From our pastor Father Neil Herlihy

 
This Monday as a nation we will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day and many people will honor the legacy of Dr. King for his work in promoting civil rights in this country.  Dr. King played a crucial role in ending legal segregation and enhancing the voting rights of all people regardless of skin color. He also was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.  In the midst of the struggle for civil rights, he stated, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.  This is why right temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”  In another address, he voiced the hope that “… the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and that in some not too distant tomorrow, the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

A few years ago, during his historic visit to the United States, Pope Francis applauded the efforts of Dr. King as Our Holy Father addressed the United States Congress.  He stated, “A nation can be considered great…when it fosters a culture which enables people to dream of full rights for all their brothers and sisters as Martin Luther King did.”  Dr. King truly embraced a desire for unity as he reminded us that as a nation, “we must learn to live together or perish as fools.”

As we reflect on these words of Pope Francis and Dr. King, we also note that this coming Thursday will mark the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  With the world in great turmoil, especially in the Middle East, the concern for Christian unity is something that is very important to Pope Francis.  As mentioned in the past, Pope Francis stated, “Let us ask the Lord Jesus, who has made us living members of his body, to keep us deeply united to him, to help us overcome our conflicts, our desires, and our self-seeking, and to be united to one another by one force, by the power of love which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts.”  He also stated, “If we do not walk together, if we do not pray for one another, if we do not collaborate in the many ways that we can in this world, for the people of God, then unity will not come about.”

In our desire for unity, as Catholics, we are called to respect the fundamental dignity of the human person and hope to see that dignity be granted to all of God’s children.  At this time for the year, our bishops have encouraged us in a special way to reflect on prayers that promote harmony and an end to racial discrimination.  We are challenged to strive to change hearts and minds as we continue on our journey of faith.

 
 
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