May 2019 Four County Catholic
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18)
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
This is the time of joy in the Church –– this time on the Church calendar between Easter and Pentecost known as Eastertide. We are joyful because we, like the apostles and early followers of Christ, know that He is risen! He is truly risen, alleluia!
Our joy, as a church family, was shaken with the news of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka which took the lives of more than 250 people while injuring hundreds of others. The attacks, which targeted two Catholic churches, one Protestant church and three luxury hotels, were timed to deliver maximum destruction, causing emotional and spiritual wounds beyond the shores of Sri Lanka. Tragically, two weeks later, violence again struck a house of worship at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in California.
Following horrific events, it is easy for some to lose hope. Hope flows from the personal connection we each have to principles of faith larger than ourselves. Hope is a gift granted to each of us by the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Here lies our strength to change the world for the better. Not in retaliation or divisive political agendas, but rather in love.
God‘s love within each one of us is transformational. We need to trust and share the love.
We stand with all those suffering. We extend our hearts, our hands and our means to help as faithful Catholics and grateful citizens of a great nation. Now is the time to pray fervently for peace. Now is the time to act as Jesus would act, responding with peace and kindness rather than reacting with hate and vengeance.
We have a choice. We can either transmit the hate that we see in the world or we can transform it. The choice is always ours. During turbulent times like these it helps to remind ourselves that the Church, as a community of faith, is a living missionary body. We are here to serve others, as Christ inspires us to do.
Inspiration is all around us. At Easter vigil Masses throughout the United States more than 37,000 adults were received into the Catholic Church. In our Diocese, 52 Catechumen and 70 Candidates came into full communion with the Church. What a beautiful beginning to the Easter celebration. We congratulate these newest members of our faith community as they rise to a new life of grace. Our communities are strengthened by their presence. We are inspired by their choice and we rejoice with them.
Inspiring as well, is the number of young people making their First Holy Communion this month. Remember the first time you received Jesus? As you approach the altar this Sunday, ask God to reignite that childlike joy in you once again. Strive to receive Christ in the Eucharist as if it were your first time.
As we continue our Easter journey, toward the Feast of Pentecost, let us do it with joy. The same joy that the apostles felt in the Upper Room after experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit. As Pope Francis reminds us, “The Spirit frees hearts chained by fear . . . He opens hearts that are closed . . . He impels the comfortable to go out and serve.” My prayer for you during this Easter season is for the power of the Holy Spirit to touch you in a deeper way, to cast out the fear and to change your heart so that you can face whatever challenges this world puts in your path.
Sincerely yours in the joy of Christ,
Bishop of Norwich