Saturday, March 22, 2008

From our Archbishop, Shepherd and Teacher...

Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss, as written in The Catholic Voice, Omaha, NE.
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Celebrating Easter in faith: Rejoicing in what the Lord has done for us

Several years ago the novelist Morris West wrote and autobiographical article titled "A View from the Ridge." He said that once we reach a certain age of maturity, there should be only one phrase left in our vocabulary: "Thank you!"

For all of us who live in faith, Easter gives us the best reason in the world to say, "Thank you" to the Father of al light who has sent his Son into our world to be our light.

I am sure that the 800 adults and young people in our archdiocese who will either be baptized at the Easter Vigil or come into full communion with us (if already baptized), and will share the gifts of the Holy Spirit and feed on the body and blood of Jesus for the first time-- I am sure their hearts will be filled with gratitude when they reflect on the journey they have made because of the Lord's love for them and his guidance.


We have reflected this past week on the terrible price Jesus paid for us on the cross, so that we do not have to live in our sins. We are amazed that he loves us so much and that he will go to such lengths to win our love, not only by his sacrifice for us on Calvary, but by his constant effort to entice us to himself at the present time. He constantly reaches out to us, through his living Word in the Scripture and through the sacramental life of the Church, especially the Eucharist, and through the many people who touch our lives with his love and care. Jesus never ceases trying to make us aware of his presence and his desire that we should learn to respond, at least in some small degree, to his love for us.

How else can we explain all the adults and young people who are coming into the Church this Easter? Certainly none of us are capable of drawing these people by ourselves. Catholicism stands in marked contrast to the secular values of our world. The only reason so many people every year are willing to commit themselves to Jesus and to his Church is because of the force of his love that draws them. It is not just the cohesiveness of our teaching and its continuity from the first apostlesthat draws people to the Church. It is not just the fact that we are the largest Christian faith community in the world. People are drawn to the Church, drawn to the Eucharist, by a force beyond themselves. They sense the Lord drawing them to himself in the Church. They recognize that at the very heart of the Church's life is Jesus, present to us, loving us, healing us, constantly drawing us out of the darkness that always threatens to overshadow us.


Scott Hahn, the famous convert and Catholic apologist, remarked recently that if people in general had the opportunity to learn what the Catholic Church really teaches, and had the opportunity to explain that teaching in its development from the first century, most of them would end up embracing Catholicism. But we know there are many obstacles that prevent non-Catholics from taking a serious look at the Church and her teaching. Misinformation about the Church and distortions about her teaching and practices are everywhere in our society. Some of the opposition to the Church is well-intentioned and honest; some of it is dishonest and even diabolical. The Evil One does not want the Church to be strong and unified and influential.

At the same time, we know from experience and revelation that faith is ultimately a gift, a grace from God. It is one thing to examine all the reasons that we believe what we do, and to trace the essentials of our teaching back to the first apostles. But it is quite another thing to be able to say "I believe" when one is confronted with mystery--the Trinity, the incarnation of the Son of God, the Eucharist--all the truths of faith that cannot be understood by our minds alone. God reveals himself to us in his creation, in his prophets of old, and especially in his Son made man, in Jesus. Bu t it is only when a light goes on inside of us and we experience the reality of the truth that has been revealed to us--it is only when we experience the presence and love of the one revealing himself to us and his plan for us, only then does our fiaht come alive and we can cry out, "Yes I do believe, O Lord, help my disbelief!"


For those who will embrace the fullness of Catholic faith in our parishes this Easter weekend, and for the rest of us who have been on this faith journey for years, all of us should be filled with gratitude for what the Lord has done in our lives. Despite our weaknesses and our unworthiness, Jesus constantly draws us to himself by his teaching and his love. Despite the habits of sin in our lives and our own occasional lapses into tepidity and neglect, the Spirit stirs in us, especially at certain seasons of the year when we are vividly reminded of the Lord's love for us.

Our Lenten reflections this year, trying to focus on our journey home to the Father, and recalling the lengths to which Jesus was willing to go to show his love for us--this process helps us to prepare for the joy of Easter. He died for us, he is risen as he promised and he heps us on our way to the Father. This Easter, then should find us filled with gratitude to God for revealing himself to us and his plan for our salvation. And our hearts should be filled with gratitude that we have been gifted with faith so that we can experience his presence and love for us in so many ways, especially in his Eucharist.

Easter is a time for us to recall everything that God has done and is doing in our lives. Easter is a time for us to rejoice and give thanks for our Savior and for the Church he founded for us, and for the gift of faith that helps us to experience Jesus alive in our midst.

So, a very Blessed Easter to all in Northeastern Nebraska who understand what Easter really means to the family of God.


Jesus remember me, when you come into your Kingdom




the mother of this lot said...

A Happy and Peaceful Easter to you and yours Susie!

Joyful Catholics said...

Bless you....we've had a very happy one!

Rich was a sponsor for a Dr. from Iowa, who entered the CC last night at the vigil. It was soooo beautiful! A near 3 hour liturgy! We're so happy for them. His wife, Mary, has been battling breast cancer this past year, so please pray for Ivan and Mary. Thank you.

Tiber Jumper said...

Happy Belated Easter to you and Rich
God bless

Joyful Catholics said...

Thanks TJ. Happy DIVINE MERCY Sunday tomorrow! My favorite day of the year!