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‘Do you believe in miracles?’

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Sept. 25, 2013

Last week I celebrated the Mass for the Opening of the School Year at Seton Catholic in Plattsburgh.  After Mass I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting some of the students in the classrooms at Seton Academy. 

The students always have plenty of questions to ask the bishop.  One sixth grader raised his hand:  “If you didn’t become a priest, what would you have liked to become?”  I thought long and hard and then replied:  “a goalie in the National Hockey League.” Mind you, even if I were six inches taller and fifty pounds lighter, my athletic abilities are pretty pathetic. 

But, I guess I must have had Lake Placid (not Georgia) on my mind when the young lad asked the question. 

I was sitting in my room at a Navy base in Pensacola watching the 1980 Winter Olympics televised from Lake Placid.  There were less than ten seconds left in the hockey game when TV sports commentator, Al Michaels asked the question heard around the world:  “Do you believe in miracles?”  Yup!

On September 29th, faith-filled people from throughout the towns and villages of northern New York and beyond will gather at the Olympic Arena in Lake Placid to celebrate THE miracle of all miracles, the source and summit of our Catholic faith, the Holy Eucharist.

What an honor and privilege it is for us to welcome the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Viganò, to be the principal celebrant of the Mass.  Archbishop Viganò’s presence among us will be an inspiring statement of Pope Francis’ solicitude for the Catholics of our Diocese, indeed of the Holy Father’s concern for all those who call the North Country “home.”

Back on October 11, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated the Year of Faith.  This has been a graced opportunity for Catholics throughout the world to renew our faith so that we might be more credible and joy-filled witnesses to Christ and more actively engaged in service of the poor.

Our diocesan Year of Faith Committee continues to provide us with a rich fare of events to deepen our knowledge of the Catholic faith, celebrate it as family, and share it with others, all the while strengthening our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

A hockey goal-tender is often pummeled in the net with shots from all over the ice.  His success is determined by: his disciplined skill, his ability to stay focused on the puck, his knowledge of the game and on the high level of trust that he places in his teammates. 

Catholic Christians in today’s society are often similarly pummeled with shots that test our faith.  But infinitely more is at stake than winning a hockey game. 

Similar to the successful athlete, we must: keep our eyes and hearts focused on Christ developed through a disciplined prayer life; never tire of gaining more and more knowledge of our faith; and maintain persevering trust in our God and His Body, the Church, even when there appears to be no relief from the shots headed our way.

This Year of Faith energizes you and me to not just sit quietly and absorb the barrage of the many societal challenges to our faith, but to move out of our defensive zone to joyfully, humbly, and confidently share this divine treasure with others.

As Pope Francis told the bishops in Rio at World Youth Day, “it is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people!”

An idle Christian is a contradiction in terms.  Through the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, we are nourished by Word and Christ’s Body and Blood to live and proclaim our faith.  That’s how holiness happens.

I’m looking forward to being with you in Lake Placid as we come together as a diocesan family for this joyful celebration.

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