Reflecting the joy of the greatest victory Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Written by Bishop Robert C. Morlino   
Thursday, Apr. 01, 2010 -- 12:00 AM

This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

I want to wish you all a very blessed Holy Triduum and a very happy Easter. May it be a joyful and prayerful time for you and your family, and may it provide a powerful experience with our Lord Jesus, risen from the dead.

We are called, each and every day, to invite people to meet Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. In a very real way, this is the mission of my episcopacy here — it is the stated mission of my staff, and, by extension, it is truly the mission of each of us here in the 11 counties of south-central Wisconsin.

In order, credibly, to invite our neighbors to meet Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, we have to have met Him. So these days of Holy Week and Easter should be a very special time for each of us, when we intensify that meeting which we are called to have with the risen Christ. The proper celebration of Holy Week and Easter has everything to do with the mission to which each of us, by nature of our Baptism, is called.

We believe as we pray. And disciples of Jesus Christ pray especially hard during Holy Week. That is what I’m hoping that all of us will do, so that we can, with credibility, invite people to experience what we have been given and what we have received.

The joy of winning

After a prayerful Holy Week, we are all the more ready for the victory of Easter. People like to be winners. People are overjoyed when they win the lottery. They like their team to win — as we watch the Final Four and NCAA Championship. Some people really like their own political party to win. Winning is good stuff! Just think back to New Orleans after the Saints won the Super Bowl this year. Remember what winning looks like.

Well, the greatest victory of all is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ — the victory that overcomes this world of ours, the victory that overcomes death. That’s the biggest win there is. Disciples of Jesus ought to look at least as overjoyed as were the people of New Orleans after the Saints won the Super Bowl — and then some! The question is, do we?

Why, when I ask our kids to be Confirmed to stand, do I have to say, “please smile”? (And then they usually laugh and manage a smile.) If they really knew what was about to happen to them, they wouldn’t have to be asked to smile. And if we really were experiencing Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, and that victory, we wouldn’t have to be reminded to smile, we wouldn’t have to be reminded of the joy in our lives, we wouldn’t have to be reminded of the endless hope that we have in Christ. Just think about those people in New Orleans (and nobody is really thinking about it now — everyone is looking to next year’s season).

The Resurrection is the final victory over sin, death, and the world. And the victory is guaranteed; it’s not something that we simply wish for. Christ has won the victory, and we have the grace to make the victory real in the world. The victory is not becoming more real in the world today — and that has to be because those of us who have heard about the victory don’t seem that convinced. We don’t look anywhere close to as happy as those men and women in New Orleans after the Super Bowl.

That’s why praying hard at Holy Week and Easter is a part of our mission in a special way; we believe as we pray. And I’m saying this to myself as well (and especially) because the bishop is the principal witness to the Resurrection in his diocese — so hold me to that! It is a gift and a responsibility.

No matter how bad things look and no matter how hard things get sometimes, in the Church or in our individual lives, Jesus Christ has won that victory — it is guaranteed! We are called to remain faithful and to make that victory ever more fully alive. Jesus has already done the heavy lifting!

Working for unity

In a special way, I would ask each of you to pray this Easter and to work for unity. One of the key things that keeps the victory of Christ from being realized in the world is the lack of unity that is apparent in the Church. Though Jesus has done the heavy lifting — in the carrying of the Cross — we are called to do our small part in taking our own crosses and lifting them as a united People of God.

The source and summit of our unity is the Eucharist, which is always celebrated in union with Benedict our pope and with our bishop. Our Eucharist must always be a communion with the pope and the bishops. There is only one source of unity, the Eucharist, and the Eucharist is our communion with Christ, through the one He has appointed on earth, the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. Our communion is visible, concrete, and real.

So, too, at the heart of our Eucharistic Liturgy is the Creed. Easter is an excellent time to focus on the Creed. It is good for us, once in a while, to go through the whole Creed line-by-line and ask ourselves, “Do I know what that means, and do I believe that?” It’s okay not to know what each line means — that’s why we have the Catechism of the Catholic Church with a whole section on the Creed.

If you’re not sure you know what something means, or maybe if something needs to be reviewed, just look it up, and then ask, “Do I believe that; do I mean it when I say it?” There are more than a few people whose faith gets very weak when it comes to the fourth part of the Creed: I believe in the Church, “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.” And the one visible Church on Earth is where our unity is to be found.

So, let’s take seriously this Holy Week and Easter, praying extra hard! Let us focus on experiencing Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, and let us remember in the Eucharist that we are called to unity — unity in our prayer, unity in our belief, unity in our mission. And let us remember that, in our mission, the victory has already been won!

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!