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 | Bishop Thomas A. Daly

Called by Christ

The Christian life is at its root a response to God’s work. In the beginning, God created us; He loved us into existence. Born as a helpless infant, in His Incarnation He united His life with ours. In His cross, Jesus abandoned Himself to the worst that humanity could throw at Him, all for the love of us. In His resurrection, He has given us hope of eternal life.

How do we respond to a God who so graciously gives of Himself? Theologians tell us that even our good works are prompted by His grace. We bring to completion the good work He begins in us. In response to Christ’s saving work, we are called to be faithful to God’s will. So often, His will is hard to discern. What does it mean to be faithful to God’s will? Jesus founded the Church to provide us with shepherds who can guide us to Him. Our Catholic tradition offers us five precepts, or commandments of Christian life.

While we often view these commands as duties, I challenge you to see them as opportunities to respond to God’s grace, love and mercy.

1. Catholics must attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.

We are Called by Christ to be close to Him and to make time away from work and our busy lives to rest with Christ at Mass and draw closer to Our Father in heaven. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father.” (Jn 14:6-7)

2. Catholics must confess their sins at least once a year.

We are Called by Christ to trust Him with our sins and seek out His mercy. Jesus desires to meet us in confession, and, through the words of absolution, forgive our sins. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love He had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ.” (Eph 2:4-5)

3. Catholics must receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least once during the Easter season.

We are Called by Christ to welcome Him – body, blood, soul and divinity – into our lives. At Mass, we offer ourselves to God, and God returns to us Himself, present in the Eucharist. We give Him our brokenness, our struggles, and He gives us everything. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (Jn 6:35)

4. Catholics must observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.

We are Called by Christ to discipline ourselves in our prayer life and to take up those practices that, like the discipline of an athlete, will bring us closer to our goal. The required days of fasting and abstinence remind us that we are not made for bodily pleasure but for eternal happiness with God. We are called to turn down good things like food for the sake of the higher good of union with God. “It is written ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’” (Mt 4:4)

5. Catholics must help to provide for the needs of the Church

We are Called by Christ to support the Church’s work. Through the Church, we receive the sacraments. Through the Church, we receive instruction in our faith. Through the Church, we receive Christ. The Church also calls us to evangelize; in fact, we have the responsibility to spread the Gospel. Jesus commanded us to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mk 16:15-16) We are called to support the Church in this great work: sanctifying the world and bringing all to Jesus Christ.

During this fall season, I want to call special attention to the opportunity we all have to support our local Church through the Annual Catholic Appeal. Through this collection, young people are evangelized in our schools, in sacramental preparation classes and on college campuses. You support retired priests in their old age and educate our future priests. You support our work of visiting the imprisoned and consoling the infirm. Please join me in responding to Christ’s Call to further the Good News and to draw ever closer to Him, to love Him and to let His mercy lead you to heaven.

Please pray for me and know you are in my prayers.