A Christmas proclamation
By BISHOP ROBERT J. BAKER
On Dec. 31, the Diocese of Charleston concludes its Year of Prayer with the prayer intention for December of offering our life and work in total consecration to the service of the Gospel. I thank all in our diocese who have participated in this special Jubilee Year of Prayer by joining in the monthly Prayer Intentions. Though the Jubilee Year proclaimed by Pope John Paul II officially ends on the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 7, 2001, I hereby declare this Year of Prayer for the Diocese of Charleston concluded on Dec. 31, 2000, and proclaim the year 2001 as a Year of Reconciliation. We will have special monthly themes for parish and diocesan prayer, reflection and celebration. The Year of Reconciliation 2001 is to be regarded as a year of preparation preceding evangelization efforts in the future.
While we celebrate the diversities that characterize our church being multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual, multicultural, with different political views and social and economic strata, we need to experience ourselves as one body, reconciled in Christ. The challenge we face as a church is to implement the theme of the Jubilee Year to “Open Wide the Doors to Christ” and to open wide the doors of our hearts so that people may feel at home in our parishes and missions, our schools and our diocese.
Our monthly themes for reflection and prayer in the Year 2001 The Year of Reconciliation are as follows:
January Collaboration in Ministry “the working together of all the baptized, each contributing specific, personal gifts (Source: NCCB Committee on the Laity, “Gifts Unfolding: the Lay Vocation Today with Questions for Tomorrow,” 1990).
February The Gifts of our Black/African-American Brothers and Sisters (Black History Month) “All men and women are created in God’s image; not just ‘some’ races and racial types, but ‘all’ bear the imprint of the Creator and are enlivened by the breath of one Spirit …” (Source: U.S. bishops “Brothers and Sisters to Us”).
March The Dignity of Women “Particular attention needs to be given to the vocation of women. On other occasions I have expressed my esteem for the specific contribution of women to the progress of humanity and recognized the legitimacy of the aspiration to take part fully in ecclesial, cultural, social and economic life.” (Source: “Ecclesia in America,” apostolic exhortation by Pope John Paul II, Jan. 22, 1999).
April The Blessings of Children Let us pray for all children who have been and are being abused let us seek forgiveness and reconciliation for the times we have stood by and not interceded on behalf of children.
May The Gifts of our Asian-American Brothers and Sisters Let us welcome and celebrate with our brothers and sisters from Vietnam, Korea, Philippines, and other Asian countries who share with us their gifts.
June The Stewardship of the Earth Let us pray for and be reconciled with the earth with our environment let us seek forgiveness for how we have exploited the earth and its multiple gifts to us.
July The Opportunity to be Faithful Citizens Let us pray for collaboration and reconciliation between our political leaders. “In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue; participation in the political process is a moral obligation” (Source: U.S. Catholic bishops, “Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium,” 1999).
August The Gifts of Native Americans Let us pray for and be reconciled with our Native American brothers and sisters and learn from them their great love of the earth, the air, the waters, and all creatures, great and small.
September The Gifts of all Persons of Spanish-speaking Origins “Let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you, let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here Who am your Mother?” (Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego).
October Respect all Life Issues Let us pray for and seek reconciling hearts for all life issues abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia and all violent acts inflicted on persons of all ages.
November The Gifts of all European Americans Many of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents came to this country seeking freedom from oppression, starvation, and persecution let us pray that we might welcome all newcomers to our country and to our diocese let us pray in Thanksgiving for all the blessings we have received.
December Union of Mind and Heart with God Let us put on the mind of Christ and strive for union with God through reconciliation. “For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh…that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it” (Ephesians 2:14-16)