My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Once again, we are celebrating Respect Life Month together with all our brothers and sisters throughout the Church in the United States, who are invoking the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to guide our country and our world in upholding the right to life of every person. For so many years now, I have given homilies and written articles on this subject. And yet, the attacks against human life continue and, in some cases, greatly have escalated, particularly here in Rochester. Increasingly aggressive legislation threatening the unborn child; violence, anger, hatred, prejudices and global inhuman attacks are now among the many threats to human existence. Naturally, it can cause one to grow quite weary and disenchanted. But then I reflect back upon the many pro-life efforts in our Diocese and the faithful’s outreach to people in crisis. So, indeed, I am encouraged and thank God for your generous response to our sisters and brothers who look to us for assistance.
This month also is designated as the Month of the Most Holy Rosary and is beautifully intertwined with this same month extolling God’s gift of human life and the dignity of every person made in the image and likeness of God Himself. By her fiat, Thy will be done, Mary allows the Word to become flesh; her yes to life sets in motion the marvel of Christ’s Incarnation.
These commemorations provide an impressive setting as the Church throughout the world begins her preparations for the Synod of Bishops beginning this October 2021 through October 2023 with the theme: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.” Beginning in the first phase with local consultations, the Synod then will proceed to a continental phase, and finally conclude with an Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2023. From its theme, we understand that Jesus Christ is “the absolute protagonist who takes the initiative, sowing the words and signs of the coming of the Kingdom without ‘showing partiality’ (cf. Acts 10:34)” (Preparatory Document, p. 20). Once we have come to truly know, love and bond with Jesus, we appreciate the call of every baptized person to participate in His life, which culminates in Eucharistic Communion, which then embraces the mission: the Christian service so wholeheartedly given, accompanied by the invitation extended to all people, especially the poor, the suffering, the outcast, the forgotten, the refugee fleeing from persecution and those estranged from our communities, to encounter the Risen Christ, visible in the Most Holy Eucharist, to hear His voice in Holy Scripture, and to experience His love through their sisters and brothers in the family of God.
Already I am meeting with our diocesan offices to develop a plan for consultation with the faithful as has been conducted for other Synod preparations over the years. As these plans unfold, information is being and will be provided to our parishes and institutions. This initiative also is so beautifully supported by and related to the Eucharistic Revival taking place in all dioceses throughout the United States from July 2022 to December 2024. “The goal of this three-year plan is to rekindle a Eucharistic love and a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ by embracing the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness of His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist” (Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, May 3, 2021). In my August column I wrote extensively on “this most august sacrament” (Lumen Gentium 11).
“May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles and Mother of the Church, intercede for us as we journey together on the path that God sets before us. As in the Upper Room at Pentecost, may her maternal care and intercession accompany us as we build up our communion with one another and carry out our mission in the world. With her, we say together as the People of God: ‘Let it be with me according to your word’ (Luke 1:38)” (Vademecum for the Synod on Synodality, Concluding Paragraph [unnumbered]).
Invoking the intercession of our diocesan patron, St. John Fisher, in all we do, I remain, with a continued assurance of my prayers,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester