Focusing on death, life, and mercy Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Thursday, Apr. 11, 2013 -- 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.

“Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: The Prince of Life, who died, reigns immortal.”

“Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining. Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!”

(Easter Sequence – Roman Missal, 1964 translation).

I choose those two lines to focus upon in this Easter Season, because they are exactly reflective of the themes that our Holy Father, Pope Francis struck during many of the early days of Easter. He has asked the question and raised the issue from Scripture, “why do you seek the living among the dead (Lk 24:5)?”

“Death and life have contended,” and life won out, so, the Holy Father asks, echoing the message of the angel, “why do you seek the living among the dead?”

A second point that the Holy Father has focused upon is reassuring us, once again, that no one with a good and open heart is outside the bounds of the mercy of Jesus Christ, won by His death on the Cross, and confirmed by His Resurrection.

And so, we’ve got two words, or groups of words: “death and life,” and “mercy,” on which we should meditate in this Easter season.

Where is mercy in the world?

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Christ died that there might be mercy. Let’s calmly look at our world today, and let’s look around for mercy.


Is there mercy in that demilitarized zone between North and South Korea? Is there mercy in Syria or Afghanistan? Is there mercy for Christians in Egypt?


We can look around all we want, but in the end we need to ask ourselves: is there mercy in the United States? Here and there we can find mercy. But, is there mercy for the pre-born in the United States? Is there mercy for those who want to uphold the truth about marriage? Is there mercy for those who want to live out their freedom of conscience?

Culture of death in America

In so many ways, the culture of death in the United States deserves its name. We live in a culture of death and we ask ourselves today, “why do you seek the living among the dead?”

Growing numbers of people indicate that they’re comfortable changing the definition of marriage to one that is not life-giving; that they’re comfortable with a culture of contraception that blocks life; they’re comfortable with religious freedom (which leads to eternal life) being squelched, and they’re comfortable with a culture of abortion and euthanasia. People are comfortable with a culture of death.

But, we cannot seek the living among the dead, which is what those comfortable people are doing. They’re trying to find life in a culture of death. I have no doubt that many of them are well-intentioned and trying to find life, but to those who know the Prince of Life, it makes no sense. Why seek the living among the dead — this is Pope Francis’s question, and our question.

When we look around at the absence of mercy, and we look around at the culture of death, and we look around at a mass media who continually distort what’s going on in the world and what the truth of things is, we cannot doubt what is at work.

False controversy about Pope Francis

The gift of the mass media to the Church for Easter — the time when we celebrate life overcoming death — has been to start a completely needless controversy over the washing of feet on Holy Thursday

Give me a break! “Pope washes women’s feet…the last straw for traditionalists,” headlines read. Give me a break, it’s not even the first straw, other than the media grasping at straws!

When the Holy Father makes an exception in very special circumstances, all of the sudden the media want to generate a world-wide sensation and use that to deepen the divisions in the Church.

We should find our ways to tell them that we’re really tired of it, because given the lack of mercy all over the place, the last thing that we need are the daily distortions fed to us by the mass media, one after another.

Satan is trying to distract and divide us

There is an underlying tactic of division that people are trying to foist upon us with regard to Pope Francis — trying to divide Pope Francis from Pope Benedict, trying to divide me from Pope Francis — this is a lie designed so that, as we try to fight the culture of death, we become unsure of what we’re fighting!

There is no divide! There may be differences in personalities, but we are all servants of the same Prince of Life and His Church!

Satan is a liar and the Father of Lies, so let us not be distracted or confused by the very lies that play right into his plan of distracting us from the messages of life and of mercy.

Reality of the easter season

This is the Easter Season! “Death and life have contended in a combat stupendous and the Prince of Life, who gave Himself over to death, conquered death and remains immortal!” Do we really believe that?! If we really believe that, we don’t get discouraged over the culture of death.

If we really believe that Christ has conquered death, we never lose hope. We are like a football team who is getting bumped and bruised all over the place on the field, receiving an endless number of concussions, really taking a beating, but knowing in the end that we shall win.

That’s who we are. How do you play, even if you’re getting beat up but sure that you’re going to win? You play with confidence and not discouragement.

Our efforts must be full of faith and hope

That’s what we should look like. That’s what it means in 2013 to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Despite the bumps and bruises from the culture of death, we believe that in the end there is new life, that, as scripture says, “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him (Rev 1:7, et al.),” and, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2:10-11, et al),” and that His truth has utterly destroyed the culture of death. That is the victory and the home for which we are destined, no place else.

And so, let our efforts be filled with Resurrection faith. We don’t want to go about this like certain politicians, because clearly they’re watching the poll numbers, and some of them take the earliest opportunity to switch their stances.

Proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the prince of life

We don’t go at this like politicians. We go at this as those who are baptized into Christ, those who have died with Him and are to be raised with Him, those whose victory is assured — that’s who we are.

And as we go forth into this world in this Easter season, and every day, let our lives look like that. We’re not going to seek the living among the dead, we’re not going to seek the living in the culture of death, and we’re not going to stand by while people seek life in a culture of death.

We’re going to tell out, with unfailing conviction and love, that Jesus Christ, the Prince of Life, is Lord. Thank you for reading this.

Christ is Risen, indeed He is Risen, Praised be Jesus Christ!