This morning I was driving and heard Bishop Olmsted speaking on the radio. He made a plea for all of us to support the relief efforts in Haiti. It struck me how prompt and direct his response came, just days--hours, really--after the harrowing events. He spoke simple words of love and truth. Haiti needs our help. Let's respond.
The same catastrophe/response pattern is on display in the readings for this Sunday. The Prophet Isaiah speaks: "No longer shall people call you 'forsaken,'.. but you shall be called 'my delight.'" At the famous wedding at Cana, Mary says to Jesus, "They have no more wine." And Jesus responds with his first "sign," miraculously transforming water into wine. Emptiness into fullness; abandonment into love.
January 22 is approaching us this week. January 22, 1973 was a harrowing day in the U.S., a day of forsakenness and desolation: the legalization of abortion in the decision Roe vs. Wade.
A few months later, on July 2, 1973, a young man was ordained a priest in Lincoln, Nebraska, who dedicated himself to defending the defenseless. No doubt this was one of the countless ways that God responded and continues to respond. That young priest is now our Bishop Olmsted. I recall that Bishop once explained in a talk to young priests: he saw clearly that it was God's design that he was ordained in 1973, so close to Roe vs. Wade. God was calling him to respond; or better said, God was mysteriously responding to the recent catastrophe in and through the young Fr. Thomas Olmsted's priesthood.
Over thirty years later, one of Bishop Olmsted's first public actions as the new Bishop of Phoenix was to pray--quietly, peacefully, fervently--outside an abortion clinic. He continues to proclaim the gospel of life--unconditional respect and love for every human person, especially those most "forsaken": the unborn, the elderly, unmarried mothers, immigrants, and now the poor in Haiti.
With all this in mind...what a blessing that Bishop Olmsted will visit Xavier College Prep--a school dedicated to the Catholic formation of women--this Jan. 22! He will celebrate the Holy Mass with the entire school in accord with the day's special pentitential spirit. How fitting it will be to led by our Bishop in prayer, even in the midst of desolation. Because on this day of darkness and sadness, God responds. He responds with love.