May 2017 Four County Catholic
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Although it has now been several weeks since Easter Sunday, we are still very much in the middle of the continuing season of Eastertide. Easter is such a joyous celebration of the foundation of the Christian faith, we sometimes need reminding that the celebration continues for fifty days. Eastertide is an entire season of new life, fulfillment, rejoicing, joy and thanksgiving.
Following the liturgical calendar, this sacred season extends to the Solemnity of Pentecost, June 4th this year, at which time we commemorate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit inspiring the apostles to spread the Good News and build the Church. As we continue forward, the Easter message of being born anew and gifted with the promise of eternal life, as we are, becomes a way of life. The spirit of Easter lives on beyond the season as it comes alive through prayer, sharing in the sacraments and in the practice of charity.
Charity, in thought and deed, is particularly close to my pastoral mission, given that my chosen motto as your Bishop is “Above All Charity.” It has been my experience, always heightened at Easter time, that the most generous people I have had the privilege to know rather well, are the happiest. The generosity of a compassionate follower of Jesus Christ begins with a thankful heart. Our recognition that we have been blessed and our inclination to share those blessings is essential to who we are as Christians. We may share our gratitude by way of encouraging others. Offering words of comfort. Sharing our time and energy to help those in need. Being willing to be steadily supportive of our diocesan ministries who serve on the front lines of lifting lives.
It has also been my privilege to observe that we are at our compassionate best when we are united as a community of faith. Every day we are inundated with division and discord in the secular news media. We as a community of faith need to be a force of unity among all the fractured elements of a stressed society. It was moving to all of us to see our churches so crowded on Palm Sunday, throughout Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We gain so much by being together, praying together, receiving God’s gifts together. Our beautiful faith, in a suffering world right now, is about growing in relationship with the Lord; and it is about growing in relationship with a community of believers.
All the heated ideology conflicts make it seem, too often, that we the people can’t make a significant difference. Our faith teaches us that we can. We can make the most significant difference by uniting as a community of faith.
Think about the uplifting experience of being in Church together on Easter Sunday. Being together in worship and trust is a special form of generosity. Your presence is, itself, a generous gift to other parishioners as you exchange signs and words of peace, pray and promise to help heal a wounded world. This is a very good time to begin again to attend Sunday Mass as regularly as possible and help bring comfort to your family and comfort to others.
While recently visiting Egypt, His Holiness Pope Francis spoke of “true faith making us more charitable, more merciful, more honest and more humane. It moves our hearts to love everyone without counting the cost, without distinction and without preference.”
Let us celebrate the joy of the Holy Father’s message and be inspired to celebrate our living faith together at every opportunity.
Attending Mass this Sunday is a good time to realize anew that we are stronger as one united family.
Sincerely yours in Christ’s love,
Bishop Michael R. Cote