Christ is alive!

| Archbishop Bernard Hebda | April 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

On the first Sunday of Lent this year, more than 500 people, joined by their family members, friends and sponsors, journeyed to our co-cathedrals in St. Paul and Minneapolis for the annual Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. This weekend, they will be sacramentally initiated and warmly welcomed into the Catholic Church in parishes throughout our archdiocese.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

It is nothing short of amazing that so many would come forward at such a challenging time in the Church to make a public profession of their faith as new Catholics. They speak in awe and amazement of the ways in which the Lord tenderly called them to his Church, often through the good example of a Catholic spouse or co-worker, or through an encounter with the beauty of the Catholic liturgy that awakened something deep inside of them, or through a startling sense of God’s comforting presence in the midst of the struggles of life, or through an attraction to God’s word that can only be explained by grace. Each story is unique and speaks to the handiwork of a God who knows just what we need. We rejoice that he has brought them to know his son, Jesus, in a new way and their lives will never be the same.

I am grateful that the Lord continues to offer us hope by bringing new life to his Church. I am also grateful to those catechists, sponsors and supporters who have walked patiently and joyfully with our inquirers; to the catechumens and candidates on their RCIA journeys; and especially grateful to those who will be initiated this weekend for their inspiring response to the movements of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Their witness boldly proclaims to the world the earth-shattering Easter message: The Lord is risen!

Jesus

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This Easter and always, we need to know in every fiber of our being that “Christ is alive!” These are, in fact, the words with which Pope Francis begins his recently released exhortation to young people and to the entire people of God, “Christus Vivit.” Flowing from the proposals that emerged from last fall’s worldwide Synod on Young People and Vocation, “Christus Vivit” would be wonderful reading for the 50 days of the Easter season, no matter our age. I love how the Holy Father reminds us that Christ “is in you, he is with you and he never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. He calls you and he waits for you to return to him and start over again. When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope.”

That is a promise that changes everything.

Not long after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, the local Lutheran pastor was invited to speak at my home parish as part of a Lenten series. My father, a lifelong Catholic, came home that evening with a new understanding of the centrality of the Resurrection to our faith. He spent the next 50 years quoting Pastor Ed (“… if Jesus did not rise, my faith in him is in vain”).

I have vivid memories of my mom and dad annually herding the family into the car on Easter afternoon to head to the cathedral for the bishops’ Easter blessing. My siblings and I always had a thousand things that we would rather have been doing, but we had no choice in the matter. The long lines to greet the bishop and his auxiliaries only made matters worse. By that point in the day, my Easter finery was always permanently stained by the horseradish and red beet concoction that my mother had bribed us to eat with our Easter ham and kielbasa (I never let on that I loved it).

When it would finally be our turn to exchange greetings with the bishop, my father would invariably tell him about the Easter insight he had gained from the Lutheran pastor, much to the chagrin of my mother, who thought it unseemly to talk to our Catholic bishop about a Lutheran pastor in the sanctuary of the cathedral.

I will always be grateful to Pastor Ed for what he stirred in the heart of my dad, prompting him to integrate into his daily examination of conscience a new point for reflection: How has my life today reflected that the Lord is indeed risen and alive? While that’s a great point for personal reflection, I suspect it could be equally relevant for us as an archdiocese as well. Especially as we strive to rebuild our Church, are we giving evidence by our joy and our service that the Risen One, who offered his life for us, continues to be with us and love us? Do we manifest in our life together a belief in Jesus’ living presence in his Church?

Please join me in praying this Easter that this holy season might be a time for recommitting ourselves to stay in the race, as Pope Francis in “Christus Vivit” has urged us, “attracted by the face of Christ, whom we love so much, whom we adore in the holy Eucharist and acknowledge in the flesh of our suffering brothers and sisters.”

May his resurrection be our strength.

¡Cristo está vivo!

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Category: Only Jesus