An entire season to be thankful

By The Most Rev. Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange     4/13/2016

This season of the Resurrection of the Lord (all 50 days of it!) give us much to be thankful for, including the ministry of all our parish priests, catechumenate and directors of religious education directors, parish staff and all involved in the welcoming of new members of the Body of Christ this past Holy Week. The totals were nearly 1,600 baptized and received into full communion; we were mentioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as having one of the highest totals in the United States. It is our call and mission these holy days and beyond to encourage, welcome and reach out to our new brothers and sisters in this “Family of God” and make sure that they are welcomed, and feel at home and involved in the life of the Body of Christ.

With the continued violence in the Middle East and elsewhere, let us never forget to make known, pray for, and speak out for the Christians in these places who are persecuted. There is a silence about them in the public square, though they experience firsthand the suffering of Christ in a way that we never have. They deserve our solidarity, prayer and voices in this holy season.

Finally, this Easter season sees the publication of the Holy Father’s Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. I was very mindful of the gift of family the day after the publication of this Apostolic Exhortation, when at St. Barbara’s in Santa Ana I prayed morning prayer and blessed families of all ages (many with young children) who are participating in the “Great Mission,” some of them being sent forth on Mission to far parts of the world. I was reflecting on the gift of family when I met so many families involved in the parish festival of St. Boniface in Anaheim this past week. As with other parish festivals, it would not happen without the presence of our families and their witness to the Faith. These parish festivals are very concrete and tangible ways of accompanying families in their lives! I also am very mindful of the gift of family as I travel across the country to spend a few days with my brothers and sisters and their families in celebration of what would have been the 66th wedding anniversary of Mom and Dad.

I would add my encouragement to gradually and slowly read this document, resisting all efforts at labels and categorization of the contents. This is the urging as well of the leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, such as Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Bishop James Malone.

This issue of the Orange County Catholic offers, among other commentary, that of Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles. I close with these opening reflections of Pope Francis, who says: “The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church. As the Synod Fathers noted, for all the many signs of crisis in the institution of marriage, the desire to marry and form a family remains vibrant, especially among young people, and this is an inspiration to the Church. As a response to that desire, the Christian proclamation on the family is good news indeed.”

More to follow.