Friday, November 2, 2012
A Message From Fr. John Riccardo
This morning I sat next to the men’s Bible study group, which meets in the local coffee shop. Toward the end of their Bible discussion, they began to talk about the upcoming election and voting. The group leader mentioned that he likely will vote early, being out of town next week, but that he wasn’t sure he would bother to vote. “I’ve come to believe that it doesn’t make a difference.” His words just depressed me. Oh, I won’t write here about what the Bible says about participation in the public life and witnessing to our faith, but it seems so very basic to me. Is my faith practiced behind closed doors or lived out and witnessed in public? And if I won’t witness to what I say I believe, do I really REALLY believe it? Especially in these days, when so many would prohibit me from living my faith in public, I don’t really understand how someone can think voting does not make a difference. Must they be thrown in jail for their beliefs before they would say: “Hey! Something is wrong here. We should do something!”? Or if jail were a prospect, would they just deny their faith?
Coming home, I happened to read Fr. John Riccardo’s weekly message to his parish. And I felt sad again. This man, this man of faith and a great public witness for the Catholic Church, seems to be questioning himself, even as the bible study group leader did: “Does it matter?” In his weekly message he speaks to the people of his parish --- and really to all of us --- asking us to take our faith seriously. He gives examples of many who do not. He talks those who took vows, promises before God, to raise their children according to the laws of Christ and His Church, yet don’t take them to mass. He recognizes the trials of being parents and their busy lives, but still he asks: Did you mean what you promised God?
Fr. John is a man who does not spend Sunday homily’s talking about the local football game, nor preaching “nice” sermons. He tells the truth, even if it is hard to hear, and even if it makes some think: “You’re pointing a finger at me.” He views his job as making people think. While Father John’s words were positive in tone, I could not help but wonder at his feelings behind the words, his self-image. Does he sometimes ask himself: Am I making a difference? Yet, as the message he wrote demonstrates, even as some ignore him (or God), even as some talk against him, and perhaps even as he looks at the results of his work and grades himself only a “C,” still he will not give up. Like the Good Shepherd, even if one is lost, he will deem it important that he go out and seek him --- calling even if they cannot hear, calling even if they choose not to hear.
You might take his words and let your local priest or minister read them, to give them the courage to speak the truth, even when it doesn’t want to be heard.
Please pray for our country and this election. Please pray for our religious leaders.
You can find the full text of Fr. John’s message to his parish here (page 6 of the October 28 Bulletin): http://www.catholicweb.com/bulletins/59371/Oct-28-2012.pdf