public Masses in our diocese. I understand the deep spiritual hardship that this absence has created in the minds and hearts of many. Yet, recognizing that our Churches have served as places of refuge in times of need, we will do all that is possible to see that our Churches remain safely open for private prayer, for Exposition of the Eucharist, and to serve as places to seek solace with the Lord.

I also invite you to use this time we now spend at home to prepare more diligently for the celebration of the Easter Mysteries.  Personally, I have begun to pray the Stations of the Cross each day, since they powerfully remind me that the Lord always walks with us, helping us to carry our own personal crosses.

In my conversations with our priests and people in the past weeks, I am humbled to see their resolve, goodness and readiness to help all those in need. Please be assured that you are remembered in my prayers as I ask for your prayers during this difficult time. We will get through this together and continue the work of renewal in our lives.

As Christians we know that suffering will always be a part of our life. We understand and accept this mystery at the foot of the Cross of Christ. Yet we also know that the Lord suffered and died so that we might live and share in His victory over fear, suffering, and death itself. We are never alone in our sufferings. Christ is here to lead us along paths unknown to victory and life.

This is the time to do as Jesus commanded: to be brave despite fear, to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of others, and to pray. Especially pray. The health and life of so many now hang in the balance. Pray for miracles both medical and spiritual. Pray for the conversion of many hearts. Pray for an end to this scourge in our midst. Pray that the Lord will see us to safety and renewed life. In Him.

Entrusting each one of you to the loving care of our Blessed Mother, I am

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano

Bishop of Bridgeport

 

Unexpected time with the Lord

One of the unexpected consequences of the need for us to shelter at home and avoid all social gatherings is having a great deal of unstructured time in what is usually the busiest times of the year. For me, given my very busy pace of life, it is quite jarring to have so much time is now free from travel and ministerial obligations. I woke up this morning and asked myself: how can I best use this free time? Perhaps you have asked yourself the same question.

At a minimum, we now have extra time to spend in prayer each day- prayer that is sorely needed to seek eternal repose for the dead, to remember those who are sick and living in great fear, our health care workers who remain on the front lines of this disease, and for one another. We may never again have a Lenten season that affords us so much time to give to the Lord. Let us use this time wisely and well.

I would also suggest that you and I can revisit our Lenten promises and see if there are other things that we can do in our homes to prepare our minds and hearts for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery. For my part, I have added the daily practice of the Stations of the Cross, which gives me great comfort and consolation. To meditate on the Lord’s passion and death each day by praying the Stations reminds me that He is here with us, in this hour of suffering and fear. He will walk with us as we carry our own crosses, especially in this time of uncertainty.

We will be facing many challenges in the weeks ahead. However, we now have an unexpected time to spend with the Lord. It is a gift that we should not waste.

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

Preparation, Prudence, Prayer

As the coronavirus crisis deepens across the world, allow me to suggest three ways by which we can respond in a way consistent with our Catholic faith. For ease of remembrance, I can call this advice the “three p’s.”

Preparation: It is important that in every aspect of our lives, including our worship together on a daily and weekly basis, we prepare ourselves in every way possible to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe from this virus. Much of what we should do has been explained in great detail by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We need to remember that our preparations (i.e., washing our hands frequently, disinfecting any public area that is touched by many people, etc.) is an act of charity, protecting not simply ourselves but the most vulnerable in our midst, especially the elderly and sick.

Prudence: The definition of prudence is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by use of reason. This means that we should not overreact or give into a sense of panic that can easily be generated by some of the media coverage we hear each day. We need to act reasonably, proportionately and decisively in our preparations and interactions with others. Once again, refraining from unnecessary handshakes, avoiding large crowds at events for which our presence is neither required nor needed, are acts of prudence that are charitable and in service of our neighbor.

Prayer: This is a time when we must offer intercessory prayers for all those who have died from this disease, that they may rest in the Lord’s peace. We must pray for consolation for their families and loved ones during their time of sorrow and grief. Let us also pray for those who have been sickened by the virus, that they will soon recover, and for all those who are quarantined and are living alone and in fear. Finally, let us pray that this emergency may pass and that our love for one another will help us to make the right decisions to keep each other safe.

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

Developing a Spirit of Sacrifice and Repentance

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As we prepare for the start of the discipline of Lent, the Ceremonial of Bishops reminds us of the nature of this special season:

“The annual observance of Lent is the special season for the ascent to the holy mountain of Easter. Through its twofold theme of repentance and baptism, the season of Lent disposes both the catechumens (i.e., those preparing to be baptized) and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery. Catechumens are led to the sacraments of initiation by means of the Rite of Election, the scrutinies and catechesis. The faithful, listening more intently to the Word of God and devoting themselves to prayer are prepared through a spirit of repentance to renew their baptismal promises.”

In other words, for those of us already baptized, Lent provides us a time to deepen our prayer and grow in a spirit of self-sacrifice so that when we come to Easter, we will celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Christ as the divine gift that gives our life its true meaning and the path to everlasting life.

How will you and I deepen your prayer this Lent? How will you and I develop a spirit of sacrifice and repentance?

We have the balance of this day to decide.

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