The Masterworks of God
I have frequently been asked what is my favorite activity as bishop. Without hesitation, I answer that the most joyful and fulfilling tasks of my episcopal ministry are preaching the Word of God and celebrating the sacraments. I think our priests would agree that these are the most fulfilling aspects of their priestly ministry. As bishop, I have the special privilege of being the minister of the sacrament of Holy Orders and the ordinary minister of Confirmation.
This past weekend, I celebrated four Confirmation Masses as well as an ordination Mass. This week I have an additional six Confirmation Masses on my calendar. I love visiting our parishes to celebrate the sacred liturgy, and particularly in these weeks to confirm hundreds of our young people. I enjoy meeting the young candidates and their families and sponsors, and most importantly, serving as God’s instrument in the conferral of the grace of Confirmation. Bishop D’Arcy is also busy during these weeks celebrating Confirmation Masses in parishes throughout our diocese, for which I am deeply grateful.
The ordination I celebrated this past Saturday was my first ordination of a Holy Cross priest, Father Matthew Kuczora. I ordained this fine young man a deacon last August. Since then, he has been serving as a missionary in a Holy Cross parish in Mexico. The ordination liturgy in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame was truly beautiful. I believe there were about 100 Holy Cross priests who concelebrated and laid hands on the newly ordained. At the end of the Mass, I joked about an error in the liturgical program which had the initials “C.S.C.” after my name — indicating that I was a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross! I told them I was ready to take the vows! How blessed our diocese is by the presence and ministry of so many members of this religious congregation, founded by Blessed Basil Moreau, whom we pray will soon be canonized a saint.
Newly ordained Father Matthew Kuczora will return to Mexico to begin his priestly ministry at the parish where he served as a deacon: Nuestra Madre Santísima de la Luz Parish in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. He is much loved by the people there. A few members of the parish were able to come for the ordination on Saturday and shared with me how happy and grateful they are for the gift of this fine young priest and for the ministry of the Holy Cross priests there. As you may know, the U.S. Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross serves missions in Mexico, Chile, Peru, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
May the Lord bless the Congregation of Holy Cross with many more solid and strong vocations!
I titled this column “the masterworks of God,” an expression used in the Catechism to refer to the seven sacraments. “They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in Christ’s Body, the Church” (CCC 1116). As I travel throughout the diocese these days celebrating the Eucharist, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, and also other sacraments on various occasions, I see and experience the Holy Spirit at work. I am often filled with wonder, awe, and gratitude at these masterworks of God, gifts of Christ to His Church, to sanctify us and to strengthen us with His grace. God meets us in every sacrament and communicates His love to us. We are blessed as Catholics to have received from the Lord the full sacramental life. The sacraments are indeed the masterworks of God! They confer the grace they signify. They are efficacious. Christ is at work through the Holy Spirit. Of course, the fruits of the sacraments in our lives depend also on our openness to receive the grace Our Lord bestows upon us in the sacraments.
As we prepare for the Year of Faith, let us be renewed in our appreciation of the masterworks of God in the new and everlasting covenant: the seven sacraments, instituted by Christ and entrusted to His Church. And let us celebrate the sacraments with faith, reverence, and devotion, giving glory and praise to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!