Bridging the Gap

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At the end of the televised political ad for president — usually after ripping apart the opponent — the candidates let us know that they reviewed the content and signed off on it.

“I’m Donald Trump and I approve this message.”

“I’m Hillary Clinton and I approve this message.”

I have this mental image of both candidates locked in a room reviewing message after message in front of a big-screen TV. And I like to also think that after too much viewing, they might get just as upset as most of us are at the conflicting rants.

If we were brought up Catholic, we have the memory of at least one person — outside of family — who taught us the faith. Maybe that person drilled us in the catechism questions and answers. Or made sure that we understood the different parts of the Mass and the correct responses. Or that we knew our prayers and could begin and end them: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

It’s amazing to me how, oftentimes unexpectedly, we get the nudge to travel down memory lane. And as I go deeper into my senior years, those journeys become more frequent.

For most of our students, the school year has begun. Every year, I receive an invitation from our three Catholic colleges — Duquesne University, La Roche College and Carlow University — to mark the beginning of the academic year with a Mass of the Holy Spirit.

The following are excerpts from Bishop Zubik’s July 4 homily for the closing Mass of the Fortnight for Freedom at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. 

Many moons ago, when I taught seniors at Quigley Catholic High School in Baden, I developed a course titled “Christian Lifestyles.” It was a one-semester required course for those students in their last year of high school preparing for graduation.

When I was teaching at Quigley Catholic High School nearly four decades ago, I remember in one of our class discussions, one of my students asked: “If you could have lived at any time in the history of the world, what time might that be?” Besides living in the time of Jesus, my second clear choice was actually only 10 years before I was born. I have always been fascinated by the 1940s. So much of the history of the world at that time, and particularly the history of our own country, fascinates me.

No way to avoid it. We’ve got our work cut out for ourselves. On Mission for The Church Alive! is about as big as it gets. This is our diocesan-wide planning initiative in which I am inviting all Catholics — all our parishes, all our schools and all everything that is Catholic — to study how we can best spread the faith today and tomorrow in our changing world.

Our goals are just this:

• Deliberately coming to know Jesus more personally in our lives;

• Enthusiastically embracing our baptismal call to holiness;

It’s something I never expected in my life. Yet here I am, a guy from a small town in Beaver County, Ambridge, and I have a Supreme Court case named after me. It is formally called “Zubik vs. Burwell,” and the Supreme Court will hear the oral arguments this Wednesday — Wednesday of Holy Week, March 23.

Anyone who has played the game of Trivial Pursuit might be faced with identifying the quote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” For any student of literature, one will immediately recognize it as coming from the pen of Charles Dickens in his great work, “A Tale of Two Cities.”

In my own prayer over the last couple of weeks, Dickens’ quote has repeatedly come back to my mind and soul: “It (is) the best of times, it (is) the worst of times.”

It had to happen. This has been one long and a little bit crazy political campaign. Something was bound to happen to bring the church into the fray front and center.

As you are probably well aware, on Feb. 17 Pope Francis was holding his customary in-flight news conference as he headed back to Rome at the end of his six-day trip to Mexico. The papal trip had just concluded with a Mass celebrated just yards from the U.S.-Mexican border.

In what has become a tradition on the weekend just before Ash Wednesday, a special issue of the Pittsburgh Catholic is mailed directly to your home. This is a gift from your neighborhood parish.

By Bishop David A. Zubik

Part 17 of a weekly series.

God gives each of us certain gifts and talents. These gifts and talents, many of which help to define us outwardly, are a reflection of what is within us — our soul, heart and mind, our very idea of self.

One of the gifts God has not given me is an athletic ability. I recognized that at a very early age. That is virtually true in almost every sport: football, baseball, basketball, tennis, swimming. Save for one — running.

It’s been three weeks since we celebrated the feast of Christmas. It’s been two weeks since we celebrated New Year’s Day.

I suspect by this time most Christmas trees have been taken down. The decorations have been packed away for next year. All the greeting cards have been read. Many of the gifts have been returned or re-gifted. And our memory banks have been enriched.

Now what? Now what of it all? Now what’s next?

The question on my mind, and one that I pose to each of you is: What was your celebration of Christmas all about?

This week’s issue of the Pittsburgh Catholic is being mailed directly to your home through the kindness and generosity of your neighborhood parish. Consider this an early Christmas gift!

If you don’t see our newspaper very often, please read it and enjoy. We are proud to say that we have been around since 1844 and we are the largest-circulated weekly Catholic newspaper in the United States (and the largest weekly circulated newspaper in western Pennsylvania). We are available every week at your local Catholic parish.

This past weekend, I returned home after making my annual retreat — a whole week alone with Jesus (well, almost). Once again, Jesus directed me on the retreat through my spiritual director of 28 years — Capuchin Father Robert McCreary. (Many of you know Father Bob. He is originally from Beaver.)