God’s love helps preserve and restore innocence

On December 11, the night before the announcement that I was appointed the new bishop of our diocese, I was driving from Minneapolis to Sioux Falls. It was a lovely evening. As I headed through the rural areas of Interstate 90, I was struck by the lovely cold evening as the moon shone over the barren, partially snow-covered farmland. My interior spiritual sense was that I was returning to a Nazareth sort of place—a new home in which the innocent life I loved and remembered as a child was being restored to me.

It was this spiritual experience in my prayerful ponderings that inspired these two lines in my “God is Love” prayer which I felt inspired to write:

“Protect us from evil and help us to live a holy life like Jesus, Mary and Joseph did in Nazareth….Jesus, just as you grew in age, grace and wisdom in Nazareth, help us to do the same so we may live wholesome, pure and generous lives.”

These deep inner Godly stirrings in my heart were what I desired for all in our diocese.

Preserving and restoring the innocent life of wholesomeness is not easy these days, especially in the culture we live. Unfortunately there are so many avenues where the beauty of our wholesomeness and innocence is compromised and attacked, trying to seduce us to think that if we get into the unholy disordered desires we will be happy. If we live in integrity, we can discover these are only apparent goods, harmful, sometimes sinful and severely damage our true happiness and relationships.

I hope you find our Bishop’s Bulletin feature article helpful in shining light into the devastating and sinful nature of pornography. It is such an easy way for anyone to be lead astray into something they don’t fully understand, especially the devastating impact it will have on their lives and the multiplicity of issues it causes interiorly and in our relationships, particularly in marriage.

As harmful, addictive and misleading as pornography is for everyone, there is hope and freedom to be gained if we seek out the right measures that help protect us, heal us and restore us to right relationship with God, others and ourselves. May our Good God preserve holy innocence where it is still preserved, and may we all strive to protect the innocence of others, especially the young, and work vigorously to restore the innocence God desires for all of us so we can be healthy, happy and holy on our journey to heaven.

I hope you will enjoy the picture of Nazareth and “God is Love” prayer and join me in calling upon the graces of God to assist us in preserving and restoring the amazing gift of wholesomeness and innocence.

GOD IS LOVE PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us so much. Help us to receive and share that love with you, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and others. Protect us from evil and help us to live a holy life like Jesus, Mary and Joseph did in Nazareth. Bless our work and help us to offer our difficulties to you as an act of love.

Jesus, just as you grew in age, grace and wisdom in Nazareth, help us to do the same so we may live wholesome, pure and generous lives. Help us to make sacrifices for the good of others like you did by dying on the cross for our sins.

Holy Spirit, fill everyone’s heart with your divine love so we all may be holy. Help all mothers and fathers to be open to new human life and experience the joy of cooperating with God’s plan. Inspire everyone to respect the dignity of human life at all stages.

Mary and St. Joseph, pray for us that we will be totally open to God’s plan for our life as you modeled so wonderfully. Help us to be humble, grateful and generous in our response to the goodness and love of God.
Amen