DARLINGTON -- "When we're removed from the beauty of animal life, plant life, the beauty of the seasons, the beauty of rural life . . . it's harder to see the face of God," Bishop Robert C. Morlino said during the diocesan Mass for rural life.
"And that's why rural life is so important, especially in a place like the Diocese of Madison," he said.
The bishop highlighted that importance through his presence at the Mass and his blessing of the animals at the rural parish of Holy Rosary in Darlington October 4.
Seven priests concelebrated at the Mass: Frs. Randy J. Budnar, James H. Murphy, Monte E. Robinson, Bernard E. Rott, Francis J. Steffen, Bart D. Timmerman, and David A. Wanish, all from rural parishes in Columbia, Grant, and Lafayette Counties.
This was the first rural life Mass held in a decade, and its revival, some said, is a reflection of the growing concern for the disappearing farming community.
Father Rott, the director of Rural Life for the diocese, said that the Mass helped to highlight the diocese's connection with rural life. It helps to make you stop and think about the need to look upon all life as sacred, and ask how we treat the land, he said.
"The whole sacredness of God's creation . . . that needs to be there," Father Rott said. "If we lose that connection to the earth, to all other life, that diminishes the responsibility for human life.
"Rural life does give you that connection," he said.
Close to the land
The Mass was held on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, and Bishop Morlino talked at the beginning of his homily about St. Francis' connection to animals and the earth.
The saint, most famous for his love of animals, was so at peace with God that he was at peace with all creatures, with all of the beautiful things in the universe, and with himself, Bishop Morlino said. Full story ...
The congregation at the Mass, which was concelebrated by Msgr. George M. Hastrich, pastor emeritus, and Msgr. Kevin D. Holmes, pastor of St. Patrick Parish, where the Mass was held, was a mixture of those pregnant, families, the elderly, and the physically disabled.
But they had all gathered to pray for the respect of the dignity of the human person.
As Catholics, that prayer is the first step to a just society, Bishop Morlino said at the beginning of his homily - voting for life is the second.
He spoke about abortion, and its impact on society, starting in the 1970s with Roe vs. Wade. Legalized abortion made it seem as if human life were expendable, he said.
"If human life can be expendable, then democracy could be undermined, because democracy rests on the dignity of every person," he said.
His also reiterated the arguments against embryonic stem cell research.
"You and I have to stand up as we pray and as we vote, to promote the truth of embryonic stem cell research, which offers no promise," he said. Full story ...
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