Bishop McGrath’s Pre-Christmas Message
November 23, 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I address myself today to all Catholics and people of good will, here in Santa Clara County. In a special way, I am writing to those among us who live in fear – fear of discrimination, of deportation, of having their families torn apart.
There is a great deal of uncertainty in these weeks following the national elections. Yet we must respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and friends, and those who live and work with us in this Valley of Saint Clare.
While I will not attempt to offer any false hope, I do want to assure you that the Diocese of San Jose is working in partnership with Santa Clara County and the City of San Jose and other agencies, including Catholic Charities, to address both the fears of our people and steps to defend the human rights of every individual, regardless of ethnicity, place of origin, or religion.
On November 14, Mayor Sam Liccardo pledged to all who feel threatened by possible action, “We’ve got your back.” He went on to explain that “we cannot control the events in Washington, D.C., but we can do much to care for each other here at home.”
The Church makes the same pledge as we stand together in solidarity and accompaniment with those most in need. We cannot and will not abandon you because Jesus promised never to abandon us.
As a community that professes that kind of hope in Christ, our greatest strength lies in our ability to gather together in prayer. It is what the Lord Jesus did prior to every major event in his life. It is what we must also do as we continue “to promote a culture of mercy in which no one looks at another with indifference or turns away from the suffering of our brothers and sisters” (Pope Francis, Misericordia et Misera).
Therefore, I invite all to observe a Day of Prayer on December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. For almost 500 years since the Blessed Virgin Mary’s appearance to a poor Indigenous Mexican named Juan Diego, Catholics have prayed for our Lady of Guadalupe’s protection and strength under her title as Patroness of the Americas.
It is in this image of Mary that we find comfort, consolation, strength, and hope. And it is in the union of our prayer with her that we encourage one another for the work that lies ahead.
So that we might pray together, I ask our churches to remain open throughout December 12, from Las Mañanitas (or the first Mass) in the morning until evening, as determined in each parish.
As we pray that day under the loving gaze of Guadalupe, the Mother of us all, let us remember that “we cannot love Our Lady of Guadalupe unless we love el pobre [the poor one] Juan Diego with the commitment of our lives”
In closing, I wish to recall the opening words of the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes:
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.
Know that your joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties are ours, and I offer my prayers and solidarity with and for you. We stand with you.
With every best wish and kind regard, I remain,
Patrick J. McGrath
Bishop of San Jose