The Christian Life

Bishop releases latest installment of Grace & Peace 

On June 20, Bishop Raica recorded the 51st episode of his video series, Grace & Peace. The complete text of the bishop’s remarks follows herein.

My sisters and brothers, grace and peace to each of you. This past weekend, I welcomed the Eucharistic pilgrim procession to the Diocese of Birmingham. The procession consisted of a delegation of pilgrims, along with people from around our diocese and neighboring states. A welcome Mass and related events occurred at Prince of Peace Parish in Hoover. The procession is following the St. Juan Diego route. Having begun in Brownsville, Texas, last month, it will culminate in mid-July in Indianapolis for our National Eucharistic Congress. Appropriately, a further stop occurred at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Hanceville accompanied by prayer, reflection, and refreshment.

The Eucharistic Revival is calling each of us to reflect more seriously on living out our Christian life. What does it mean to be a Christian? How does a Christian live the new way of life that is entrusted to him or her? As Christians, our lives are firmly grounded in the person of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Here is my brief reflection on the Christian life.

This month, I commemorate my 10th anniversary of receiving the call from the Apostolic Nuncio that Pope Francis had named me a bishop. I vividly remember that day. Along with some of the prayerful reflection that occurred in my own life, the second reading in the Office of Readings was a portion of St. Ignatius’ Letter to the Romans in the second century. He made a crucial point of noting how important it was for him to be a Christian, that is someone who belongs to Christ. It was Jesus as the core of one's life. St. Ignatius also noted that he wanted not just to believe and be a Christian, but to prove himself to be one, that is to live his life as a Christian. And, indeed, he did, becoming a martyr in the Roman Coliseum. While most of us will not demonstrate a supreme act of faith through martyrdom, living out our faith can become a key factor of witnessing God's call.

We are grateful because of the blessings we have received in our Catholic faith, and, in particular, we are blessed because of our own personal pilgrimage of growing in the life of Christ. It began with baptism. It was strengthened further when we received our first Holy Communion and confession, along with the sacrament of confirmation. Our vocational life was fortified in the sacrament of matrimony or holy orders. And, finally, we were strengthened by the anointing of the sick, which bound us more closely to the healing and salvation won for us in Christ.

Perhaps what guides me during these months, especially as we prepare to participate in the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, is the same challenge of St. Ignatius. I adopted in my own life as a guiding principle to keep me close to our Lord.

Not only do I want to be a Christian, but I want also to live my life as a Christian, firmly grounded in the center and core of our faith, and thus prove that I am a believer to others. For those who are attending the congress in Indianapolis this summer, I look forward to seeing you there. If you are celebrating the Eucharistic Revival in your own parish through parochial or diocesan activities or activities at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, I commend you. And if you are looking for some way to renew your Eucharistic faith, I urge you to visit one of our many churches, adoration chapels, St. Bernard Abbey, and the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Simply ask our Lord, “I am truly grateful for the call to be a Christian. How can I not only be a Christian but prove myself to be one?”

Don't worry! The Lord will provide you with a clear answer. May God bless you during the summertime of rest and renewal with family and friends.