EMMITSBURG, Md. — Bishop Neal J. Buckon told Massgoers at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Oct. 3 that “what seems impossible in our culture, Jesus makes possible through grace.”
“Lifelong fidelity is a grace from God. We have multiple relationships in our life such as lawyer and client, doctor and patient, employer and employee,” he said in his homily.
“Only one is traced by Genesis to the hand of God. Only one is marked by lifelong fidelity,” he said. “Only one is marked by loyalty to only one individual and that is marriage.”
Bishop Buckon, an auxiliary of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, was the main celebrant of the annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services Mass at the shrine in Emmitsburg.
The special Mass brings together members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and Public Health Services with family and friends to join in prayer to thank St. Elizabeth Ann Seton for her protection and ask for her continued intercession for the country, the safety of all those at sea and for those who have fallen while serving their country.
Mother Seton is the patroness of the sea services of the United States. She had strong connections to those who spend their lives at sea and those devoted to public health. Two of her sons, Richard and William, served in the Navy.
The congregation also prayed for more Catholic priests to serve as military chaplains. Today, the Navy has only 41 active Catholic priests for its roughly 107,000 Catholic sailors and Marines, which means that one priest serves more than 2,000 men and women.
In his homily, Bishop Buckon said, there is “a larger issue” that “goes beyond marriage to all of the serious commitments we make in our life,” relating to the Gospel reading was from St. Mark in which the Pharisees challenged Jesus about divorce.
“We should be careful about the promises and commitments we make to God, to His Church and to others. Commitments, large and small, shape who we are,” he said.
He stressed the importance of people being able to trust one another’s word — something that often seems to be in short supply.
“The media are filled with the stories of broken promises by builders, politicians, employers, pension fund managers and insurance companies,” Bishop Buckon said. “The crisis of fidelity in marriage is a symptom of a pandemic infidelity in our time.”
“Jesus says that with His grace we can be different,” he continued. “People should be able to trust our promises. Our word should be as strong and reliable as the wood of pew in which we sit. That is one way we can be countercultural.”