I want to thank each of you for coming from the parish of Uniontown and from surrounding parishes in the area. I commend Father Nadim El Helou as well as all the pastors who have come with their flocks to celebrate the Eucharist and to be fed by a God who loves us and cares for us.
I would like to reflect for a moment with you on the family and the parish – two privileged places where God meets us:
The parish is the privileged place where we come to be fed by God’s Word and by the Sacrament of the Altar, and to share some fellowship with each other. Our family also is a domestic church where God forms us in love and prepares us for our vocations to love, serve and share in His many blessings.
Tonight you have gathered here from your homes and your parishes to meet with your bishop and patriarch. Our common belonging in the Church is what makes the family, the parish and the eparchy so special in the life of our universal Catholic Church throughout the world. This communion of love which we share makes us one with Peter, the Pope of Rome, and the whole Body of Christ and is the cause of our great joy which we share in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I chose these words “communion and love” as my motto because I learned it first in my family, then in my parish, then in my monastery and in my eparchy, and then in the life of the entire Church with Peter as Head. There is nothing greater in this world than loving communion with God and fellowship of service to each other.
Tonight I also want to reflect with you for a brief moment on the Church in Lebanon and the Middle East. Your solidarity with us there is so very important. Visit us often, register your marriages and family members with Project Roots of the Eparchy and keep your Lebanese citizenship. Reach out to assist those working with the poor and needy in Lebanon, they sometimes feel alone in their charitable witness to Christ. This solidarity is so very important, it is a sign that you love us and it is a form of “communion and love.”
It is this “communion and love” that I hope and pray for in Lebanon, the Middle East and all the world.
We trust in what Pope Benedict has said over and over in his days in Madrid with hundreds of thousands of young people: that “God is our future.” Yes God is our future, and as we look to Him for our daily bread in our homes, families, parishes, eparchy and in the entire Catholic Church throughout the world, we find Him so very much alive with us and among us and in our hearts.
May God bless and keep you all in His “communion and love,” and may the prayers of Mary, Mother of God and all the saints be with us all.
(Reprinted with permission.)