Pastoral letter Transformed by Hope, Let Us Rebuild Our Tommorrow!, regarding challenge of COVID-19 pandemic, promulgated by archbishop on Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Relying on the mercy of God, who has been with us throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, at the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, presented a pastoral letter, Transformed by Hope, Let Us Rebuild Our Tomorrow!, to all the people of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. The archbishop promulgated the document at a Mass September 14 at San Fernando Cathedral attended by ministry representatives from various institutions in the archdiocese, primarily educational entities.
Prior to signing the Pastoral Letter, Archbishop Gustavo said, “In this challenging time, we ask the Holy Spirit to grant us freedom in spirit, in order to loosen ties and holdbacks that prevent our souls from flying towards the divine. We pray humbly and constantly for the virtue of fortitude, a gift of the Holy Spirit that is rooted in trust. We do not know exactly what God has in store for us, but while we wait and work for this crisis to be over, let us hope together not that this will just be an episode in history from which we recovered, but a turning point that we embraced, allowing God to heal and transform each one of us, our archdiocese, and the whole world into something better.”
The document states, “Ignited by the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts, let us dive into the dynamics of the current times! Let us come in closer spiritual contact with God and with one another! Let us recognize and caress the Face of the Lord – whom we adore – in the flesh of every suffering brother or sister. And may our perception, thoughts, feelings and actions become a channel of God’s love for his children. Ven, Holy Spirit, Ven!”
Copies of the Pastoral Letter will be distributed to parishes of the archdiocese as well as Catholic schools. It is also available on the archdiocesan website at www.archsa.org and archdiocesan social media.
In his homily, the archbishop explained that St. Helena was the discoverer of the True Cross in Jerusalem. It was by the sign of this Cross that her son, the Emperor Constantine, was able to conquer his foes and end the official persecution of the Church. St. Helena began the traditions of the pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and was able to find many of the original sites in Jerusalem that were important places as mentioned in the gospels.
“So, we owe a great debt to her,” said Archbishop Gustavo, who then pointed to the crucifix in the retablo in the original colonial section of the cathedral, adding, “It is noteworthy that in front of us we have the very large cross to remind us of who we are, of the sacrifice Christ has made for us, and as a sign to the world of God’s love for the human family.”
Pope Francis has reminded us that the mystery of the Cross is a mystery to be approached “in prayer and tears.” (Sept. 14, 2014). A mystery, because the Cross is a holy symbol or sign of the intersection of the human race and Almighty God. The vertical line of the Cross is a sign of God reaching from the heavens toward us and our earthly reality. The horizontal beam of the Cross is a symbol of the arms of God reaching out to us to embrace us with all of the beauty, pain, sin, and hope within us.
“We approach in prayer because we are struck with a sense of awe at the majesty of God, who, in Christ, has humbled himself, taking the form of a slave, as St. Paul reminds us,” the archbishop emphasized. He asked, “What kind of God is this, who would so humiliate himself as to enter into our humanity, our experience, our torn and wounded nature? Surely this is a mystery before which we must bow in prayer.”
But the Holy Father also mentions tears. “Why does he say this?” Archbishop Gustavo quizzed listeners, responding, “Because it is before the cross of Jesus that we can lay down our burdens, seek repentance, and know that his suffering absorbs our own. Our tears may, at first, be the tears of suffering or pain. But, they are changed into tears of joy and happiness as we realize that the Cross is also the symbol of our healing, our strength, of the resurrection, and of the life of the world to come!”
The San Antonio prelate lingered on this point for a moment. “Every time we profess the Creed we say we believe in the ‘life of the world to come.’ What do we mean by this saying, ‘the life of the world to come?’”
He continued, “In technical theology this refers to the eschaton, meaning the end of all things and the final coming of Christ. For us as Christians this is a source of joy! Or at least it should be! Because this is when Our Lord, the King of all creation, will renew and finally redeem all that He has made! This is when the lion shall lie down with the lamb, and when peace shall pervade all things. This is when the deserts shall bloom, and the poor will receive their reward.”
The Missionary of the Holy Spirit further discussed the power of the Cross. “The Cross is the sign that leads us as we march through history to the day of final redemption! The Cross is the symbol of the Lamb of God, once slain, who is now Risen from the Dead! Lift high the Cross, exalt Him who has lain down His life for us! As missionary disciples this is our call! This is our song! Let all the world adore His sacred name!”
The archbishop described the additional duties that members of the Mystical body of Christ have in their special responsibility to be living signs of the redemption wrought in Christ Jesus, Our Lord; to help many, through the sign of the Cross, to come to know the great and merciful love of Almighty God.
As St. John has told us, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son for us.”