|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 the Fourth Sunday of Lent, we celebrated the theme “Laetare,” which expresses our anticipation of Easter joy, a joy which strengthens us to enter into the depth of each mystery of Holy Week, culminating in the great celebration of the Resurrection itself.
In anticipation of Easter, I find it necessary in this column to reflect on one of the ancient Antiphons from the Eastern Church liturgy: “Let us call even those who hate us our sisters and our brothers, for Christ the Almighty is risen.”
It is no secret, nor is it merely my personal opinion, that our dear state of Wisconsin stands in desperate need of Resurrection healing. The divisions wrought by the contesting factions in terms of proper union representation and activity truly are profound. Many have observed an “unparalleled bitterness” residing in the hearts of our citizens. I am even aware of situations where marriages are threatened because one spouse is on the “side” of the unions and the other on the “side” of the governor.
It goes without saying that some in Wisconsin, particularly in the Dane County area, take their politics too seriously, and some Catholics are much more committed to their political concerns than they are to their faith. This, unfortunately, contributes to the overall sense of “unparalleled bitterness” to which so many have referred in recent days. Therefore, it is more than necessary for us as Catholics, to stand up at Easter time and act as the leaven in the dough, a leaven which actually deflates this particular intense division.
Of course, since we Catholics are divided among ourselves, the power of our mission is lessened. But Christ is greater than our problems, and all things are possible for Him. The current division between those who support the governor and those who support the unions must be overcome, because, in so many instances, it expresses and intensifies the divisions that already exist among us Catholics. So we must be the leaven in the dough, proclaiming, by our actions and words, that it is possible for us to call even those who hate us our sisters and our brothers, because Christ the Almighty is risen!
Hateful and uncivil words must be avoided at such a delicate time, let alone hateful and provocative actions. We have seen this boiling cauldron cause the inability of our State Senate to follow its proper procedures recently, and we have seen a Supreme Court election turned into a spectacle. We good-hearted citizens of Wisconsin deserve better.
This is a time for the kind of healing which is impossible for men, but indeed possible for God, in the Glory of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As we approach Holy Week and Easter, this current situation in Wisconsin provides us with an opportunity really to put our Resurrection faith into action, by our words and deeds. If we would strive together to do this, refraining from any hateful word or action or partisanship, far more is possible than we might believe, for the good of our state and for the good of our country, whose eyes are very much focused on Wisconsin these days, as are indeed the eyes of the whole world.
Let us pray that we have the courage to be civil and restrained, and encourage others to do so in the days ahead. Let us make our goal that Jesus Christ be victorious in Wisconsin, rather than any other individual or faction. Let us, from the heart, really call even those who hate us our sisters and our brothers.
Thank you for reading this. God bless you and your loved ones. May you have a truly blessed Holy Week and Easter. Praised be Jesus Christ!