December 13, 2019
St. Lucy, Virgin/Martyr
St. Lucy, Virgin/Martyr
As I greet you to recap this final day of the official “Ad Limina Visit”, the weather has changed and it is a rainy, windy, grey December day, the antithesis of what this Feast of St. Lucy represents, one whose name means Light, and one who is a special patron of the ability to reflect the Light of Christ in every aspect of her life. As one whose sight was violently taken from her as part of her torture before her martyrdom, she is the patroness of those with issues of Sight. Santa Lucia, ora pro nobis!
Our final day had a more leisurely beginning, but certainly ended up being a full day and one that was quite interesting. There were 3 Dicastery meetings, beginning at 9:00 with the Dicastery for Consecrated Life, at 10:30 with the Pontifical Council for Culture, and at 12:00 with the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. Each of these meetings were interesting, generated fruitful dialogue among the Bishops and the Dicastery Staff members, and were mutually helpful to all of us.
One of the generalizations that I would make about all the meetings we have had over these days is that the Roman Curia holds the Church in the United States in fairly high regard. Each has made the point that they want to learn from us, and they have also each gone to great lengths to assure us that while we may see our own situations as “the glass half empty”, from their perspective on the global scene, they see our “glasses to be half full”; in other words, they continuously urge us not to be discouraged by the circumstances that we find to be our current reality. They remind us that there are parts of the world that are having much greater problems. They also remind us that no matter what the realities we are facing, the Church remains a profoundly important stabilizing force in society, and always serves as a beacon of Hope to a world that for all the ways it tries to say that Faith is irrelevant, the Gospel continues to be the Good News that all the world needs.
Following the last Dicastery meeting, our Region VI celebrated Mass together late this afternoon as our final joint spiritual event, before joining with the Bishops of Region VII to attend a reception at the Villa Richardson, hosted by the Ambassador of the United States to the Vatican, the Honorable Callista Gingrich. She was joined in hosting us by her very well-known husband, former Speaker of the House, the Honorable Newt Gingrich. It was a lovely evening, and a very enjoyable way to conclude this official “Ad Limina Visit”.
This has been a long, full, and very busy week. It’s been filled with many wonderful highpoints: the celebration of Holy Mass at each of the four major Basilicas, especially at the Tombs of the great Sts., Peter and Paul; the personal, fraternal, and very open meeting with our Holy Father, Pope Francis; the great dialogue with each of the important Dicasteries of the Roman Curia; the special grace of having this Ad Limina visit in this beautiful Season of Advent, amidst two special Feasts of our dear Blessed Mother; the joy of seeing Rome getting prepared for the Joy of Christmas; and the wonder of being in this amazing City of Rome, and the Vatican itself—-a city that is ancient, but always new—-the Eternal City. I have prayed intensely for all of you every day of this week: for the priests, deacons, religious, lay leaders, and lay Faithful members of all the parishes of our beloved Diocese; I have prayed for all my beloved family and dear friends who support me and give me strength; I have prayed for an increase in Vocations to the Priesthood, Religious Life, and the Sacrament of Marriage; and I have prayed especially for those who are struggling with any particular issues of health, family concern, or vocational dilemmas. I have prayed that our Diocese will be renewed, beginning with me, including all our priests/deacons, and encompassing every one of our Faithful people—-renewed in our love for Jesus in the Eucharist, and renewed in the practice of our Faith. I have prayed that more people will open their hearts to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ who don’t now know Him; and I have prayed that all of us who DO know and love Jesus will become fervent witnesses to our Love for Jesus as true missionary disciples. These have been my prayers at each of the holy places I have visited throughout this week.
I am more than ready to return home. Please pray for a safe flight. Please pray that I will continue to be a faithful and loving Shepherd after the Heart of Christ. And please pray that our upcoming “Year of the Eucharist 2020” will help to “renew the face of the earth”, at least this part of the earth in the 9 counties that makes up the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
As we move into the final 1 and 1/2 weeks of Advent, may we truly long for the coming of Christ into our hearts. Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Faithfully yours in Christ,
+ Bishop Paul J. Bradley
Bishop of Kalamazoo