Our Catholic faith is rich with images and as I take on this new role of shepherding the Diocese of Tyler I am aware that many new images are entering my day to day vocabulary.

The images of the zucchetto and pectoral cross depicted in the attached photograph are only a few of the ?new things? that I will have to get used to. As I?ve mentioned to friends and family I have tended to travel pretty lite. I?ve never worn hats or rings but I will necessarily have to become more comfortable with both. I realize even as I share this reflection that I truly am ?only just beginning? to understand the impact of the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to call me to the Episcopacy. The miter, crozier and episcopal ring that I will receive as part of the Ordination Rite bring even more beautiful imager and profound meaning that speaks to the work that I am called to take on.

As you can probably imagine it is easy to get caught up in all of these images and signs of the office of bishop but I ask you to pray with me that I may stay focused on the most important elements of what these images represent in our ancient Catholic tradition. As I look at the simple silver cross that I have been wearing since the announcement on September 29, it occurs to me that I have seen much more ornate and beautiful crosses. Many crosses are layered in gold and encrusted with precious stones. In a very real sense this ornamentation is appropriate because the cross represents the greatest treasure of human history. On the other hand it is important to remember the origin of the cross in Christian tradition. Staying focused on the reality that the cross of Jesus Christ was a rough wooden instrument of torture and death calls us back to the most powerful elements of what the cross represents.

Catholic art has had a unique role in the history of civilization as we have seen the mysteries of God and the mission of His Son woven into virtually every aspect of human life and artistic expression. This is truly quite appropriate as we listen to the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that every element of our human journey is to be transformed by the truth he has lived for us all. When we see a beautiful piece of art such as a golden crucifix or a beautiful marble altar let us remember that these images are very appropriate as they depict treasures beyond price but let us afford them the greatest power by allowing them to remind us of the simple elements in the life of our Lord and Savior that they represent.

God bless you all and let us continue to pray for one another.

Diocese of Tyler


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