I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. St. Paul’s faith in Jesus Christ and his hope in the fulfillment of God’s promises helps him to persevere in any circumstance: when things are going well and when they are going badly; when he has an abundance or when he is in want; when he has a full stomach or when he has to go hungry. This is the kind of perseverance to which we are being called in the holy gospel today. In “The Parable of the Marriage Feast” (in Matthew 22), Jesus contrasts those who were first invited by the king and those he invited secondarily. The Fathers of the Church interpreted the first group as the Israelites, the first People of God. But because of Israel’s indifference and hostility — their rejection of God’s loving call — God (the king) instead invites the Gentiles, that is, us, to His wedding feast. However, unless we respond faithfully to the call we have received, we will be cast “into outer darkness” (Mt 22:13).

About 250 people from across the Diocese of Tyler attended Saturday’s Marian Conference on the campus of Bishop Gorman Schools in Tyler which focused on the Virgin Mary’s role in the family.

The day began with Solemn Mass and a Eucharistic Procession celebrated by Bishop Joseph Strickland at the Chapel of Sts. Peter & Paul.

In his homily, Bishop Strickland focused on Mary’s role as an example for families and alluded to the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, which highlights the Virgin Mary as the model for the Church. The document reads, in part:

As St. Ambrose taught, the Mother of God is a type of the Church in the order of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ. ….And so they turn their eyes to Mary who shines forth to the whole community of the elect as the model of virtues. Devoutly meditating on her and contemplating her in the light of the Word made man, the Church reverently penetrates more deeply into the great mystery of the Incarnation and becomes more and more like her spouse. Seeking after the glory of Christ, the Church becomes more like her lofty type, and continually progresses in faith, hope and charity, seeking and doing the will of God in all things. The Church, therefore, in her apostolic work too, rightly looks to her who gave birth to Christ, who was thus conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, in order that through the Church he could be born and increase in the hearts of the faithful. In her life the Virgin has been a model of that motherly love with which all who join in the Church’s apostolic mission for the regeneration of mankind should be animated.

From October 5-19, 2014, bishops from around the world will gather with Pope Francis in Extraordinary Synod in Rome to consider the pastoral challenges facing the family. A Synod is simply a gathering of bishops that advise the Holy Father by providing counsel on important issues facing the people of God.

By their very nature, the topics that will be discussed at this Synod – divorce, annulment, remarriage and others – rightly evoke passionate feelings among all people because they deal with the very fabric of the family and society. There will be extensive coverage in both the secular and Catholic press, some of which will be accurate and some of which will have an agenda behind it.

At the outset, bear in mind that this Extraordinary Synod is serving to prepare and formally set the agenda for the Ordinary Synod which will meet on the same topics in 2015. It is from this Ordinary Synod in 2015 that we will see the final recommendations to the Holy Father.

In light of this, the time is opportune for us to reflect on what we believe about the Sacrament of Marriage and the teaching authority of the Church.

Calling the men before him to missionary discipleship and stressing their role in the New Evangelization, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, ordained 43 seminarians from the Pontifical North American College, including two from the Diocese of Tyler, to the Order of Deacon on Thursday morning at the Altar of the Chair at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

With their ordination, now-Deacons George Elliott and Josh Neu enter the final period of preparation for the priesthood for the Diocese of Tyler.

Bishop Joseph Strickland and at least six priests from the dioceses joined a large contingent of lay faithful from East Texas at the ordination and reception that followed.

Last Saturday in his keynote address at the Diocesan Liturgical Conference, Bishop Strickland warned about the danger of arrogance — certainly arrogance in regard to Church teachings and documents on the liturgy, but really any form of arrogance. The Bishop said that arrogance, that is, thinking I know best (and no one is going to tell me otherwise) is at the root of every sin. He emphasized that joy and humility go hand-in-hand. The readings for this 26th Sunday complement appropriately our shepherd’s message: Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5). St. Paul in the second reading is encouraging us to have the humility of Jesus Christ — not regarding ourselves as equal to God, but emptying ourselves (and our egos) for the sake of others. While the virtue of selflessness is generally admired by society, the humility to which we are being called is far greater than the worldly trait of unpretentiousness. We are being called to practice the humility of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This is something that the chief priests and elders could not understand in the gospel reading (Mt 21:28-32). In “The Parable of the Two Sons,” Jesus shows how tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before the religious leaders. And why? Because the sinners of Jesus’ day had true repentance for their sins and a willingness to ask for God’s mercy, which are signs of genuine humility before God.