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A message from the bishop

We are an Easter People (April 2015)
 
My dear friends,
 
Lent and Holy Week each year offer us a unique vantage point from which to embrace our faith. All the liturgies, rituals and prayers lead us to the profound realization: Jesus Christ, in a great act of love and total self-giving, bore the sins of world and sacrificed his life so that we might have eternal life. Through Christ’s victory over death and his glorious resurrection, we believe sin and death do not have the final word. We rejoice in this victory! The return of the triumphant Alleluia at Mass on Easter Sunday is our resounding proclamation that “Christ is truly risen!”
 
Other proclamations we make on Easter Sunday publicly testify to what we know and believe. On Easter Sunday, in place of professing the Nicene, or Apostle’s Creed, we renew our baptismal promises. If we take the words seriously, this is a very profound moment. We are able to hear our own voice speak our commitment to our Catholic faith: Do you reject Satan? I do! And all his works? I do! And all his empty promises? I do! Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth? I do! After our verbal recommitment to the truth of our faith, we are sprinkled with water to remind us that we have been saved through the waters of baptism. We died and rose to new life through our baptismal waters. We see this most clearly during the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, when catechumen are immersed during baptism. They rise from the waters of baptism to the new life and light that Christ gives them. This is a great, life-giving moment for the Church! As God’s holy people, we are encouraged that the Holy Spirit has drawn others into the Catholic family of faith, and that evangelization through the voice of the Catholic Church is bearing fruit! Throughout our diocese, at practically every parish on Holy Saturday night, someone has been received into the Catholic faith. This is a cause for rejoicing because the Spirit has influenced them in such a way that they desire the gift we have been given. We gladly share it with them!
 
One of the most compelling indications of the truth of the resurrection is the change that Christ brings about in each one of us. Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension to glory give us a new perspective on our lives here on earth. When we live with that kind of awareness, our lives are changed. We have a new focus; and ongoing conversion keeps us attentive to that focus. It’s like a compass finding true north. Once you find true north, you can find your way with God’s help.
 
We need that direction in our lives because life is challenging and even hard! Sin tugs at us and tempts us to believe that life should always be easy and pleasurable. But if you follow Christ, there are going to be challenges and adventures. Our life is not about us;  it’s about Christ’s life in us! Acquiring this insight and living it out can be a moment of great liberation. When challenges do come our way, we will remember that not only did Christ endure the cross, he also triumphed over it. Jesus instructs: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt. 16:24). Suffering will come into our lives, some of which we bring upon ourselves through sinful behavior, and some which we did not seek out but are a result of the circumstances of life. Regardless of suffering’s origin, if we suffer with Christ, we will rise with Christ. We may be turned off course toward sinful, self-centered things, but, through the grace and help that Christ offers us, we will grow stronger because of the challenges that we face and overcome. We cannot know what we are going to face in life, but God journeys with us. We are indeed an Easter people!
 
Sincerely yours in the Lord,
Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak