Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Each and every day our "Give Us This Day" booklet that many of our parishioners subscribe to and read, contains a short biography of a person who has been a great "Ambassador" for Christ in their life.  It is sometimes a declared saint or it may be a lay person, priest, or religious who led an exemplary life and has departed this world.  Some of these people are "far out there" in terms of where they lived and/or when they lived which can make it, in some ways, challenging for us to connect with them.  Not so, however, when it comes to Blessed Stanley Rother, who was recently beatified.  He was a priest of the Oklahoma Archdiocese and he lived in a time that parallels more than a few of our parishioners, being born in 1935.

We have the opportunity to connect even more closely with this contemporary witness to Christ (who died as a martyr) by coming to a presentation by our own bishop, Anthony Taylor, who knew Father Rother and who, as a priest of Oklahoma City, was given the charge to investigate Father Rother's life and ministry by interviewing people in Guatemala who knew Father Rother before he was martyred there in 1981.

Bishop Taylor's presentation will be on Friday, October 27 starting with a meal provided by our Knights of Columbus at 5:00 p.m.  The presentation will be both video and through a talk about Father Rother from our bishop.  Please plan to join us and sign up to do so on the table in the narthex by Monday, October 23 or call the Church at 922-2062, extension 10, and let Linda Daniels know you are coming.

I appreciate the bishop's willingness to give us some of his valuable time to help us connect with Blessed Stanley with information about his remarkable life and hopefully in the future by asking for his intercession for our various needs.
It should come as no surprise that I begin this column reflecting on the horror that happened in Las Vegas on Sunday night and the senseless murder of over 50 innocent people and the wounding of over 500 people at the hands of one man who caused all of this destruction and grief for so many who were affected by this violent act.  Firstly, we hopefully have been, and still are, praying for the victims and their families whose shock and suffering are hard for us to imagine.  As Christians, we are called to pray, as well, for the perpetrator of this terrible act.  His disrespect for human life, including his own, is clear and hard to fathom.  Our faith tells us that God is always with us and is "close to the brokenhearted" (Ps 34:16).  This tragedy happened at the beginning of "Respect Life Month."  Someone has commented that the more we witness these "Mass Killings," the greater is the chance that we can become complacent and not horrified by these killings no matter whether it's a few or many victims.  Perhaps that complacency has already been happening when it comes to the killing of so many lives through abortion each day.  We can't, and shouldn't, ever look the other way when human life, especially innocent human life, is being destroyed.  Rather we should firstly, pray for a change in more minds and hearts toward respect, or greater respect, and awe for every human life given to us by God, and do what we can personally to grow in respect for human lives ourselves.  Please read the inserts which will be put in the bulletins a few times this month, and reflect upon how "WE" can make the world in which we live more respectful of all human life from the womb to tomb.

There are never easy answers to the serious problems we face individually or as a country.  I hope, though, that we can all agree that the starting point is God, and striving to do what Jesus taught and did in His perfect life.  From that starting point, many blessings and hopefully solutions will follow.
I am still reflecting on the beatification of Blessed Stanley Rother, a priest/martyr who died for the Lord and for the flock he shepherd in Guatemala on July 28, 1981.  Bishop Taylor, who did much work that furthered the cause of Blessed Stanley's beatification commented to me that he never thought he would live long enough to see the day of his beatification as we now pray for his canonization.  I believe we can thank Saint, Pope John Paul II who, during his Pontificate changed somewhat the process of getting someone declared by the Church to be blessed and some, declared a saint.  This gives us not only saintly people of the past, and some long past to venerate, to ask for their intercession and to seek to emulate, but it also gives us role models and intercessors who lived in our time and who show us how to live as a faith-filled disciple of Christ in the time and circumstances in which we live.  Blessed Stanley Rother was a missionary to a region of the world that needed such a Christ-like person of love, hope and charity.  The fact is, however, that we can be blessed to be touched by people close by (like Marilyn Burke who I spoke of in my homily last weekend), who give of themselves for the sake of others every day, who help us to grow in our own credible witness to Christ to people we encounter in the place we live.  It is a great sign of faith whenever we ask for the intercession of holy people like Blessed Stanley Rother and people who we know seek to be in union with God in prayer and in action.  It is humbling, and a blessing when people ask us to intercede for them, for their loved ones, and for other needs.  Experiencing a beatification or canonization also serves to turn our minds, hearts and hopefully our actions to the things of heaven where we believe that Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, and where we hope to be one day with all the saints in glory.