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Bishop makes two requests
Pray and commit fully to vocation

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In just two weeks, on Oct. 5, the Extraordinary Synod on the Family will begin in Rome. Pope Francis called this synod last year, to consider “Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the context of Evangelization.” More than 100 bishops, priests, religious and married couples will gather for this unique meeting. I urge you all to pray for the members of this two-week-long gathering, to be open to the working of the Holy Spirit and to each other, and to do the will of God in the church.

The preparations for this synod have gotten rather a lot of media attention, unfortunately focused especially on one narrow question, that of the possibility of readmitting divorced-and-remarried Catholics to Holy Communion (without an annulment or decree of nullity). Those who want the church to be less like Christ and more like the world have been pushing hard to create an expectation of change in the church’s teachings on this and other issues – as if the will of God were only someone’s opinion. We must not give too much attention to such ideas. The teachings of the church about these holy sacraments cannot and will not change.

Our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught, with absolute clarity, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery” (Lk 16:18; see also Mt 5:32, 19:9, Mk 10:11, I Cor 7:10-11). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus condemns adultery in no uncertain terms, teaching, “Whoever looks on a woman with lust, has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:28).

Adultery is so serious a violation of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, that even to indulge or fantasize in adulterous thoughts is a grave sin. Of course, our merciful Lord Jesus offers to all his perfect forgiveness and healing, as he did for the woman taken in adultery in John 8; but “Go and sin no more” (Jn 8:11) is also entirely clear about the need for repentance and conversion. There is no license in the Gospel to continue in the state of adultery. It is also important for us to acknowledge that those couples (and families) that suffer through a divorce need our prayers, understanding, support and compassion.

The question that the synod is gathering to ponder is not how to “get around” the clearly revealed will of God, but how to teach the members of the church to know it, love it, and follow it, in a way that helps us sinners to sin less, promotes worthy participation in the holy sacraments, strengthens families against the temptations and challenges of the world, and leads to effective living out of the gospel in the vocation to married life.

To do this well, the church must address clearly, even bluntly, the decline of marriage in our culture. The issues are not difficult to state: poor formation about what marriage is and how it should be lived; a culture steeped in pornography, promiscuity and contraception; materialism that holds the satisfaction of one’s own appetites and desires to be the highest good, and that dehumanizes other people into objects for satisfying those appetites; bad laws about marriage and divorce; a widespread callousness that encourages disrespect for others; a sense of entitlement that rejects any personal responsibility for problems, yet demands approval from others for one’s behavior; and so on.

But the heart of the problem is even more clear. For the most part, even in the church, the last three generations have not received the gospel teaching about marriage and sexuality. Speaking broadly, many of those who are now grandparents, parents and children have been formed by the culture, not by the Gospel; and therefore they increasingly accept the world’s claims that sex is not for marriage, that marriage is not for life, and that one’s life should not be affected by having sex in whatever way one chooses. The consequences of this failure have been disastrous as we can all see. But we must not lose hope. Instead, we must live as good Catholics and help others understand what we believe and why.

This is why the synod wants to consider all these questions “in the context of evangelization.” Christ does not want us to abandon what he taught us, but to do a better job of teaching it to future generations. Our failure to hand on the gospel in the areas of sexuality, marriage, and family life is brutally costly. The family is the “domestic church” (CCC #2685), and if family life is unhealthy, both the church and the world will also show the same symptoms of sickness (CCC #1603).

Over the coming month, then, we must all do two things with great devotion. First, as I urged already, we must pray, both for the Extraordinary Synod, and for the state of the married vocation. When we know of those who are having difficulties in their marriage, we must be committed to praying for them, by name if possible. If we are in a position of trust and asked to help, we can offer our personal witness, and also refer anyone to our Catholic Charities, who offer counseling services faithful to the gospel on all these issues. We must pray for our own family, as well, so that everyone can be more open and receptive to the healing graces which Christ constantly makes available to us in the church.

Second, as I have said before, we must recommit ourselves to live our vocation faithfully and joyfully, especially in the vocation to married life. The challenges and temptations in married life are many. The path of married couples is not easy. In this vocation, one certainly carries one’s share of the cross, and divorce often seems a simple and attractive solution. But the rewards of fidelity, both in spiritual and in worldly terms, are enormous.

In this vocation, as in every vocation, the more we are faithful, the more holy we will be. And holiness attracts. Evangelization proceeds on the faithful witness of holy men and women in every generation. The role of the church is always to help more people accept their vocation faithfully, live it out in true holiness and thus bring Christ and his mercy to others.

My prayers are with all of you and your families. May God continue to give us signs of his love and care, especially for any who are struggling.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

schedule

Bishop Nickless schedule for September 19-28

September 19 – Sioux City Volunteer Shift, 11 a.m., Bargain Center

September 21 – Sac City Project Andrew Dinner, 5:30 p.m., St. Mary Church

September 22-25 – Chicago Catholic Extension 2014 Mission Bishops’ Conference, Marriott Lincolnshire Hotel

September 26-27 – Sioux City Spiritual Retreat for Musicians, Cathedral of the Epiphany

September 27 – Early Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 5:30 p.m., Sacred Heart Church

September 28 – Fort Dodge Celebration of Mass with Youth Rally participants, 12:30 p.m., St. Edmond Catholic School

Schedule for Msgr. R. Mark Duchaine

September 28 – Emmetsburg Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 10:15 a.m., Holy Family Church

 

9-18-14: Bishop makes two requests: Pray and commit fully to vocation

9-4-14: The beauty of God's love

8-21-14: Bringing others into a rich, saving personal relationship with Jesus

8-7-24: Friendships with the saints

7-24-14: Seek Christ’s peace, justice

6-26-14: Thanks for priesthood, blessing of freedom

6-12-14: Pentecost offers an opportunity for transformation in our hearts

5-29-14: Holy Spirit does not come to visit us one day a year; he is always present

5-15-14: Celebrating mothers, Mary in May

4-17-14: Lenten pilgrimage reaches its end

4-3-14: Carry the cross: Lenten journey brings sacrifices, but don't sacrifice religious freedom

3-20-14: Live vocations joyfully, faithfully

3-6-14: Beginning the pilgrimage of Lent

2-20-14: Lent a time of preparation, renewal, rededication

2-6-14: Our Super Bowl goal is heaven

1-23-14: Striving to bring light and love of Jesus Christ to all

1-9-14: Ordinary time is anything but ordinary

12-19-13: Behold the saving power of the helpless infant

12-5-13: 'Put on Christ' more thoroughly this Advent

11-21-13: Year of Faith brings many blessings for diocese

11-7-13: No simple answer to complexity of HHS mandate

10-17-13: Preparing for our spiritual winters

10-3-13: Preaching the Gospel with whole lives

9-19-13: Work for peace in our own hearts

9-5-13: Church offers unique vision on subject of immigration

8-22-13:The Blessed Virgin Mary invites us to entrust her with daily concerns

7-25-13:Faith, example of Christ teach us daily duties have important spiritual benefits

7-11-13: Rule of St. Benedict: Vision built on foundation of prayer and work

6-27-13: Bishop says: If you do not witness faith consistently, you may lose it

6-13-13: Bishop encourages: 'Diligently seek Christ'

5-16-13: Spring brings Pentecost and graduations

5-2-13: Christ remains present to us through Catholic Church

4-4-13: Celebrating the Easter octave: Rejoicing in the risen Lord

3-21-13: Easter Blessings: Resurrection can transform the world

3-7-13: Faith and Hope: Pray for College of Cardinals, those entering the church

2-21-13: Lenten season: Time to be shaken out of regular routines

2-7-13: Lenten season: Use time to grow in faith, hope and love

1-24-13: Many special events slated for coming weeks

1-10-13: Year of Faith: Make time for prayer in the new year

12-20-12: The joyful anticipation of Christ’s birth

11-29-12: Preparing internally, externally during Advent

11-1-12: Path to holiness is simple and clear

10-18-12: Be willing to live and die as true followers of Christ

10-4-12: Strengthen and renew relationship with Jesus during Year of Faith

9-20-12: Gospel can heal, unify: divisions in culture and politics

8-23-12: Form consciences according to teachings of Christ

8-9-12: Stay strong in fidelity to vocation

7-26-12: All in need of continuing conversion and closeness to Christ

7-12-12: July closes Fortnight for Freedom, brings pastor changes

6-28-12: Bishop addresses important church and national topics

6-14-12: Give generously to Peter's Pence

5-31-12: Two ordinations and national campaign on agenda

5-17-12: Mary leads us to her son Jesus

4-19-12: Sharing Easter blessings and urging support of religious freedom

4-5-12: Easter Alleluia: Message spreads light, hope and joy

3-22-12: Back from Rome, work continues to stop HHS contraception mandate

3-8-12: Collection to Support Catholic relief agencies

2-23-12: Lenten Message: Turn to Jesus through prayer, fasting, good works

2-9-12: Time to rid life of Catholic compromises and deny temption of the devil

2-9-12: Lent: Time to build solidarity with the poor

1-26-12: Bishop addresses serious topics related to threats on life

1-26-12: Catholic schools teach faith, academics and service

1-12-12: All share common vocation to holiness

12-22-11: Supporting Catholic Charities

12-8-11: Advent: How our preparations poing to Christ

11-24-11: Advent prepares the faithful for the coming of Jesus

11-10-11: Making announcement as Bishop of Sioux City

10-27-11: Giving glory to God, honoring holy men and women

9-29-11: October brings various life issues to forefront

9-15-11: Holy Eucharist: Christ’s entire body, blood, soul, divinity present

9-1-11: Keehe sanctiping tty of marriage at the forefront

8-18-11: May new school year allow youth to grow in wisdom and grace

7-21-11: Reflections on appointment to diocese, generosity of people

6-23-11: Bishop answers questions about recent meeting

6-9-11: Summer brings a time of change, for better or worse

5-12-11: Wishing parishioners a joy-filled Easter season

4-14-11: Journey to Easter: Darkness makes way for new light

3-17-11: The promise of glory provides hope during Lent

3-3-11: Striving to live up to the promises of the Cross

2-3-11: The inestimable gift of the holy sacraments

1-20-11: Bishop celebrates five years of ministry in diocese

1-6-11: Vocations Awareness Week: Everyone has at least on clear vocation from God

12-16-10: Christmas joy: Our Lord among us

12-2-10: Advent season brings hope

11-4-10: November: Celebrating saints, praying for dead and giving thanks

10-21-10: Participate in election with Christ as guide

9-23-10: Catholic Charities Sunday set for Sept. 26

9-9-10: Hold firmly to precious gift of faith

8-12-10: Bishop addresses current issues: Immigration and same-sex marriage

7-15-10: Church can support couples in forming holy, happy marriages

7-1-10: Summer brings chance to rejuvenate body and spirituality

5-20-10: Practicing virtures of humility and modesty

5-6-10: Bishop Nickless reflects on joyous occasions, immigration

4-22-10: Bishop Nickless addresses sacramentals and indulgences

3-25-10: EASTER: The center of God's plan for salvation

3-11-10: Instill hearts with committed foundation for paschal joy

2-25-10: Bishop addresses vocations, marriage life issues and health care

2-11-10: LENT: Special time to wean lives of sin

1-28-10: Grasping meaning of suffering creates source of hope

1-14-10: Bishop addresses social and faith issues

11-20-08: Bishop gives thanks for blessings

11-13-08: Give thanks for God’s blessings

11-6-08: Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran, bishops to meet in Baltimore

10-30-08: Called to die to self, live only in Christ

10-23-08: Belonging to God and what that means

10-16-08: Church continues mission of Christ by rejecting culture of death

10-9-08: October - a busy month

10-2-08: Life is a gift of God's love

9-18-08: The Word of God in life and mission of church

9-11-08: Thoughts on life issues and faith education

9-4-08: VOTING: Understanding the issues at stake

 

 

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