Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
A most blessed and happy new year of grace to you. I pray that this year will bring you closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, our Savior. We have celebrated our Savior’s birth at Christmas, and the coming of the Magi at Epiphany. We have given and received gifts in imitation of that blessed event. Now we return to a few weeks of Ordinary Time before Lent begins next month. But I hope that the spiritual gifts we have received will continue to burn brightly within us.
God loves us so much, that he came to save us from our sins, not in power and with his legions of angels, but in the weakness and humility of a baby, in the poverty of a carpenter’s son, in the abandonment of the cross. If we desire to be saved, we must imitate that same humility. Jesus taught again and again that the good disciple takes up the cross, in following him. The way of the cross is not easy, but it has unique joy, consolation and reward.
But how hard it is for us to follow whole-heartedly. We are tempted by our natural desires, some for lesser goods, some for sinful pleasures. The logic of the world, that power wins and “nice guys finish last,” seems compelling. There are many things that are necessary to live in this world, which it is not wrong to possess, but which often come to possess us even more. Because God is quiet and the world is loud, too often we listen to the world and fail to follow God.
One of the loudest voices in today’s world is the one that cries out for killing the inconvenient babies and elderly among us. Abortion and euthanasia are terrible evils – the sanctioned murder of the innocent and helpless. These grave sins deform us all, because, in addition to those who die, and who are complicit in their deaths by decision or by doing, all of us are harmed spiritually and socially. Especially in January, as we remember with sadness and resolve for change the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, we should renew our commitment to oppose this culture of death and stand visibly for the dignity and sanctity of every human life.
Our power to bring about this change in our culture is not first and foremost political. It comes from the quality of our witness to Christ, to love, and to the value of life. And that in turn is vibrant and convincing only on the foundation of prayer and holiness.
Just as Christ was first born in silence and humility, so he must be brought to life in us, and in our culture, the same way. Our increase in prayer and holiness of life must come first. With this foundation, constantly renewed by grace, our public witness of being faithful disciples will be the more eloquent. And from that witness, change will come.
This is why the annual March for Life, whether in Washington D.C., or in Des Moines, or anywhere else, has grown and affected so many joyful adherents to the cause of Christ. If you can attend any of these marches, I urge you to do so. But above all, pray faithfully for your own conversion, for your family, and for the conversion of the world, so that Christ may be born in every heart, and every heart may one day be joined to his most Sacred Heart.
May God keep you always in his love and peace and bless you with every blessing in this new year of grace.
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City