Friday, February 15, 2008
A BISHOP WITH A HEART FOR GOD
I haven't heard of him before. Bishop Bernard Harrington, of the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota. The diocese seldom makes the news either. Perhaps it's a small one.
There is an article in the current diocesan newspaper which is online here. Many of the articles are noteworthy. A couple deal with NFP, including one about young people who support it. There is an article about "Jesus and the Jews: New Understandings" which I haven't read yet but will.
The article that caught my attention is "Desecration of Holy Ground" written by the bishop. The article describes desecration of a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, a statue of Christ crucified, and a church, St. Joseph's Church in Theilman, where the tabernacle was desecrated and hosts strewn around. Here is what the bishop says about that October 2002 event:
Since the church was desecrated,
it was necessary to re-consecrate
the church before any other
church services could take place.
That following Tuesday night, I
went to Theilman and re-consecrated
the church and celebrated
the Eucharist. Literally, the whole
parish came out for the ceremony.
There was a wonderful demonstration
of faith and deep respect for
When the Mass was finished,
it was already nightfall. I decided
that the desecrated hosts should be
reverently placed in the ground in
the parish cemetery, just above the
church. It was quite a sight to have
the parishioners walk up the hill to
the cemetery with only the lights
from a few cars showing the way.
Two of the men dug an appropriate
grave on the cemetery ground and
the desecrated hosts were reverently
placed into the soil. It was
truly a burial in sacred ground. I
doubt that the young children and
teenagers who were part of this
special ceremony will ever forget
that occasion. It was a special lesson
about respect for the Eucharist
and the sacredness of the cemetery
grounds. A few days later, some
young town teens admitted to the
destruction. One of he young men
came to the church on Sunday and
asked for forgiveness for his foolish
action. This too was a most
meaningful reconciliation for the
Catholic community and the vandal.
What a message this Bishop sent not only to his diocese, but through the web, all around the world. He must have been teaching the sacredness of the consecrated host long before this event took place to have the whole parish turn out for his Mass.
Regarding desecration of the statues in the cemetary he has this to say:
Vandalism or desecration of personal
property is always morally as
well as civilly wrong. But the acts
of vandalism at the cemetery statues
seem to be motivated by something
deeper than just “pranks.” It
seems to manifest hostility perhaps
even a satanical attitude toward our
The frequency of events such as this making the news seems to be increasing. It surprises me that a bishop has the courage to define it this way. I no longer assume American bishops and priests will openly admit that Satan exists, and am heartened to see that one bishop still believes he does, and that Satan has followers who are committing these acts.