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More than 200 pray for state legislators at Virginia Vespers

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RICHMOND — No members of the General Assembly attended Virginia Vespers at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, but as Bishop Michael F. Burbidge told more than 200 people who attended, “They are where they’re supposed to be, and we are where we’re supposed to be — praying for them.”

The legislators were in session that evening “and would probably go late into the morning,” said Jeff Caruso, executive director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, sponsor of the March 5 event.

Bishop Burbidge presided and led prayers and Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond was homilist for the service. Bishop Knestout spoke about the third chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, in which the apostle instructs followers of Christ to put on “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” 

“These are clearly not the virtues of the political or partisan world, where adversarial views are in conflict and unresolved unless one party neutralizes the power of the other,” he said. 

While political life can sometimes be “adversarial and antagonistic,” Bishop Knestout said Christians must take another approach.

“Our Christian faith is meant to shape the political environment in such a way that it can lead to peace and justice,” he said.  “Peace is a fruit of justice, which itself is a cardinal virtue, along with temperance, prudence, and fortitude that spring forth, as all virtues do, from charity.”

Bishop Knestout said that while Americans value “constitutional rights of free speech and liberty,” there has been a “disruption to the context for the exercise of these rights.”

He said media, the internet, self-publishing and blogs have turned the environment into “a Wild West of no-holds-barred rhetoric and ad hominem attacks on anyone seen as holding different political, cultural, economic, religious or moral views from the writers themselves.”

Bishop Knestout said Lent provides an opportunity to examine “our failures, weaknesses and vices.”

“This evening we gather and pray together, even with differing political views, all with the hope that by this Lenten practice of prayer, we might put on the virtues that express the ‘bond of perfection’ (Col 3:14), the communion born of holiness.”

Olszewski is editor of the Catholic Virginian, newspaper of the Diocese of Richmond. 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020