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A message from the bishop

Celebrate Easter with a spirit of welcome (March 2016)
 
My dear friends,
 
Easter is the greatest liturgical celebration of the year. Let’s face it. If Christ were not the Son of God and had not risen from the dead – if He were simply a great prophet and teacher – we would have little incentive to celebrate His birth. But God’s ways are not our ways. God’s wisdom is beyond our imagining. One of God’s greatest mysteries is that He sent his beloved son as one like us to suffer and die for our sins. Even more astounding is the fact that it was through Jesus’ suffering and death that He was brought to the glory of the Resurrection. Only God could think of a plan like that!
 
Nor can our human intellect grasp the mysteries of our faith without the aid of grace. Easter proclaims, “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.” Easter boldly announces Christ’s victory over sin and death and ours, too, if we accept Him as our Savior and cooperate with grace so that we might fulfill our destiny to live in union with God and the angels and saints forever. We affirm our belief that our Savior has conquered sin and
death. To know, love and serve God in this life means we will be happy with God in the next.
 
I love Easter for other reasons, too. Easter is not surrounded by the pressure of gift-giving and card-sending. Buying traditional Easter foods and Easter baskets is much more manageable than the Christmas decorations, parties and purchases. We have more time to reflect on what our faith in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead means. The Easter hymns are glorious and triumphant. Spring has arrived and lilies bedeck the sanctuary. The community welcomes its newly baptized members and all of us get a chance to re-enlist as Christians as we solemnly renew our baptismal promises.
 
The larger-than normal crowds tell us: Something real and important is to be found here. The paschal
candle, beautifully decorated and towering in all its height, proclaims Christ is indeed our light. We find
in abundance living water, Easter water, the water Christ promised would quench all fires and slake all thirsts. We must come to the living water! We need the Church. We need to gather as a community with people who believe and remind us of the sacred and the transcendent in our lives. There is in each human heart a restlessness for God because we are made for God. Nothing on earth can satisfy us, despite what our culture may tell us.
 
Peter Maurin, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement, often remarked, “The Gospel is dynamite.” It can be ignited when placed in the right hands. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. People want to be part of something that is life-changing. People will come if they
think they are making a difference rather than simply having their needs met. Many say that they would come to church if invited by a friend – 82% of them, in fact. (Lifeway Research)
 
To parishioners this Easter Sunday, I say: Welcome the person you do not know. This just may be the person who most needs to feel welcomed. Make an effort to greet and help people feel valued and accepted as part of the congregation. If everyone has this spirit of welcoming, then the experience of
community among the participants will grow accordingly.
 
If you have been away from the Church, Christ longs for your return. It is He who said, “Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will give you rest. … My yoke is easy and my burden
light.” Please accept this invitation as an expression of our love and concern. The Church, the community of God’s holy people, is incomplete without you! Consider coming home to Church this Easter where your
faith has its roots. You are in my prayers!
 
Sincerely yours in the Lord,
Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak