Finding hope, healing in the Resurrection Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Written by Bishop Robert C. Morlino   
Thursday, Apr. 15, 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.

On behalf of all the priests of the Diocese of Madison, and behalf of all my staff, I want to promise our sincere and continued Easter prayers, in this Resurrection season. Each one of you has our prayers for health, safety, and above all, deeper union with Christ. I beg you, too, to offer your Easter prayers for us, because each of us and our Church certainly always stand in need of prayer. I wanted to share with you here a few of the thoughts I offered at the Easter Vigil this year.

We celebrated Easter Sunday this year on April 4th — that day on which Christ was raised from the dead, the day which changed history forever. In some ways I had hoped to see some large signs and advertisements on Easter Sunday about how the Resurrection of Jesus Christ had happened and how we celebrated our new life on April 4. Instead, all the signs told me that April 3 was the launch of iPad! That tells me — and it should tell you — something significant about the mission that Jesus Christ places in our hands this Easter and everyday.

The gift of light and time

We hear, each Easter Vigil, the beautiful account of creation. At the very first instance of creation God says, “Let there be light!” and there was light. We often forget the rest of that first creative act of God. We tend to go on to the water, and the plants and animals, and creeping things, and finally, the pinnacle of creation, the human person. But, when God said, “Let there be light!” we also hear “and there was evening and morning, the first day.” At the precise moment that God created light, He also created time. Once there was light, there were immediately light and darkness, there was evening and morning, and there was the measure of time.

Light and time go together. Just as in the beginning we needed light to see the waters, and the plants and animals, and — especially — the human person in a created body, we need the Light of Christ to see the Truth of things in our world today. And we need that light very desperately. The Light of Christ is the Truth Who shines on every human being that comes into the world. Only in Christ can we know the Truth that the Creator meant us to know when He created the universe. Christ is the new Light.

How does the gift of time work itself out? How does time pass? Time passes and history happens because of the free choices of human beings. What drives forward history is freedom — human beings acting freely under the Light of the Truth. Time only makes sense if there is light, that is, Truth. And the Light of Christ strengthens and teaches, through our human freedom, the truth of what we are to do in time.

Light, time, truth, freedom — remember these things. That is the very core of the creation that we celebrate in our Easter — the first creation and the new creation which comes when the first among many is raised from the dead in Jesus Christ. Freedom requires Truth, just as time needs light to be time at all. Without the light, time cannot be time. The measure of time doesn’t work without the light and the darkness. Without the Truth, freedom makes no sense either.

In this day and age, we’ve got to reach out with love and invite our sisters and brothers to see that the freedom that they so cherish (one of the few things our culture seems to care about is freedom) is only authentic under the light of Truth, just as time is only real when there is light. Think about that.

Profaning the Name of the Lord

At our Easter Vigil we also hear the beautiful exhortation from the Prophet Ezekiel, who says to the Israelites, “you have profaned the name of the Lord.” The very people who were saved at the Passover have profaned the Name of the Lord. And so what is God going to do about that? The Lord doesn’t think that those who profane His Name merit anything spectacular, because they don’t. So the Lord doesn’t say to Ezekiel, “tell the people that because I feel sorry for them, because they go around profaning my name, I will restore holiness.” Instead, the Lord says, “for the sake of my Holy Name,” not for the sake of those profaners of it, “I will prove my holiness, which you have profaned, Oh Israel…through you!” That applies to all of us! Each of us has profaned the Name of the Lord, and yet we are enlightened and restored in holiness, because the Lord wants to prove His holiness, through us!

What does that remind us of? Doesn’t that remind us of our Church at the present moment? The stories in the news these days are, for the most part, old stories. But they’re all over the place — stories about how Catholic priests have profaned the Name of the Lord. We are the new Israel. Just as ancient Israel profaned the Name of the Lord, the new Israel profanes the Name of the Lord — we are no better.

We can only say, “I’m sorry,” so many times. We have said it, we say it again, and we mean it. But, the people who need to hear our apology the most don’t consider it enough, and they never will. And they are right — an apology isn’t enough. But we don’t have anything else to give them, only our sincere sorrow and whatever help we can give for victims. These victims have been victimized by those in the Church who profaned God’s Holy Name — there’s no question about that. There is no question about responsibility and there is no question about sorrow.

Each member of the Church feels sorrow, and the leaders of the Church feel it most profoundly — but sorrow is never going to be enough. What we have to do for ultimate healing is to allow God to fulfill the promise that he made to Ezekiel, to prove His holiness through us. God says to us, “you, the community of baptized believers; you, the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church: I will prove my holiness through you! The very ones who profaned my holy name will become the proof of my holiness!” What can bring that about? Only the resurrection! And that’s what we got at Easter.

The only reality that could make us the place where the One whose Name we profaned is made holy — where we are the proof of the holiness of the One who’s Name we profaned — has to be the resurrection. And that is why in our Baptism we die with Christ to be raised with Him to new life — so that the Lord can prove His Holiness through you and through me, knowing that we profaned His Name.

The miracle of the Resurrection

That is the miracle of the Resurrection. That is how powerful it is — and it is even more powerful than that. Look at St. Peter in the Gospel passage we read on the Easter Vigil. Peter is the only one of the Apostles who, when he hears about Jesus having been raised, goes to take a look. All of the rest think it is nonsense — it says so right in the Gospel. The women came to tell the Apostles that Christ had risen and appeared, and the other Apostles refused to believe, calling it nonsense. Peter is the only one of them that goes to take a look, and Peter sees and believes.

Every other Apostle got it wrong, and Peter got it right! The spirit of Peter is ALIVE in Pope Benedict XVI and there are plenty of forces in this world that would love to stifle that spirit. But it can’t be done. The Resurrection power of Jesus Christ is greater than anyone, including Satan who wants to overcome the witness of Peter to the Resurrection. That power cannot be overcome; God will prove the holiness of His own name, through Peter, through Pope Benedict, and through you and me when we stand firmly, and clearly, and strongly with him.

Let us rely on the tremendous power of the Resurrection unleashed on Easter (a power far greater than every iPad in the universe, put together). Let us rely on the great power of the Resurrection to do what seems impossible, that the Lord, for the sake of His Holy Name, will prove His holiness, through you and me, the very ones who profaned Him. In God’s own time and in God’s own way, the Truth of that victory will be unmistakable to all. No one can stop the power of Jesus Christ at work in His Church, through the successors of the Apostle Peter — no one.

Thank you for reading this. Renewed Easter blessings! Christ is Risen! Praised be Jesus Christ!