Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

The shepherd of San Francisco offered a beautiful homily at the Mass for the Walk for Life West Coast, reflecting on ‘St. Agnes, patron saint of the new chapter in building a culture of life …’

Editor’s Note: The following homily was given by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone at the Mass for the Walk for Life West Coast today. It is printed with permission.

Pictured: Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone celebrates Mass ahead of the Walk for Life West Coast. (photo: Screenshot / Archdiocese of San Francisco)

Introduction

When the idea first came to me to commission a new Mass of sacred music for this Mass in our cathedral before the annual Walk for Life West Coast, I foresaw it as marking the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of Jan. 22, 1973.

Of course, I had not intended this as the kind of happy anniversary that one celebrates with great festivity, such as a wedding anniversary or an anniversary of ordination or religious profession. Rather, I had foreseen it in the same sense of other anniversaries of great tragedies in history, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor or the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

New and Constant Challenges

Little did I know, nor anyone else for that matter, that there actually would be something happy to celebrate. What so many of us dreamed of, prayed for and worked hard for during the course of half a century came to pass: the overturning of this monstrous decision. While the now historic Dobbs decision is a great step forward in building a culture of life in our society, in another sense it adds new and even greater challenges, especially here in our own state of California, which promises to be a so-called “sanctuary state” for abortion. Surely there could be no greater oxymoron, for “sanctuary” is about protecting human life and human rights, not taking them away!

You’ve heard the [mainstream] news stories, just as I have. Even the very labels they use show their bias: We are “anti-abortion” while they are “pro-choice” or “for abortion rights.” Of course, they fail to recognize that if you stand for something, you will be opposed to the opposite. People can be labeled according to what they are for, or what they are against. You cannot be for something without being against its opposite, just as, by the same token, you cannot be against something without being for its opposite.

So, yes, we are opposed to the killing of innocent human life in all circumstances, which is why we are pro-life; just as they are opposed to laws that prohibit the killing of innocent human life. And notice how we are labeled as a small minority way out of the mainstream. But that puts us in good company: such were the abolitionists in mid-19th-century America and likewise the protagonists of civil rights in the Jim Crow South.

To advocate for what is just and true in a society which stands in opposition to it will always entail suffering and some kind of persecution. Enter our saint for today. When the thought occurred to me to commission this Mass, I also did not foresee that it would occur on the feast day of St. Agnes, a virgin and martyr.

The Story of St. Agnes

St. Agnes lived in Rome around the year 300, around the time the persecution of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian had begun. Being a beautiful young woman from a well-to-do Roman family, she was highly sought after for marriage. But she turned down all of her suitors because she had consecrated her virginity to her heavenly spouse, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, that got those suitors quite riled up, and so they accused her to the Roman governor of being a Christian, confident that threats of torture would persuade her to change her mind. But she feared none of it, not the threat of fire, nor hooks, nor the rack — none of it. So her persecutors got the idea to violate her in another way, and so sent her to a house of ill-repute. But she had full confidence in her Lord, that he would protect her purity. And so he did.

Exasperated at the defiance of this little girl — St. Agnes was only a teenager when she was martyred — the governor condemned her to be beheaded. St. Ambrose recounts that, on hearing the death sentence, St. Agnes “went to the place of execution more cheerfully than others go to their wedding.” She is both virgin and martyr: young, fearless, and completely confident in the love and protection of her Lord.

“Protection,” you might ask? She ended up being executed, after all, and in a most brutal way. What kind of protection is that? For St. Agnes, though — and all of the Christian saints and martyrs, for that matter — “protection” means protection of the integrity of one’s faith and virtue. This, in the end, is the only thing that matters, for we are all eventually going to die, sooner or later. It’s what happens in eternity that really matters.

Lesson From the Parable of the 10 Virgins

As both virgin and martyr, St. Agnes provides us the model and inspiration we need to build a culture of life in this new, changed post-Dobbs world. She already lived in her body the nuptial union with her Lord about which he teaches us in today’s Gospel reading.

The scenario of this parable would have been familiar to the people of that time and place, for it reflects the typical Jewish marriage customs in biblical times: Then (as now) the bridegroom and bride had attendants to accompany them; the bridegroom would go to the house of the bride in the evening and be received with joy and honor; then he would lead his bride to his house for the wedding feast and, with the consummation of the marriage, the process of becoming married would be complete. Delays were not uncommon, so we can understand the practicalities of the need to be prepared for one, just in case.

The practical details in the story, though, are symbolic, for they are lessons to us of the whole point of the Christian life in this world:

  • The lamps represent faith, for it is only by the light of faith that we can perceive spiritual realities;
  • The oil for those lamps represents good works, that is, a life of charity, of virtue, of faith put into action — this is what feeds faith and makes it shine bright, just as oil feeds a lamp and keeps the flame alive to give off light;
  • Falling asleep signifies death and trimming lamps preparation to render an account of one’s works to God (St. Augustine in Sermon 23 de Verbis Domini);
  • The cry at midnight, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” speaks to us of Christ’s return at the end of the world, when he will come to judge the living and dead, as
  • St. Paul teaches us in First Thessalonians (“For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Drawing on all of these elements, the lesson for us is clear: We will be judged by our faith, but our faith has to be informed by good works — virtue, charity — which keeps it alive; otherwise, it dies. And after the final judgment, there is no turning back. Notice how definitive it is: “… the bridegroom came. … Then the door was locked.” There is absolute finality here: Some are left out, excluded from the wedding feast — those who had no virtue, no acts of charity to shine the light of faith in the world.

Witnesses of Integrity of Faith and Virtue Today

In the Gospels, the wedding feast is the classic image of the Kingdom of God, for it is nothing less than the meaning of conjugal union: a comprehensive, complete communion of persons where the two become one yet also retain their unique individual identity. This is the communion that God seeks with us and that the elect will enjoy in His Kingdom for all eternity.

This is the lesson St. Agnes teaches us: the willingness to give everything, even bodily life itself, to maintain the integrity of one’s faith and virtue and so be found blameless on the day of the visitation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so brought into that perfect communion with him. The gift of virginity is, too, symbolic as well as literal, for it represents and embodies that purity which makes possible the total of give of self to another. This is the meaning of love, which is nothing less than that perfect communion, ultimately, communion with God.

St. Agnes, though, teaches us one more valuable lesson as well, one that can be found in her very name: lamb. The lamb is the animal of sacrifice. Sacrifice will inevitably come to those who live by the spiritual truths perceivable only by the light of faith. Sacrifice means “to make holy,” which comes about by giving yourself away in love for the good of another, for a greater good. This is what it means to be great in the eyes of God, not of the world.

Conclusion

My dear young people, you who are the Pro-Life Generation: God is calling you to greatness! Greatness does not come from power or wealth, or from what St. Paul calls wisdom by human standards, that is, the dominant narrative of a dehumanized culture divorced from the vision of faith in the one, true God. From where does greatness come, according to St. Paul? It comes from being foolish enough to be chosen by God to shame the wise of this world, that is, those who perpetrate the destructive myths of the culture of death; by being weak enough to shame the strong, having the spiritual strength to speak truth to power and endure the ridicule, insults and rejection that will come with it; by being lowly, humble and even despised so that God can use you to bring down those who are high and mighty in the eyes of the world but who, by word and example, lead others down the path of self-destruction. Greatness comes from the humility, innocence and spiritual strength that enables one to become a lamb of sacrifice.

Let the teenager St. Agnes be your model, your guide and your inspiration. Imitate her virtues of purity, courage and joy in living her life for the love of Christ. Like her, and St. Paul, let your only boast be our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave his all for us, for our sanctification and redemption, even though he did not stand to receive anything in return. May he be praised forever! Amen!

Originally published @ ncregister.org
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone | Nation| January 22, 2023

Also see: https://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/pro-life-mass-to-feature-former-stamford-music-directors-compositions/

WASHINGTON— For the first time since the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v.
Wade, the Knights of Columbus and pro-life advocates from across the U.S. joined together at
the 50th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. to support and defend the right to life.

Knights of Columbus councils from across the nation organized buses from their local councils,
parishes and communities to the nation’s capital, helping as many as possible to participate in
this year’s landmark March for Life. This year’s march was highlighted by Life Fest, a lively
pre-rally concert and youth rally co-hosted with the Sisters of Life, where pro-life advocates
gathered to listen to dynamic speakers and music, celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of Mass and spend time in Eucharistic Adoration.

Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly issued the following statement in support of those who participated in the 2023 March for Life:

“In one of the most important Marches for Life since members of the Knights of Columbus
joined founder Nellie Gray at her kitchen table fifty years ago, tens of thousands of Knights and
supporters of life – including thousands of young people – walked in solidarity with mothers,
their unborn children, and all who believe in the dignity and worth of every human life.
Together, we’ve worked for nearly five decades to make the March for Life the largest annual
human rights demonstration in the world.

“The end of Roe represents a crucial milestone. But we cannot mistake it for the end of abortion. In a post-Roe America, the Knights of Columbus will continue to show our nation’s lawmakers that life is a precious gift worth protecting, and we’ll proudly march for life until abortion is unthinkable.

“As we look to the future, the pro-life movement will proclaim to a whole new generation those points we’ve made clear since the first March in 1974 — that life is beautiful and sacred; that being pro-life means being pro-woman and pro-child; and that women deserve better than abortion.

“Even before the Dobbs decision, the Knights moved to expand our pro-life efforts in a
significant way. In early June 2022, we launched a new Knights of Columbus campaign —
called ASAP, which stands for Aid and Support After Pregnancy. ASAP is a call to action for
Knights across the United States, Canada, and now Poland, to raise even more money for
pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes and other organizations which give direct
assistance to new mothers and babies. We set a goal of $5 million in ASAP’s first year, and
we’re already well on our way to exceeding that.

“In fact, since 2009, Knights have donated more than 1,600 ultrasound machines to pregnancy
resource centers in all fifty states. Ultrasound machines equip these centers with a tremendous
tool that can save thousands of lives — the lives of unborn children, women and men who may
otherwise face a lifetime of regret and grief.”

Clases de formacion sobre los Siete Sacramentos comienzan lunes, el 16 de enero.

Los clases estan a la Iglesia Santa Maria en Bridgeport, en el salon parroquial. a las 7:15 pm.

Por favor trae un cuaderno, catecismo, y Biblia. 

NEW HAVEN—Released today, the 2023 Knights of Columbus–Marist Poll reveals that
69 percent of Americans support limiting abortion to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy. This survey, conducted by the Marist Poll and commissioned annually by the Knights of Columbus, also found that 91 percent of Americans support pregnancy resource centers, which offer support to mothers both during their pregnancy and after their baby is born. Additionally, the poll found that 60 percent of respondents oppose using tax dollars for abortion services domestically, and 78 percent oppose funding abortion services abroad.

“Nearly 7 in 10 Americans believe abortion should be limited,” says Dr. Barbara L. Carvalho,
Director of the Marist Poll. “After a year of contentious public debate over the Supreme Court’s
Dobbs decision, the results are comparable to the findings of a Knights of Columbus–Marist Poll conducted last January.”

“Since the start of the Knights of Columbus—Marist Poll in 2008, we’ve seen a consistent and clear consensus of Americans who support restrictions on abortion,” said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly. “Likewise, an overwhelming majority of people—90 percent this year—believe that our laws can protect both the mother and her unborn child. Too often, the abortion debate is framed in the context of supporting either one or the other. The reality is, we can—and must—craft laws that protect both mothers and their children.”

Supreme Knight Kelly continued, “In early June 2022, we launched a new Knights of Columbus
campaign called ASAP, which stands for Aid and Support After Pregnancy. ASAP is a call to action for Knights across the United States and Canada to offer even more support for pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes and other organizations that give direct assistance to new mothers and babies. We set a goal of $5 million in ASAP’s first year, and we’re already well on our way to exceeding that.”

Supreme Knight Kelly concluded, “The Knights will redouble our efforts to restore a culture of life and advance a culture of compassion for pregnant women in need.”

Other key 2023 Knights of Columbus–Marist Poll findings include:

  • 77 percent of Americans believe doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals with religious objections to abortions should not be legally required to perform them.
  • A majority of Americans—60 percent—are opposed to abortion if the child will be born with
    Down Syndrome.

Methodology
This survey of 1,025 adults 18 years of age and older residing in the United States was conducted January 6 through January 9, 2023, by The Marist Poll and sponsored by The Knights of Columbus. Survey questions were available in English or Spanish and conducted online and by phone using the probability-based SSRS Opinion Panel. The sample was balanced to reflect the 2020 American Community Survey five-year estimates for age, gender, income, race and region. Results are statistically significant within ±3.5 percentage points. There are 885 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within ±3.8 percentage points. Tables include subgroups only to display crosstabs with an acceptable sampling error. It should be noted that although you may not see results listed for a certain group, it does not mean interviews were not completed with those individuals. It simply means the sample size is too small to report. The error margin was adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.

For more information, please visit kofc.org/polls.

 


About the Knights of Columbus
In 1882, Blessed Michael McGivney, a young parish priest in New Haven, Connecticut, founded the Knights of Columbus to serve the needs of a largely immigrant Catholic community. What began as a small fraternal benefit society has since grown into one of the world’s leading international charitable organizations. In 2021, Knights around the world donated nearly 48 million service hours and nearly $154 million for worthy causes in their communities. As the world’s premier lay Catholic men’s organization, the Knights is comprised of more than 2 million members in over 16,000 local councils. The Knights of Columbus also offers extensive life insurance products to members and their families. Knights of Columbus currently has more than $120 billion of life insurance in force and was named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Insurance Companies 2023. In addition, the Knights provides investment services in accord with Catholic social teaching through Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors, which holds more than $25 billion in assets under management. Based on the founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity, the Knights of Columbus is committed to strengthening Catholic families and parishes and to practicing faith in action through service to all in need.

To learn more or to join the Knights of Columbus, please visit kofc.org/join.

WASHINGTON – In observance of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a statement:

“People keep saying, ‘Where’s the next Martin Luther King?’ We’re all called, I think. We’re called by our citizenship, by our membership in the human race. We’re all called to free ourselves and to free one another.” – Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA

Today, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have celebrated his 94th birthday, we reflect on his legacy of a non-violent struggle against racial injustice. In the 60 years since Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, we recognize the progress made towards a just society that leaves no one on the margins, without failing to acknowledge that much work remains.

Beyond remembering and quoting Dr. King today, we must act to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, access to affordable housing and healthcare, and economic opportunities. The USCCB continues to support policy changes in these areas of society. On our website, you may read more about our policy work, the USCCB’s efforts to overcome racism, and ministry resources in working with and for Catholics of African descent.

Remembering that Dr. King was guided first by his faith also challenges us to personal conversion. Unjust structures exist because personal sin persists. As the late Pope Benedict XVI expressed, “To renew the church in every age, God raises up saints, who themselves have been renewed by God and are in constant contact with God.” For models of lives transformed, we can always turn to the saints. To this end, the USCCB has advanced beatification and canonization causes of six inspirational African American men and women: Venerable Pierre Toussaint, Servant of God Mother Mary Lange, Venerable Henriette Delille, Venerable Augustus Tolton, Servant of God Julia Greeley, and Sister Thea Bowman.

May their holy examples convert our hearts and our society, that we may achieve Dr. King’s dream of building a society where every person is recognized as a beloved son or daughter of God and treated with the justice and dignity that they deserve.

To read about the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, which works on the bishops’ domestic policy priorities, please visit: https://www.usccb.org/committees/domestic-justice-and-human-development/who-we-are

For more information on African Americans and Catholic ministry, please visit: https://www.usccb.org/committees/african-american-affairs/timely-resources-ministry-catholics-african-descent.

For additional information on the USCCB’s efforts to overcome racism, please visit: https://www.usccb.org/committees/ad-hoc-committee-against-racism.

TRUMBULL— St. Joseph High School, Connecticut’s largest, co-ed, Catholic college preparatory school, announced today the names of 13 student-athletes who will sign National
Letters of Intent or Celebratory Letters in seven different sports on Wednesday,  January 18, 2023 at 10 am.

The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a document used to indicate a student’s commitment to
participating in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) colleges and universities. The NLI is a binding agreement between a student-athlete and an NLI member institution. The Celebratory Letter (for Division III athletes) indicates that a student has been accepted to and plans to attend an institution.

The following St. Joes Seniors will participate:

Julia Bike – Girls Soccer – George Mason University (D1)
Niamh Dougherty – Softball – Colgate University (D1)
Megan Dzialo – Gymnastics – Bowling Green State University (D1)
John Karafa – Boys Lacrosse – Quinnipiac University (D1)
Hannah Silva – Girls Soccer – Fairfield University (D1)
Jake Pacacha – Boys Soccer – Bloomsburg University (D2)
Andrew Reynolds – Boys Lacrosse – St Michael’s College (D2)
Emily Robinson – Girls Soccer – Bentley University (D2)
Andrew Flynn – Golf – Bowdoin College (D3)
Riley McDermott – Softball – Eastern Connecticut State University (D3)
Ryan Rooney – Boys Lacrosse – Endicott College (D3)
Sam Rosa – Boys Lacrosse – Western Connecticut State University (D3)
Matt Tabet – Baseball – Amherst College (D3)

“To be invited to be a collegiate level athlete is no small feat,” remarked Kevin Butler, Athletics
Director at St. Joseph’s. “When you think about the amount of time spent on and off the
field – the hard work and commitment, both academically and athletically – it’s an outstanding
achievement. We wish all of our Cadets the best and we cannot wait to see what they do next.”

As part of their NLI, prospective student-athletes agree to attend the institution full-time for one academic year and the institution agrees to provide athletes financial aid for one academic year.

About St. Joseph High School
St. Joseph High School (SJHS) strives to be the premier college preparatory school in Southern Connecticut. The school provides a learning environment that embraces the Gospel values of the Roman Catholic faith and promotes a commitment to family and community. SJHS prepares young women and men to realize their potential, helps them to excel in higher education, and provides a foundation to guide them throughout their lives. St. Joseph High School is a member of NCEA, NAIS, NEAS&C. Learn more at www.sjcadets.org