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A message from the bishop

Where Christ has gone, we hope to follow!
(January/February 2015, Lenten message)
 
My dear friends,
 
Here we are in the middle of winter. The Christmas decorations are back in their boxes. New gifts have been blended into our cache of possessions. We have moved from holiday displays to the red hearts of Valentine’s Day. New resolutions are underway. Saving more money, losing weight, getting organized, and exercising, for
example, are all good goals. But none of them are of ultimate value.
 
Liturgically speaking, we now find ourselves in Ordinary
Time. We have just celebrated the Christmas season
with its awesome Good News that God sent us a Savior, his only Son, the Word made Flesh, one like us in all things but sin. We will soon turn our attention to Lent, and then on to Easter, where God’s “Christmas gift” of his Son bears fruit. We call that “fruit” the Paschal Mystery—the salvific death and glorious  resurrection of Jesus Christ.
 
Of all creatures God created, only humans and angels can know and love their Creator. We are created to know God, love God and share in God’s own life. This is the end for which we were created. A wonderful, eternal destiny awaits us if we serve him and respond with faith to his love.
 
But there is not only Good News; there is bad news, too. We all know the story of Adam and Eve. The human family rebelled against God and sinned, breaking the bond of friendship with God and entering into a state of alienation from God, from others, and even from ourselves. We carry the woundedness of our fallen nature into this world, but God’s gift of faith in his Son, freely given to the baptized, overcomes this inclination toward sin and alienation. Through his salvific death Christ has taken away our sin and restored that original blessed relationship with the Father.
 
As we approach the season of Lent, remembering the “bad news” along with the Good News can be helpful for a number of reasons. We have an eternal destiny, and we must make our choices in this life
with a view to that destiny of being with God forever in the company of the angels and saints. The ultimate tragedy is to dieestranged and separated from God. Also,  recalling the “bad news” helps us to remember how good the Good News really is! By his death and resurrection Christ has opened for us the way that leads to heaven. Heaven’s principal blessing is our eternal union with God, in whom alone we can possess the life and happiness for which we were created and for which we long. Finally, we don’t have to wait for heaven to be with God. We can be united with God in prayer, the sacraments, the scriptures, and wherever two or three are gathered in his name. How blessed we are to have so many ways to be one with our Lord and Savior, even now!
 
The season of Lent begins early this year, just four days after St. Valentine’s Day, but it, too, is about love: “God so loved the world that he sent his only son, so that whoever believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16) On Ash Wednesday we will be exhorted to turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel. During Lent we who are made in God’s image discipline ourselves by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving so that we might become more like God, who is Love. In the days ahead let us love God with all that we have and are. Let us love our neighbor as ourselves. Let us humbly confess our sins and acknowledge that we need a Savior! Then we will be ready on Easter Sunday to celebrate the fruit of Christmas and Good Friday by affirming our belief in the resurrection and glorification of Jesus. Where Christ has gone, we hope to follow!
 
Sincerely yours in the Lord,
Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak