Saturday, March 5, 2011

'For greater things we were born'

By Archbishop José H. Gomez

"For greater things we were born."

There are many matters on my heart as I begin my new ministry as your Archbishop.

But I keep coming back to these words from Ven. Maria Luisa Josefa de la Peña, the refugee from Mexico who founded our Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles.

I find her words express some of my deepest desires for my ministry.

I want to spread this simple and beautiful truth of the Gospel: That each of us is born from the love of God. That each of us is a child of God who belongs to the family of God, the Church. We are born to be saints — every one of us!

Since I came here last May, I've put a lot of miles on my car. I've traveled our great freeways to each of our 20 deaneries. I've been blessed to celebrate Mass with many of you, and to talk with you and get to know you.

I am eager to meet everyone. And I look forward to our friendships growing in the years to come.

My heart is truly in Los Angeles now. I am rooting for the Lakers! I feel at home here in this beautiful archdiocese, in this beautiful state. And I'm excited to begin my ministry.

I have five basic priorities as I begin my work. They are rooted in the priorities of Christ and his mission for the church. They are priorities that the United States bishops have identified for the Church in this country. They fit well, too, with our Archdiocesan Synod's goals of promoting faith education, sacramental life, social justice, evangelization, collegial leadership and greater a sense of responsibility in ministry.

My first priority is education in the faith. We need to know the Gospel. It is our light and our salvation. We need to know our Lord's words and how he lived. We need to know the teachings of his apostles and his church. We need especially to know the church's social teachings, so that we can live as faithful citizens.

I also want to promote vocations to the priesthood and the religious and consecrated life. Our church needs more men and women who can testify to the radical beauty of a life dedicated totally to Christ.

My third priority is to help us to see the beauty of the church's cultural diversity. The Catholic Church is meant to be a great multitude called from all nations, peoples and tongues. As Catholics, we need to break down the walls that divide us, every barrier that keeps us from being one family.

My fourth priority is that we proclaim to our society that life is sacred from conception to natural death. We must insist on the rights and dignity of the human person — born or unborn; young or old; sick or healthy; no matter where he comes from or what kind of documents he possesses.

Fifth and finally, we must defend and strengthen the natural institutions of marriage and the family based on the permanent and exclusive union of one man and one woman. We must insist that society respect the church's freedom to promote our belief that the family is the fundamental cell of civilization.

All five of these priorities are a means to an end.

The end is this: that our church proclaims the Gospel in all its power and truth to the men and women of our day.

That is what we are here for, each one of us. We are here to be saints and missionaries. We are here to bear witness to the greater things that Jesus promises to those who love him and live by his Word and his teachings.

I am humbled by the extraordinary works being done in our parishes and in all of our Catholic institutions. There are many needs and many problems — material and spiritual — here in Los Angeles and throughout California.

The church's works of mercy and justice must intensify. Every one of us must do our Christian duty to help the poor and the strangers in our midst.

In all our work, let us be animated by the "greater things" of the Gospel — the beauty of knowing Jesus Christ. Through our acts of love, little and big, we can help bring our brothers and sisters closer to God.

I ask your prayers for me this week as I begin my ministry. Please ask our good God to make me worthy of this beautiful task of serving the family of God here in Los Angeles.

I pray for you every day. And I ask the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe for you and your families this week.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is the newly-appointed archbishop of Los Angeles.

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