Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Red Mass, Custer's Last Stand, & the Diocese of Richmond

     In many ways, Bishop DiLorenzo’s sermon at the Red Mass held at St. Benedict Church Thursday evening, November 10, 2011, was a state of the union address for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond.  As is his tradition, Bishop DiLorenzo began his homily with a story from history.  He talked about how he’d not been satisfied as a young boy when he’d read about the outcome of Custer’s Last Stand.    
     Lieutenant Colonel George Custer and the Seventh Calvary were sent to force the large Indian army back to the reservations.  Bishop DiLorenzo talked about how Custer and the Seventh Calvary were sent into a situation they had no idea was going to overwhelm them just as the people of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond are sent into the culture of death, which can seem as if it will overpower us at times. 
     Catholics are faced with a number of issues that could ostensibly seem as though they are too great to be combatted. 
Treatment of the poor and immigrants, widespread abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, human trafficking, child abuse, pornography, the death penalty, the marginalization of persons with disabilities…are major concerns from mainstream society which we’re called to address.      
     Though it seems there are enemies on every side and the forces of darkness are looming large, we are called to go enter into and remain in the fray.  In a way, we are like the Seventh Cavalry;  our numbers seem small and our Biblical values unpopular, but we’re sent in to fight, and we go. 
     One thing that really struck me about the Bishop’s sermon is that he talked about how our bishops, priests, deacons, religious, marrieds, singles…are in the trenches, hard at work fighting against the culture of death, and the many ways it manifests itself. 
     We aren’t aware of the issues and plan to do something about it in the future.  We haven’t identified the attacks against life and stopped fighting, because we have been defeated in some past efforts.  Catholics in our Diocese and elsewhere have put on the armor of Christ and continue to engage in the battle to protect the sanctity and dignity of human life from conception to natural death. 
     Bishop DiLorenzo’s message was one of hope.  We may be fighting an uphill battle, one where the enemies seem to outnumber us, but we are holding the position of Truth, continuing the fight against darkness and evil, and we’re not surrendering. 
     Lord, please help us to continue the spiritual warfare that is necessary in order to spread the Good News, live out the Truth, and combat the forces of darkness, evil, and sin in our society.  Help us put on the armor of Christ.  Keep us focused on You, so that we may, through prayer and action, be transformed and thereby help bring about the transformation of the hearts and minds of those who have succumbed to the culture of death.  Amen. 
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