Bishop celebrates Mass for ‘special angels’

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Focusing on marriage, families and God's "special angels," Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde celebrated the annual Mass for Persons with Disabilities at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Vienna Oct. 4.

In his homily, Bishop Loverde reflected on the two dominant themes found in Sunday's Scripture readings: marriage and the dignity of children.

The Gospel passage in which people brought their children to Jesus so they could be touched by Him reminded the bishop of the recent scene in Philadelphia when Pope Francis got out of his car and walked toward a young man in a wheelchair, embraced him and spoke to him.

"The man's family was in tears, and so was I," the bishop said.

Disabilities Awareness Month, which is celebrated every October, brings a heightened awareness of the "special angels of God in our midst," he said. It invites us to "hold them in prayer and to embrace them with the love of Jesus Christ."

Bishop Loverde thanked the officers of Porto Caravan No. 104 of the Order of Alhambra, especially Grand Commander Bill Mundy, and Leo Alonso, president of Porto Charities, Inc. The organization provides financial support to programs that assist young adults with intellectual disabilities such as the Options programs at Paul VI and Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High Schools.

The bishop also reflected on marriage as God intended from the beginning of creation - the union of a man and a woman.

"Jesus defines what we His followers hold dear about marriage," he said. "It is an essential part of His plan for humanity. The marriage between man and woman is the cornerstone of society.

"Within marriage, man and woman learn to live with each other and to offer themselves up for each other," the bishop said.

The permanence of marriage provides a stable foundation for children, he said.

During the recent World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, Pope Francis spoke from the heart about the beauty and struggles of families.

"This love is truly life-giving and life-sustaining," Bishop Loverde said.

As Jesus said, "Let the children come to Me. The kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015