A Message from the Bishop – Mercy is the medicine for a divided world

A Message from the Bishop – Mercy is the medicine for a divided world
Five votive candles burn in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Camden, in memory of the five police officers who were killed by snipers at a demonstration in Dallas to protest the police killing of black men in Baton Rouge, La., and a suburb of St. Paul, Minn. To the left of the five, a single white candle burns in memory of all who have been killed by violence. Photo by James A. McBride

Five votive candles burn in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Camden, in memory of the five police officers who were killed by snipers at a demonstration in Dallas to protest the police killing of black men in Baton Rouge, La., and a suburb of St. Paul, Minn. To the left of the five, a single white candle burns in memory of all who have been killed by violence.
Photo by James A. McBride

This summer has seen a steady march of violence and acts of hatred across the globe, including our own country. We have been shocked and horrified by what has taken place. We pray that God take into His care the immortal souls of the victims of violence and hatred and we commend their loved ones to Him. We entrust to the Lord those women and men in uniform who defend and protect us at home and abroad. May they be safe.

For some this seemingly constant barrage of conflict may begin to wear away our empathy, our compassion and our hope. Are we expected to have an everlasting capacity for grieving? Truthfully, yes. As human beings we will always need to be prepared to face tragedy which is impossible to avoid. Accepting tragedy as part of human existence is the first step in making sure we are prepared to endure it. Yes, the joys of life are accompanied by suffering.

Mercy is the medicine for a divided world and for a society torn apart by divisions and grief. It is also the medicine for our own hearts, the salve God pours over our wounds if we allow Him. Mercy reminds us that we are loved, we can love, and that love will heal the world. As we have been forgiven, so let us forgive; as the Father has shown us mercy, we are called to be mercy for others.

Mercy is lived out daily in the small acts of goodness, fidelity, and charity performed by ordinary people. In these dark days, I encourage you to remember that despite all the tragedies we see splashed across our newspapers, TVs, and smartphones, there are far more acts of grace, hope, joy and mercy that take place daily. We see tragedy played out in the media, but kindness and compassion which also surround us are not the “stuff” that gets the attention of the media. Take time to reflect on those daily Godly acts that often go unnoticed, but that are our souls’ fuel in times that seem so dark.

There are many ways in which we can help ourselves. One of the great occasions to see the joy of our faith is just around the corner, World Youth Day. I am blessed to be traveling with 16 seminarians and 30 pilgrims from our Diocese to take part in the festivities in Krakow, Poland. This event, which expects some two million attendees, will be an incredibly energizing experience that will find us surrounded by throngs of joyous young people heartily proclaiming our shared faith.

Specifically for the seminarians, I cannot think of a better experience for young men discerning the priesthood than to experience first-hand the hope generated by young people from around the world committing themselves to Christ’s message of peace.

While only a few of us from the diocese will be attending the event, I hope all of you will follow the daily coverage of World Youth Day offered by EWTN and allow this inspiring international gathering of the young of our Catholic Church to renew your faith. Pray for the World Youth Day pilgrims from the Diocese of Camden.

In addition to appreciating the soul-enriching images of World Youth Day from afar, there are other opportunities in our backyard to be surrounded by people whose faith pushes back the darkness in our world.

On August 15, we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary and the Wedding of the Sea in Atlantic City. This is an ancient custom that symbolizes the vital economic and spiritual union between the city and the ocean.

I encourage you to join the thousands of faithful at Boardwalk Hall who will celebrate the Mass of the Assumption of Mary. Afterward, we will take part in a procession along the beach which will culminate in the blessing of the Atlantic Ocean.

And lest we forget, the Jubilee of Mercy is ongoing. Our five Mercy churches of the Diocese continue to welcome pilgrims from all over. If you have not done so, I encourage you to visit these churches and renew yourself through the corporal and spiritual works of Mercy during the remainder of this Holy Year.

As exciting as these global and regional events will be, gatherings in your own parish can be equally inspiring. The shared experiences with the community of one’s own parish can be just as impactful to a person wearied by recent events. In our parishes we support one another, embrace our differences, lift one another up in prayer and grow together in faith. Let us make our parish communities microcosms of the world we wish existed and go to them for support in times of fear and worry.

These repeated acts of violence do not portray the world we want for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. We need to remind the world, through our words and actions, that the Kingdom of justice, truth, peace and love is possible.

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