In the course of his final address as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday, Archbishop Jose Gomez recalled the universal call to holiness through the words of one of his favorite Americans.
Servant of God Dorothy Day, in one of her retreat notes, wrote: “There is room for greater saints now than ever before. Never has the world been so organized — press, radio, education, recreation — to turn minds away from Christ. … We are all called to be saints.”
The Archbishop of Los Angeles recalled Nov. 15 that “Dorothy Day wrote these words in the early 1940s, long before big tech and the internet, so we understand [that] the challenges we face today are nothing new.”
Gomez noted that the Servant of God Dorothy Day is among his favorite Americans, and the quote he used seems to be among his favorites, having previously used it in addresses from Fort Wayne to Houston.
“What also strikes me about her words is her confidence,” he said. “Dorothy Day was convinced that only saints can change the world. And she’s right. Holiness has always been the healing force in human history. The kingdom grows through men and women who are passionately loving the world, as God so loved the world.”
Today’s need, Gomez said, is “to raise up a new generation of saints, holy men and women in every area of American life.”
The archbishop then turned to what he called “one of the most moving movements in the history of this episcopal conference,” the June 1989 address of Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman to the assembly.
She urged the unity of the Church, so as to “build together a holy city, a new Jerusalem, where they will know we are his because we love one another.”
Gomez commented: “Brothers, that is what this moment is all about; it is about remembering that we are in this together, that we belong to God, and that we are called to be saints. It’s about each one of us doing what God is calling us to do to build his kingdom.”
The Church’s unity is founded on the Eucharist, the archbishop stated.
“What holds us together, what makes us one, is the Eucharist, which is why our Eucharistic revival is so important. The Eucharist is the mystery of our creator’s love, of his desire to share his divine life in friendship with each one of us; so let us open the doors in all our churches, let us invite our people back, to see how much Jesus loves them.”
Gomez’s final reflection in Baltimore came from Venerable Frederic Baraga, the first bishop of what is now the Diocese of Marquette.
Engraved on the wall of a chapel in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is this prayer from the first Yooper bishop: “This is all I desire, to be where God wants me to be.”
“Brothers,” Gomez concluded, “let us have one only desire, to be where God wants us to be, and to do what God is calling us to do.”
The outgoing USCCB president had opened his address noting the noisy media culture which has fostered what Pope Francis has called “not an age of change, but the change of age.” This change of age is “a struggle going on for the human heart,” Gomez reflected, a moment when we are called to deeper conversion, to sanctity.
His answer to that universal call to holiness was to present the witness of two women and one man, each of whom has an open cause for beatification.
Their examples, he said, can teach us today what it means to shine the light of Christ “into every area of our culture and society.”