10.12.20



From the Office of the Pastor of
Divine Mercy Parish

Reverend Father Robert T. Cooper





Uniting to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Reparation for Sins





To the Parishioners and Friends of Divine Mercy Parish:


Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,


The Church in the Archdiocese of New Orleans suffers from the wounds of many scandals in recent weeks. The continuous wave of revelations has been sickening and disheartening for so many as we confront the suffering of victims, the wickedness of predators, the lack of zealous determination to root out evil in our lives, and the corruption and lukewarmness that not only tolerate such filth and infidelity but sometimes augment it. The Body of Christ continues to experience the weight of these scandals and is in need of Divine Mercy in order to be healed and renewed. In these dark days in which our hearts are broken, bruised, and beaten, we must unite our hearts with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus arose from the apparitions of Jesus in 17th Century France to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Jesus asked that the faithful receive Him in the Eucharist frequently, especially on the First Friday of the month, and observe a Holy Hour, in reparation for human ingratitude and indifference in the face of all that He endured in His Passion for our salvation. Significantly, especially in light of the scandalous wounds to the priesthood, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is also designated as a special means for the sanctification of priests.


Devotional life does not replace what the Catechism of the Catholic Church presents as the four “pillars” of our faith, that is: the creed, the sacraments, a moral life “in Christ” and prayer. However, just as God has a human “heart for us” in the person of Jesus, we have to have “a heart for God” to respond to His divine love and the sacrifice of His Sacred Heart for us on the Cross.


This is connected with the concept of “reparation,” which can be defined as “making amends for a wrong done or for an offense, especially for sin, which is an offense against God.” Just as the sinless Jesus made reparation for our sins on the cross, we, too, in union with Him, can make reparation for all the sin that is in the world.


The enormity of reparation for the recent scandals in our Archdiocese owed to the heart of Christ, and the healing of victims/survivors, can only be fulfilled by what He Himself makes possible by His sacrificial death and pierced side on the Cross, as we pray, “Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us, and help our priests to be truly holy and upright in all they do.”


In the 1928 encyclical “Miserentissimus Redemptor” (“On Reparation to the Sacred Heart”), Pope Pius XI explained why Catholics should offer reparations to Christ’s Sacred Heart:


"The creature’s love should be given in return for the love of the Creator, another thing follows from this at once, namely that to the same uncreated Love, if so be it has been neglected by forgetfulness or violated by offense, some sort of compensation must be rendered for the injury, and this debt is commonly called by the name of reparation."


Reparation also should be understood in the context of the Church being the Mystical Body of Christ. St. Paul described that Christ took on the sins of humanity when He suffered and died upon the Cross. As the Body of Christ, when one person suffers, the entire body also suffers. That is why the Church prays collectively for the sins of all humanity. In the Confiteor at Mass, for example, we pray for each other for the forgiveness of sins that we have committed. And while we do this individually, there is a communal dimension as well.


Some may ask why Catholics should pray and fast in reparation for sins they did not commit. We must recall that Christ offered Himself even though He was innocent for our sins. It is His love and obedience to the Father that makes up for our disobedience. We can join in His sinless offering for the sins of others.


So many of us who are clergy and religious have perhaps forgotten, or else never really been formed by, personal devotions proper to our state in life that are meant to deepen our love for Christ and our intimacy with Mary and the saints, and to inspire in us a real zeal for virtue, self-sacrifice, and pastoral charity. It is imperative in the midst of today’s many challenges to faith and its practice that we rediscover and rekindle Catholic devotional life in a way that is scripturally based and theologically sound. Faith must engage the heart and the mind.


A statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will remain in the sanctuary at Divine Mercy Parish during these dark days to remind us to seek to unite our hearts as a parish family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In this time of great sorrow, let us increase our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: for the forgiveness of sins, for the purification and sanctification of the priesthood, in reparation for all the scandals and sacrileges in the Church, and for the healing of victims and all those affected by recent transgression.


Those who know Church history are aware that throughout the centuries there have been periods of infidelity and iniquity in which spiritual cancer spread throughout the members of Christ’s Mystical Body, the clergy, religious orders, the laity, even the papacy. They also know that in response to such pervasive sinfulness, God was not indifferent and inert. Where sin abounded, His grace super-abounded, witnessed above all in the saints, movements, and devotions that He Himself inspired to bring the Church to her knees in prayerful conversion.


Fidelity is the only adequate response to infidelity, and holiness to sin and corruption. Just as there should be no room in the priesthood for those who would harm the young, so there should be no room for those who are determined to live corrupt, double lives. Hope comes from the recognition that God never abandons His people but remains with us speaking to us in prayer, purifying us through penance, sanctifying us through His sacraments, and desiring to draw good even out of the evil we have committed and endured.


May God grant us the grace to always be a people of hope! “Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us, and help our priests to be truly holy and upright in all they do.”



10.9.20



From the Office of the Pastor of
Divine Mercy Parish

Reverend Father Robert T. Cooper





Responding to the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis and the Disturbing Misconduct in the Life of the Priesthood





To the Parishioners and Friends of Divine Mercy Parish:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

Like Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, so have I wept for the Church, for the laity, and for the innocent victims who have endured so much suffering and pain. The recent reports of clergy sexual abuse coupled with the reports of disturbing sexual misconduct in the very “House of the Lord” has brought great sadness to my priestly heart. As ministers of Christ and His Church, priests promise to lead morally upright lives. Betrayal of those promises deeply wounds the Body of Christ, especially anyone who was violated and all those affected by such immoral actions. Emotions of disbelief, anger, and numbness are understandable in the face of these revelations, sentiments which I personally share with you. Such behavior on the part of the clergy is despicable, reprehensible, and absolutely unbecoming of a man of God.

I know for many people trust in the Church has been eroded because of similar historical scandals, and that trust has now been further diminished. It is unfathomable that, given all that victims have suffered and the Church has endured given all of the work that has been done and continues to be done to protect children, to demand accountability, to provide a safe environment, and to ensure the integrity of the priesthood, still evil has its way. Nevertheless, be assured that the Church cannot and will not tolerate any sexual abuse or misconduct on the part of any cleric.

This is a time for penance in reparation for sins against faith and morals it is a time of sackcloth and ashes for the horrendous sins that have been rampant in our Church for so many years it is a time where we beg for the Lord's grace, once again entrusting ourselves to His mercy, choosing Christ who is our light amidst the darkness, so that together we may move forward with truth, justice, and renewed faith as committed disciples of Jesus. Amidst the darkness of the sexual revolution and all that it has brought about, the Church must decisively return to the truth, dignity, and beauty of human sexuality.

In closing, I ask all of us to remember to pray and stay close to the heart of Jesus, to ask for the humility of Jesus and the gift of loving others as Jesus loves. We must pray for all victims of sexual abuse in our culture today, for their healing and their encounter with Jesus Christ, who can bring healing to them. We must pray for the clergy of the Church, that the Holy Spirit will stir into flame the gifts He has bestowed on them, help them to be faithful to Christ and the Gospel, and to be true servants of the faithful with the heart of Christ. We must pray for the Church, our Mother, that is holy, though having sinners in her midst, and suffers for the offenses of all her members.

In lifting up all affected by these situations, we also lift up one another in prayer, trusting in the healing and reconciliation that only the Lord can give. Be assured of my prayers for you and your families, even as I depend on your good prayers for the renewal of my own priestly life and ministry. In this time of darkness, may we put our faith, trust, and love in Jesus who is our Savior and Redeemer, the one who will free us, and may we live in His truth and light!



8.26.20



From the Office of the Pastor of
Divine Mercy Parish

Reverend Father Robert T. Cooper





On the Threat of Hurricane Laura





To the Parishioners and Friends of Divine Mercy Parish:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

Louisianians and Texans are yet again facing the impact of a powerful and catastrophic hurricane. As Hurricane Laura prepares to move with deadly force through Southwestern Louisiana and Southeastern Texas, we lift up in prayer all of those who will be impacted, asking Almighty God to guide the steady hands of first responders and to widen the hearts of all who are able to be generous to neighbors facing danger, grief, or displacement of any kind during this state of emergency.


While the fury of this Hurricane Season continues, I am reminded of the disciples’ plea to Jesus as a violent storm threatened their lives: ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ (Mk 4, 38). At a time like this, when human lives are disrupted and the mystery of suffering becomes a painful reality for so many, we implore to the one who ‘commands even the winds and the sea’ (Lk 8, 25) to give them strength and protection.


As the impact of Hurricane Laura becomes clearer, Divine Mercy Parish and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School will work closely with local dioceses, Catholic relief entities, and with other organizations to assess the needs on the ground and provide generously for our neighbors in their time of need. Please join me in prayer and fasting for all those who are in the direct path of Hurricane Laura.


Our Lady of Prompt Succor … Hasten to help them!