Catholic Arkansas Sharing Appeal 2016

Published: February 7, 2016

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor recorded the following homily that was played at all Masses in Arkansas on Feb. 6-7, 2016.

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Bishop Taylor

For more than 700 years the Church has celebrated ordinary jubilee years every 25 or 50 years (most recently in the year 2000) and a few extraordinary jubilee years in addition, as needed. We are in the midst of one of these rare extraordinary holy years right now: an extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which will last until Nov. 20, the feast of Christ the King.

In order to make access to God's mercy more widely available, this is the first jubilee in history in which holy doors are to be opened in all dioceses, not just in Rome. Ours is at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Little Rock. Access to our holy door is available every day, but starting this weekend, the first Saturday of every month will be a special day of mercy.

On that day confessors will be available, the Divine Mercy Chaplet will be prayed, and information will be available about many of the works of mercy in our diocese — mostly funded through your CASA donations. These include: information about annulments for those who are divorced; Project Rachel for healing for those who have participated in an abortion; Retrouvaille for marriages that are in trouble; Courage for those dealing with same-sex attraction; and a wide variety of retreats and other opportunities for spiritual growth.

On that day confessors will be available, the Divine Mercy Chaplet will be prayed, and information will be available about many of the works of mercy in our diocese — mostly funded through your CASA donations.

Seminarians will also lead tours and prayers at the House of Formation, which is located at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish. This is to be a holy door of mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instills hope.

And this truly has been a great Year of Mercy for us. We remember Pope Francis' visit to the United States last September and his message of hope. He challenged us to live up to the highest ideals of our nation and to work to strengthen family life as the foundation of a society that is merciful and just.

We remember the extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome and the movement of the Holy Spirit as the participants sought to affirm the sanctity of marriage as an indissoluble bond between a man and a woman, while at the same time seeking out and caring "for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy."

We rejoice in the ordination of five young men to the priesthood this coming May and seven more to the diaconate, to be ordained priests next year — 12 new priests in two years, and two more large classes after that. God is very merciful.

And of course, we need your CASA (Catholic Arkansas Sharing Appeal) donations to help fund those things that we do as a diocese to benefit us all. Just this year we finished paying off the construction of our House of Formation, where I now live and 11 of our 39 seminarians are studying.

Now we need to turn our attention to remodeling our 50-year-old Fletcher Hall retreat center, which will be very expensive. I note also that at Pope Francis' request, we have dropped all fees connected with annulments, so we will need to cover this from CASA going forward. Our fees were actually pretty nominal, covering only 10 percent of the tribunal budget, but this way it will be even more clear that there is no connection between money and justice in the Church.

A description of many of the other ways your CASA donations are used to build up Jesus' kingdom of mercy in Arkansas can be found in this week's issue of the Arkansas Catholic. If you are not yet a subscriber, please sign up. Subscription envelopes are being provided to you along with your CASA pledge card to be filled out during this Mass.

Our diocesan guideline for your 10-percent tithe to the Lord before taxes is 5 percent to your parish, 4 percent to other charities or more to your parish, and 1 percent to this CASA appeal. Take your adjusted gross income, drop three zeros and give that amount each of the next 10 months.

If you earn $50,000 per year, pledge to give $50 per month for the next 10 months and that is 1 percent. Thank you for your generosity in the past and thanks in advance for an even more generous response this year! Please join me in making not only CASA but indeed this entire Year of Mercy a shared blessing for everyone.