Light will overcome darkness through faith Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Written by Bishop Robert C. Morlino   
Thursday, Apr. 09, 2015 -- 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.

Dear Friends,

Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen! Let the whole world shine forth with joy! Alleluia!

In these days we recall the ultimate reality of our faith and the source of our joy and hope. Jesus Christ, in His victory over sin and death, has won the victory for each of us and for the whole world. The powers of sin and death are but passing things, which shall ultimately hold no power over the Creator of the world, and His Son, sent to redeem it.

Our Easter faith

As I mentioned in my homily at the Chrism Mass this past week, the realities of our Easter faith are essential to keep in mind, especially as we are living in the shadow of the horrible episode in the French Alps, wherein a plane was deliberately destroyed by one of the pilots. The man was sick, we pray for him and we pray for those whom he killed, 150 in total.

There is a great deal of effort being expended attempting to determine what led to this horror. And indeed, there seems to be some serious, clinically-diagnosed depression at play here.

Those who know me well, know that I am a great supporter of the medical arts. The Father created humankind with the faculties to learn a great deal about our own make-up and the scientific powers to address so many of these ailments. So long as the methods uphold the dignity of all human life (the ends do not justify the means), we, as people of faith, should value and take advantage of that which science has to offer for our wellbeing.

That being said, in the case of this young German pilot, there is more than simply brain chemistry at play (though it seems there was that too). As a people of faith, as a people who value the full human person, and who understand creation as more than just physical accident, we recognize the important interplay between mind and body, between one person and the community, between the present age and the eternal.

We know that at play here was far more than one sick individual and his depression. And it’s important for us to address the fact that so much of the healing needed in our world involves mind, body, and spirit.

Escaping reality with violence

When I speak to Confirmation candidates, I usually speak of the temptation to get discouraged in this world, and the means people choose to “escape.”

It used to be that people thought it was enough to escape from their troubles through alcohol, through sex, through funny cigarettes, and that was bad enough. Those who were discouraged would just enter into some artificial, temporary paradise and try to cope with their situation (in vain). But, in recent times, the great escape route, the drug of choice, is turning out to be violence.

Violence is not only where one harms oneself or takes one’s own life, but one somehow feels justified in taking 150 people with himself.

That is a sign of the darkness of the culture of death. A sign of the deep, deep darkness of evil. A sign of the deep, terrible world of Satan himself. Satan is the great deceiver who convinces those already tempted toward despair that there is nothing left for them, and that nothing holds any value. That is the sad reality highlighted by the horror in the French Alps, but which is creeping in on us even in our own communities and homes.

Fighting evil through faith

But, just as we gathered for our Chrism Mass, and just as we will have gathered for our Holy Week and Easter Celebrations, we continue to gather each Sunday and each day of the week, because we are able to do something about that evil.

That is why we gather around the altar of Jesus Christ. That is why we go through the “trouble” of taking and trying to live up to the name “Christian.” We love our faith and our Sacraments because they speak of the love of Christ, the light who overcomes the darkness!

When we gather in our churches, when we encounter Christ through His Sacraments and His Church, we are to be renewed in our relationship with Him and in our realization that we are not alone.

Escaping through Christ

The only “escape” we need is into the loving arms of Him who loved us from the start and who loves us in the here and now. That faith and abandonment to God will lead us to a true, permanent paradise — Heaven.

When we gathered for the Chrism Mass, I reminded the priests and the people there (representing every parish in the diocese), that we love the sacred chrism — especially as priests.

We love the oil of catechumens. We love the oil of the sick. We love them, because through them and through their use, light overcomes darkness and love overcomes hate. Beauty overcomes the ugliness of sin and violence in our world. Through those wonderful oils, all of the baptized are given the option to choose Heaven, to choose the good.

Through the wonderful oil of chrism, we priests are able to offer the Eucharist. And that indeed is our strongest weapon against the forces of evil. Pope Emeritus Benedict once said, very beautifully, that the Eucharist is the explosion of the Good in the heart of the world, in the heart of being.

He said the Holy Mass is “like inducing nuclear fission in the very heart of being — the victory of love over hatred, the victory of love over death. Only this intimate explosion of the Good conquering evil can then trigger the series of transformations that little by little will change the world.”

Unleashing explosion of Good

Through the Holy Oils, blessed and consecrated at the Chrism Mass, your priests and I are called, even daily, to unleash the explosion of the Good in the heart of the world, in the heart of being. That means, the goodness and the power of the Risen Christ are unleashed throughout all creation — the Eucharist is cosmic!

The Resurrection power of Jesus Christ is unleashed through the Eucharist everywhere as goodness explodes in the heart of all creation — in the heart of all believers and especially in the heart of every single priest.

The Church recommends that priests celebrate Mass every day, even if the priest is the only human being physically present in the chapel. (All the better, sometimes, because the priest can focus on the fact that every last angel and every last saint is with him in the chapel, even though there are no other human beings physically there.)

But how important it is, given the power and the depth of darkness and evil, how important it is for the Good to explode through that representation of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ over and over and over again. That explosion, well executed, can overcome the darkness of sin, the darkness of the world, the darkness of death.

As I said to my brother priests last week, “Hands are laid on you, and your hands are anointed so that your hands unleash that explosion of the Good in the heart of being, in the depth of all creation, and especially in your own heart! When you unleash that explosion in your own priestly heart, you cannot be defeated by anyone or anything! Not by poor political decisions that are made every day in our country that further the cause of darkness. Not by anyone! Not by anything!”

If we priests realize that our anointed hands are able to unleash that infinite power of the Good in the heart of all being, of all creation, we can never really get discouraged. We can never get demoralized. Christ has given us a power that overcomes the world and its evil.

Staying close to the Eucharist

And for all of the baptized anointed in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, we must be reminded how close we should stay to the Eucharist, how close we should stay to the Mass, how fervently we should try not to miss a day, because evil is growing, and we have the antidote! For us not to apply the antidote is to lose something in a very tragic way.

Christ has won the victory for us, and nothing can overcome that. Even those who suffer so greatly from psychological and physical maladies can approach medical treatment with the underlying hope and knowledge that ultimately the battle has been won!

And that is a message we must speak to the world! There is reason for hope in this world! Light will overcome the darkness! It already has, in Christ’s glorious Resurrection!

Thank you for taking the time to read this! May God bless each and every one of you this Easter! Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!