UP Catholic 00 01 2017 E Edition Page 3

www.upcatholic.org THE U.P. CATHOLIC TRANSFORMING FIRE: PASTORAL LETTER ON EVANGELIZATION June 16, 2017 3 Thank you to the Knights of Columbus Councils of the Upper Peninsula for making it possible to publish Bishop John Doerfler's Pastoral Letter on Evangelization in the Diocese of Marquette! his presence. Jesus speaks of the presence of the Holy Spirit and knowing him because he is within us (John 14:15-17). Jesus said that he would be with us always (Matthew 28:20). The Prophet Elijah en- countered God in quiet stillness (1 Kings 19:12). We may simply be aware that God is good as we taste and see the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 34:9). We can experience Gods love burning in our hearts as the disciples did on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:32). God can fill us with joy: You have put glad- ness in my heart more than when grain and wine abound (Psalm 4:8). We can experience God as a source of strength, peace and comfort (Psalm 23). Sometimes an experience of God can be quite pow- erful as when St. Paul encountered the Lord on the way to Damascus (Acts 9). (For more on the experi- ence of God, see Thomas Dubay, S.M., Authenticity: A Biblical Theology of Discernment , 56-80.) A personal encounter with Jesus heals the wounds of our hearts and opens the door to faith. The Gos- pels are filled with examples of how people encoun- tered Jesus and his healing love. There are many accounts of healings that continue today. God pours out his love and mercy in abundance to heal us from sin. The fundamental healing we need is from sin, which breaks our relationship with God and causes brokenness and disorder in society. Jesus calls us to repent from our sins, not hiding from him but bringing ourselves honestly to him as we are. When we confess our sins, he pours out his love and mercy in abundance to heal us and restore our relationship with the Father while helping us live relationships of justice, peace, and love in society. Jesus is also able to heal negative emotions from our past with his love. Moreover, the physical healings we read about in the Gospels continue in our midst today through the power of prayer in Jesus name. Jesus loves us and wants to encounter us where we are, to heal and transform us by his presence as he calls us to make a decision to commit our whole life to follow him in faith. In the Gospel accounts, the healing work of Jesus is connected with faith. Those who encounter Jesus power and love through his forgiveness of their sins and through emotional and physical healing, are always invited by Jesus to put their faith in him. Jesus healing works are demonstrations of his love for people, and what he wants in return is their per- sonal faith, trust and surrender to him as Lord. He thirsts for their love and a relationship with them. For example, in the healing of the man born blind (John 9), we read this dialogue between Jesus and the man who was healed: He [Jesus] found him and said, Do you believe in the Son of Man? He answered and said, Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him? Jesus said to him, You have seen him, and the one speaking to you is he. He said, I do believe, Lord, and he worshipped him. (John 9:35-38) Moreover, when we encounter Jesus and are touched by his love, we desire to turn away from our sins and change our lives. For example, when Zac- chaeus encountered Jesus, he said: Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone, I shall repay it four times over. (Luke 19:8) Let us open our hearts to the love of God by bring- ing ourselves to Jesus as we are, with all of our sins and brokenness, that we may have a personal en- counter with him and that he may heal the wounds of our hearts. Allow me to reiterate the words of Pope Francis: I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace. ( The Joy of the Gospel , 3) B. Prayer The personal encounter with Jesus is deepened and renewed though the celebration of the Sacra- ments and a life of daily prayer. The Second Vatican Council speaks of the cele- bration of the Eucharist as the source and summit of our life. At Mass we encounter Jesus most of all in the Holy Eucharist. At Mass we witness a mira- cle. Bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Our Lord Jesus gives us himself as spiritual food. When we receive Holy Communion, it should not be merely an external gesture but an opening of our heart to receive Jesus and be one with him. When you receive Holy Communion, do you invite Jesus more deeply into your heart? At Mass we also encounter Jesus through the read- ings from Sacred Scripture. When the readings are proclaimed at Mass, God really speaks to us. Have you ever stopped to think about what God wants to say to you in the Scripture readings? To focus our attention, it is helpful to read the readings before Mass, even together as a family. At Mass, we also encounter Jesus through the ministry of the priest and through one another. I will say more on this below when I discuss Forming Welcoming Parishes . Given how important Mass is for an ongoing en- counter with Jesus, let us all renew our commitment his presence Jesus speaks of the presence of the in abundance to heal us and restore our relationship

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