February 2, 2018

Archbishop reached out to the faithful through his columns

On Nov. 20, 2006, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein signs a copy of Still Seeking the Face of the Lord, his second collection of the columns he wrote for The Criterion during his 19 years as the spiritual leader of the Church in central and southern Indiana. (File photo by Mary Ann Garber)

On Nov. 20, 2006, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein signs a copy of Still Seeking the Face of the Lord, his second collection of the columns he wrote for The Criterion during his 19 years as the spiritual leader of the Church in central and southern Indiana. (File photo by Mary Ann Garber)

By John Shaughnessy

Even though he never considered himself as a writer, Archbishop Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein faithfully wrote a weekly column in The Criterion during his 19 years as the spiritual leader of the Church in central and southern Indiana.

He viewed the effort as a way to help the people of the archdiocese in “Seeking the Face of the Lord,” the title he gave to his weekly column, a title that matched his approach to his life.

“On a weekly basis, I hope to do some down-to-earth teaching myself, teaching which might offer encouragement, inspiration and also a challenge for the way we live our faith and seek the faith of the Lord together in central and southern Indiana,” he wrote in his first column to the people of the archdiocese on Sept. 18, 1992.

In honor of that commitment and his life, The Criterion is sharing excerpts from his columns on a wide variety of topics and issues.

The dignity of life

“Mother Teresa has it right. If people are willing to dispose of a helpless child in the womb, they will neglect or abuse or dispose of just about anyone. Yet I cannot believe the majority of our society is so callous. I believe we are dealing with a matter of ignorance on the part of a lot of people. And that is where we come in. Each of us, in our own simple ways and in our own spheres of influence [especially in our homes], can help tell the truth about our respect for every individual from womb to tomb.”

The final fact of death

“At some unknown moment, all that we know and all that we experience in the stuff of life comes down to a final fact—we return to dust and move on to a life without tears. Our Lenten observance is a call to get things straight about our view of life and who we are. God is God, and I am not. I am not the center of reality. This life is but the threshold to eternal happiness.”

A mother’s last note of love

“Recently, I found the last letter Mom wrote three months before she died. In a shaky hand, she told how pleased she and Dad were about my priestly ministry. And she added, ‘But you don’t always have to be extraordinary. We love you as you are.’ Prayer, concern without strings, and ‘being there’ is what our youth need. I pray for some of Mom’s wisdom and simplicity.”

The most telling question

“Every human faces a serious question. Indeed—witness Judas—it can be the most telling question in all of life: Do I believe the good in me is deeper than the evil? Judas could not say yes—and so he could only despair. Do we believe the inner light is more powerful than the shadow side of us? We must believe so because of a simple fact: We are created in God’s image; God is present to each and every one of us despite our sinfulness; God has loved us into being; God who is love does not abandon the good he has loved into creation, and that includes us.”

Living the gift of Christmas

“Those of us who know the meaning of the stable and the simple birth of the Savior have a special obligation to our troubled world. The torch has been handed on to us. We are called to be ‘Disciples in Mission,’ evangelizers. We are called to bring the Light of Christ and the Word to our world. Christ once said the world would know we were his if we have love, one for another.”

Making visits to inmates

“A young man whose horizon is defined by the four walls of a tiny cell on death row asked once again to be made right with God. Burdened by the specter of the death penalty, I think he senses the true meaning of freedom—that of heart and soul, and that it comes with the merciful forgiveness of sin. Jeff knows that only God can give the freedom that counts. He is one of us, and he appreciates our prayers.”

The power of the sacraments

“I don’t believe it is possible to walk against the cultural stream of our secularized society for very long without the strength of the sacraments of the Church. Christ gave us the sacraments to nourish us and strengthen us as pilgrims on the journey of life. We need the strength of the Eucharist, of penance and reconciliation and of the sacrament of confirmation.”

Finding the face of the Lord

“Even now, Jesus is among us in simplicity and poverty. We need only look into each other’s eyes and into our own souls to catch a fleeting glimpse of Jesus in our workaday lives. And is it not true that once in a while he surprises us with some wonder?” †

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