Dear Friends in Christ,

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Where charity and love prevail, there God is ever found.

The words of this hymn, based on 1 John 4:16, have been on my mind lately as I reflect on our parishes continuing to find their way through the many challenges of the present moment. So often these days, we tend to see a world in crisis that both questions God’s existence and lacks actions and attitudes of charity and love. Amidst the trials we are facing, we are challenged to embrace anew our Church’s mission to proclaim God as real and present in a doubtful world.

Each member of the Church must answer the call to be charitable and loving. If we as Church cannot demonstrate charity and reflect God’s love to one another, we cannot expect our families, friends, and neighbors to discover and believe in God. The world around us will see us as hypocrites, proclaiming one thing but embodying something completely different.

We have found both success and disappointment in the expression of charity and love as our parishes have navigated re-opening in the continuing pandemic. In some parishes, volunteers have stepped forward with eagerness, assisting their fellow parishioners to safely gather in church and once again find sustenance in the Eucharist. Knowing that their acts of charity of love provide comfort to others, many volunteers have helped to create an environment of support and care.

However, we have also seen examples of a lack of charity and love. Some of us have chosen to politicize the situation we are in, putting the focus on our differing opinions and divided viewpoints. Rather than creating an environment in our Church that is welcoming and focused on greater communion, our words and actions have served at times to drive a wedge between us and have created an environment of tension and discomfort.

The image of Jesus at the Last Supper exemplifies most powerfully the charity and love we are called to put into practice. In the washing of his disciples’ feet, Jesus teaches us that charity must be focused not on ourselves but on the humble service we offer to others. We are asked to set aside our own needs, wants, and expectations and surrender ourselves in loving support of our neighbor, a concept that goes completely contrary to the ways of our world these days.

In the English-language version of the hymn, we find the powerful lyric, “let strife among us be unknown, let all contention cease; be His the glory that we seek, be ours His holy peace.” Focused on Christ and with words and actions reflecting the peace and love of our Savior, we not only will present to one another a true expression of charity, we will also reveal to the world the image of our loving and omnipresent God.

Charity and love are crucial as we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic. Charity and love are essential as we continue to address the sins that plague our society. May charity and love prevail in our parishes, homes, and communities so that more people may come to find God and offer worship to the One who seeks to support and sustain us through the joys and sorrows of life.

Yours in Christ,
Bishop Robert Casey