A Call to Action: DECLINE TO SIGN

A Call to Action: DECLINE TO SIGN

January 22 is the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, marking the 1973 Supreme Court decision that struck down a Texas statute banning abortion, and thus legalizing the procedure across the United States. All of us are aware of the 2022 Dobbs Decision by the Supreme Court which reversed the 1973 ruling, stating that the right to an abortion is not a constitutional right. That decision returned to the state level the issue of legalizing abortion. 

So where does that leave us today? Powerful abortion forces with unlimited finances and influence are targeting states like Missouri to try to overturn our laws protecting human life. Through a ballot initiative and signature collection, they are attempting to codify the right to abortion in our State Constitution. I ask that you DECLINE TO SIGN

In a letter dated Dec. 11, 2023, the Missouri Bishops stated, “Though several initiatives are being contemplated and none have yet to be finalized for the November 2024 ballot, we encourage all Catholics and people of goodwill to safeguard as much as possible the fundamental principle of the right to life. We also support efforts that seek to reduce or eliminate the underlying social causes for abortion by expanding care and resources available to mothers. Even with legal protections for the unborn, as we have in our state today, more can still be done to build a culture of life.” 

If these petition initiatives do materialize, they could have different titles, all trying to get you to support abortion under such jargon as “women’s rights,” or “women’s health care,” or “women’s reproductive rights,” while avoiding the use of the word “abortion.” Whatever title the proposals may take, the end goal is the same – to legalize abortion. Remember, simply put – DECLINE TO SIGN.
Some of these proposals include the elimination of Parental Consent laws, allowances for partial-birth and late-term abortions on demand, the elimination of health and safety standards so that anyone could perform abortions without a healthcare license and taxpayer-funded abortion would become legal. These national efforts have been successful in Minnesota, Ohio, and Kansas, and are now amping up in Missouri. In the coming days, I will be meeting with the Vitae Foundation, Missouri Right to Life, and others to outline an appropriate strategy to counter the efforts of these out-of-state influences with their financial resources. One thing we can do – DECLINE TO SIGN

JAN. 22 DAY OF PRAYER
To mark the January 22 Day of Prayer, I will offer Holy Mass and the Rosary in St. Agnes Cathedral, 5:30 p.m., on Mon., January 22. Similarly, I will celebrate Holy Mass and the Rosary in St. Mary Cathedral, 5:15 p.m., on Fri., January 26. Pope St. John Paul II said so eloquently, “A great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family, and from the heart of every believer” (“Evangelium Vitae,” [“The Gospel of Life,”]). I invite everyone to attend and help pray for the conversion of those in the abortion industry and for a true realization of a culture of life! 

And, as part of the “new initiatives” called for by St. John Paul II, I will celebrate Holy Mass on Fri., April 19, followed by the Dedication and Blessing of the much-anticipated LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home and AfterCare Program in Cape Girardeau. This will truly make a difference in walking with “moms in need,” by increasing support for pregnant and parenting mothers. I often challenge those who criticize the pro-life movement, saying that we only care about the child at birth and do nothing after birth, to visit LifeHouse and see the programs that are offered, accompanying women for up to two years, in Springfield and now in Cape Girardeau. And remember, DECLINE TO SIGN! 

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”

 

Published in the January 19, 2024 issue of The Mirror.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

May the Year 2024 be annus mirabilis

May the Year 2024 be annus mirabilis

As we continue with the Eucharist Revival throughout the United States, hopefully each one of us is being challenged in our attitude and our understanding of the unique treasure the Eucharist is in the midst of the Church.
Every year a list goes out to the pastors assigning a date to each parish for an Annual Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament which may be found on pp. 6-7 of this issue. The Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church, Canon 942 states, “It is recommended that in these churches and oratories an annual Solemn Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament be held for an appropriate period of time.” The traditional three[1]day celebration is referred to as “40 hours,” but if that is not possible, at least one day of Adoration from morning until night should be held, ending with Mass or Benediction.

Extended Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament requires organizing adorers who will give themselves the gift of an hour (or more) of time before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I was recently having a conversation where I recalled my time as head of the Adoration Committee for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Archbishop Rigali wanted Adoration offered in every parish every week, whether it be a simple holy hour or a 24/7 chapel, whatever the parish could do. And it was then that I came to realize that our most precious commodity is not our money, but rather our time. If I were a missionary asking for a donation, people could donate and be done with it. But asking for an hour of someone’s time was like pulling teeth. And yet, when one gives oneself the gift of an hour before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, it becomes contagious! People look forward to their time alone with the Lord, they hunger for it, a desire grows for the silent presence with Our Lord and the Blessed Sacrament.

IMPORTANCE OF THE MASS FOR A CATHOLIC
I know that many of our parishes follow the schedule for Solemn Adoration but possibly the pastor could use your help to organize adoration volunteers. Fr. Pius Parsch, who wrote amongst other things the four-volume commentary on the liturgy reflected:

Whoever intends to live with the church must make the Holy Eucharist the primary concern of his or her life. But they can accomplish this only by participating as actively as possible with the priest in offering the sacrifice and by receiving Holy Communion as part of the sacrificial banquet.”

That statement, I believe, would be the beautiful impetus for a Eucharistic Revival not just in our diocese, but throughout the Church. It implies a two-fold understanding of the importance of the Mass in the life of a Catholic.
First, the Eucharist should be the primary concern of life because it is the greatest act of worship. In the Mass, we offer the Spotless Victim to the Father. In the Mass, we are in union with Christ who offers to God his life, and to the extent that each one of us unites ourselves with that offering, we receive the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice. In other words, what on earth is more important than the Mass? Second, in receiving Holy Communion, we receive the Body and Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus himself. There is no greater way to be united with Our Lord than receiving him in Holy Communion. But to receive worthily, fruitfully, one must examine him- or herself spiritually before coming to the Eucharist and if aware of mortal sin, they should receive the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion. I am mindful of the quiet prayer the priest offers just before receiving Holy Communion, “May the receiving of your Body and Blood, Lord Jesus Christ, not bring me to judgment and condemnation …” It is a daily reminder for the priest (and bishop) that he, too, must be in a “state of grace” to offer Mass and receive Holy Communion worthily. If not, it leads to sacrilege and spiritual condemnation.
In 1992, after a fire in the royal palace and much family drama, the late Queen Elizabeth described the year as a “annus horribilis,” a horrible year. As we enter into 2024, let our focus on the Eucharist set the tone for a “annus mirabilis,” a wonderful, remarkable year, as we appreciate and grow in our love for Christ in the Eucharist. In the words of Pope St. John Paul II, “May our adoration never cease.”

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”

Happy New Year to all and be assured of my prayers for a blessed new year of growing in holiness, becoming intentional disciples, and being sent to witness to the faith!

Published in the January 05, 2024 issue of The Mirror.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Join Bishop Rice for First Friday Mass for Vocations 2024

Join Bishop Rice for First Friday Mass for Vocations 2024

Join Bishop Rice on the First Friday of each month to pray for an increase in Vocations to the Priesthood and religious life in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

The Rosary will be prayed following the liturgy on the following dates and at the following locations:

 

Fri., April 05—St. John Henry Newman Center, Cape Girardeau, 12-Noon

Fri., May 03—St. Agnes School Mass, Springfield, 8:30 a.m.

Fri., June 07—Mercy Conference and Retreat Center, St. Louis

Fri., July 05—O’Reilly Catholic Student Center, Springfield, 10 a.m.

Fri., Aug. 02—St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Joplin, 9:30 a.m.;
Mercy Hospital, Joplin, 12-Noon

Fri., Sept. 06—St. Eustachius School Mass, 10:30 a.m.

Fri., Oct. 04—TBA

Fri., Nov. 01—St. Mary Cathedral, Cape Girardeau, 5:15 p.m.

Fri., Dec. 06—St. Agnes Cathedral, Springfield, 5:30 p.m.

Declaration Remains Firm on the Doctrine of the Church

Declaration Remains Firm on the Doctrine of the Church

The following letter was issued by Bishop Rice to all clergy of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau on Dec. 21, 2023. He wanted to issue it to all the Faithful as well, as his column in this issue of the diocesan newspaper:

Dear Bishop, Monsignors, Fathers, and Deacons,
The recent release of“Fiducia Supplicans,”(“Supplicating Trust”), has led the media to report erroneous headlines regarding the blessing of same-sex unions. To that end, I want to write directly to all the clergy of the diocese, offering an insight into this document.
For those who have read it, I identified 17 direct or indirect affirmations of the traditional understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage as between a man and a woman. I think this is so important to clarify that I am going to outline my references.
Beginning in the Declaration by Victor Manuel Cardinal Fernandez, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, His Eminence states, “This declaration remains firm on the traditional doctrine of the Church about marriage, not allowing any type of liturgical rite or blessing similar to a liturgical rite that can create confusion. (1) Any blessing would not “officially validate their status or change(ing) in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage.”(2)
Paragraph three of the Introduction recognizes, “the document and its consistency with the Church’s perennial teaching.” (3) Paragraph 4 states, “it is a matter of avoiding that ‘something that is not marriage is being recognized as marriage.’”(4) “Therefore, rites and prayers that could create confusion between what constitutes marriage— which is the “exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally opened to the generation of children”—and what contradicts it are inadmissible”(5). This conviction is grounded in the perennial Catholic doctrine of marriage; It is only in this context that sexual relations find their natural, proper, and fully human meaning. The Church’s doctrine on this point remains firm.” (6)
It is also the “understanding of marriage that is offered by the Gospel… (7) The Church does not have the power to impart blessings on unions of persons of the same sex.” (8) Further, “the blessing given by the ordained minister is tied directly to the specific union of a man and a woman, who establish an exclusive and indissoluble covenant by their consent.”(9) This fact allows us to highlight the risk of confusing a blessing given to any other union with the right that is proper to the Sacrament of Marriage.”(10) Further, “A blessing requires that what is blessed be conformed to God’s will, as expressed in the teachings of the Church”(11) …such a blessing should “not convey an erroneous conception of marriage.”(12) Paragraph 30 highlights the need to avoid “all serious forms of scandal and confusion among the faithful … although in a (civil) union that cannot be compared in any way to marriage.”(13)
Finally, paragraphs 31-39, are clear that a blessing should “avoid producing confusion with the blessing proper to the Sacrament of Marriage,(14) should not become a liturgical or semi-liturgical act,(15) neither provide for nor promote a ritual for the blessing of couples in an irregular situation,(16) and to avoid any form of confusion or scandal … never imparted in concurrence with the ceremony of a civil union and not even in connection with them: clothing, gestures, words proper to a wedding.”(17)
With so many affirmations of traditional, sacramental marriage between a man and a woman, why the outrageous headlines? Well, you can blame it on sloppy journalism and “click bait” sensationalism. The Holy Father is asking for a “fatherly and pastoral approach” and compares the blessing to the use of “sacramentals.” “The request for a blessing, thus, expresses and nurtures openness to the transcendence, mercy, and closeness to God,”(18) the “desire to entrust themselves to the Lord and his mercy, to invoke his help, and to be guided to a greater understanding of his plan of love and of truth.”(19) However, being pastoral can sometimes be sloppy, confusing.

Twice, the phrase, “faithful people of God,” is used in the document. I assume that such faithful people of God desire to live according to the Church’s moral law. Whether one is heterosexual or homosexual, in the confessional we hear of the struggles people have regarding chastity and when one expresses sorrow for sin and the desire to sin no more, we offer the mercy of God through absolution. The question is whether a “same sex couple” who are “faithful people of God,” would identify themselves to a priest and ask for a blessing? Paragraph 31 is important here. “These forms of blessings express a supplication that God may grant those aids that come from the impulses of his Spirit—what classical theology calls, “actual grace”—so that human relationships may mature and grow in fidelity to the Gospel; that they may be freed from their imperfections and frailties, and that they may express themselves in an ever increasing dimension of the divine love.”(20)

Is that what a couple would intend when they would come up and ask for a blessing from a priest or deacon? Are they asking that their imperfections and frailties mature and grow in fidelity to the Gospel? Paragraph 40 further states, “there is no intention to legitimize anything, but rather to open one’s life to God, to ask for his help to live better, and also to invoke the Holy Spirit so that the values of the Gospel may be lived with greater faithfulness.”(21) Again, the question is whether that is the intention of a couple who would ask for a blessing or are they simply looking for some type of validation of their lifestyle? Any blessing requested would be spontaneous, non-liturgical with a simple gesture, asking the Lord to help the people to “live better.”
The document rightly states, “The Church is thus the sacrament of God’s infinite love. Therefore, even when a person’s relationship with God is clouded by sin, he can always ask for a blessing …”(22) In addition, such a request “is an opportunity for a renewed proclamation of the kerygma, an invitation to draw ever closer to the love of Christ.”(23)
In the days and weeks to come, many more will weigh in on the consequences of this document. For now, let us be at peace and convey to our people that the Sacrament of Marriage within the Church and our teachings regarding sexuality remain unchanged.

+The Most Rev. Edward M. Rice

Fiducia Supplicans” may be viewed in its entirety by searching its title at https:// www.vatican.va. A news story on the release of “Fiducia Supplicans,” may be found on p. 4 of this issue of The Mirror.

[1] Fernandez, Victor Manuel Cardinal, Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration: “Fiducia Supplicans” (“Supplicating Trust”), On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings; Presentation, par. 3 (18 December 2023).
[2] Ibid., par. 4.
[3] Fernandez, Victor Manuel Cardinal; Matteo, Armando Monsignor; Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration: “Fiducia Supplicans” (“Supplicating Trust”), On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings; Introduction, par. 3 (18 December 2023).
[4] Ibid., par. 4. [5] Ibid., par. 4. [6] Ibid., par. 4. [7] Ibid., par. 5. [8] Ibid., par. 5. [9] Ibid., par. 6. [10] Ibid., par. 6. [11] Ibid., par. 9. [12] Ibid., par. 26. [13] Ibid., par. 30. [14] Ibid., par. 31. [15] Ibid., par. 36. [16] Ibid., par. 38. [17] Ibid., par. 39. [18] Ibid., par. 33. [19] Ibid., par. 30. [20] Ibid., par. 31. [21] Ibid., par. 40. [22] Ibid., par. 43. [23] Ibid., par.44.

Published in the December 22, 2023 issue of The Mirror.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sacred Heart Pilgrimage Challenge

Sacred Heart Pilgrimage Challenge

Dear Faithful of Springfield-Cape Girardeau,

This coming December 27, 2023 will mark the 350th anniversary of the revelation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. As pastors and associate pastors, I encourage you to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a longstanding devotion rooted in John 19: 33-34: “But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out.” I am sure you have that powerful verse from the Preface of the Sacred Heart memorized, “For raised up high on the Cross, He gave Himself up for us with a wonderful love and poured out blood and water from His pierced side, the well-spring of the Church’s Sacraments…”
The Diocese of Springfield- Cape Girardeau is blessed with 12 parishes named in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. During the 350th anniversary, which begins on the date of the first apparition, December 27, and will conclude next year on December 27, 2024, I encourage all Catholics to grow in their devotion and love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On the diocesan Website you will find a collection of time-honored prayers and resources to encourage and enhance your devotion: https:// dioscg.org/sacred-heart-pilgrimage/ .

Additionally, I am encouraging the faithful to make a “pilgrimage” to each of the 12 parishes. The staff of the Office of Communications has created a kit for the 12 parishes which includes a stamp, prayers to pray during your visit and Sacred Heart devotionals. A ”passport” can be easily downloaded from the Website for this purpose or it may be clipped from The Mirror; with each visit, pilgrims can stamp the “passport” of the particular parish they are visiting. Once the 12- parish pilgrimage is completed, they simply mail the passport to the Office of the Bishop and I will send them a gift, along with a certificate of completion.

I am grateful for the cooperation and hospitality of our 12 Sacred Heart parishes. I am also grateful for the support of all the clergy in promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let us remember that one of the 12 promises of the Sacred Heart, is of particular importance for priests in the confessional: “I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.” (10) “Jesus, meek and humble of hearts, make my heart like unto Thine. ”

Sincerely yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Edward M. Rice
Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau

 

Published in the November 24, 2023 issue of The Mirror.

 

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