Voice from the Valley

VFTV: March 27, 2019


What a joy it is to join with those seeking the Easter sacraments and those baptized people now seeking full communion with us, and with their godparents and sponsors, in the Cathedral church the first Sunday of Lent for the unique rites of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. We were able to hold this celebration this year notwithstanding the snow storm the day and night before.

As bishop, I expressed the Church’s desire to know our catechumens and if they are sufficiently prepared to become Catholic Christians. I asked their godparents if they had faithfully listened to God’s words proclaimed by the Church and had responded, beginning to walk in God’s presence. I asked if they had shared the company of their Christian sisters and brothers and joined with them in prayer. I expressed the Church’s desire to know if the candidates are ready to live the demands of full sacramental life in the Church. I asked their sponsors if they had faithfully listened to the apostles’ instruction proclaimed by the Church. I asked if they had come to a deeper appreciation of their baptism and if they had reflected sufficiently on the tradition of the Church and joined their brothers and sisters in prayer. I asked if they had advanced in a life of love and service of others. With the assurance that they have, I invited the catechumens to sign the Book of the Elect and I gave official recognition of the candidates’ desire to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and have a place at Christ’s Eucharistic table. We welcome all our Elect and Candidates and assure them of our prayers as they continue their journey of faith to a glorious Easter.

Of course, it’s good for us all to recognize that the questions asked of the catechumens and candidates are good ones for each of us to look at too.

Have I faithfully listened to the word of God and responded by walking in God’s presence?

Do I faithfully join my brothers and sisters in prayer?

Do I faithfully listen to the teaching of the apostles expressed by the Magisterium of the Church?

Do I continually seek a deeper conversion and living out of my baptism?

May each of us make progress in our “yes” to these questions during this season of Lent.


The Gospel we heard on the First Sunday of Lent was St. Luke’s account of the devil tempting Jesus. The next Gospel passage we heard on Monday was St. Matthew’s account of the Last Judgment. The judgment does not go well for those to whom the Lord says: “Depart from me, you accursed … for I was hungry … thirsty … a stranger … naked … ill and in prison and you did not care for me.” “What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.”

During these first weeks of Lent, we are asked to spend time in prayer and reflection on the quality of our response to the Gospel message in the concrete circumstances of our lives. We are invited to take a careful look at how we respond today to the imperative Jesus has given us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

In the last edition of OND, you read about Catholics at the Capitol, held February 19. The Diocese of Crookston had good representation at this event and I want to thank all who got up “really early” to travel to St. Paul and join with almost 1,100 of their Catholic brothers and sisters from all corners of Minnesota. It was a day of prayer, education and meetings with state representatives and senators to advocate on issues important to Catholics and all who live in this great state.

The morning’s keynote speaker was Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia.

“The lesson for us today,” he said, “is simply this: If we don’t at least try to shape our times with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to do it with all our hearts and energy, then evil will shape the times, and ultimately shape us and our families – those we love.”

We Catholics at the Capitol that day took the time and made the effort to help care for the poor, the hungry, the naked, and the stranger through advocacy. For example, we talked to legislators about four bills currently being considered that help support children in the womb, expectant mothers and fathers, and families with young children during the first 1,000 days of life.

Currently, as you know, there are millions of undocumented people in the United States. In Minnesota, these men and women are members of our communities and our parishes and they are needed important workers in many businesses. We desperately need our lawmakers in Washington D.C. to pass comprehensive immigration legislation that would allow a workable process for immigrants to obtain papers and that would allow a workable pathway to citizenship. The fact that this legislation is lacking does not excuse us from taking care of our neighbor. As it stands now, in Minnesota the undocumented cannot apply for a driver’s license and not having a driver’s license can be a huge burden when it comes to keeping a job and providing for one’s family. As Archbishop Hebda recently testified at the Capitol: “Allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for drivers’ licenses does not reward lawlessness; rather, it enhances public safety.” “Undocumented immigrants need to be able to drive to work, school, and church; to take care of their families, and to feel secure.”

This Lent we are challenged to resist the temptations we face and to see how we might do better at loving the least among us. One way might be for you to start using the Catholic Advocacy Network (MNCatholic.org) if you aren’t using it already. Maybe start by checking it once a week and making use of one of the emails available there for you to send to your state representative or senator. The King of the final judgment reminds us that: “When you did it for one of the least of these, you did it for me.”