THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: Keep the fire burning beyond Easter
By Bishop James R. Golka
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” — Acts 2:37-38
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Jesus Christ is Risen! Even though we are a few weeks out from Easter Sunday, we celebrate the Easter season all the way up to Pentecost. These are exciting days between the celebration of Our Lord’s Resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit.
Our diocese was blessed to welcome 172 new Catholics this Easter. Praise God! Since the Rite of Election at the beginning of Lent until now, we have been especially praying for them and now we get to pray with them at Mass. I am so grateful for you, brothers and sisters in Christ, and give you my heartfelt congratulations. Welcome home!
I also want to thank all of the catechists, volunteers, and clergy who have walked with these new Catholics in their journey up to now. Your love for Jesus is a true gift worth sharing. Thank you for being so generous.
But our work is not done. These newly initiated Catholics and those who have come into full communion with the Catholic Church are now entering the phase called “Mystagogia,” the Greek word meaning “to lead through the mysteries.” During this time they will unpack of the rites of initiation at Easter and deepen of their ownership of these graces. I hope that all our new Catholics realize that their journey of a life in Christ is only just beginning. With the sacraments and the fellowship of the Church, you have so much more to learn and experience!
And for those of us who have been Catholics for a longer time, we still owe these new Catholics our prayer, encouragement, and witness. The statistics say that unfortunately, up to 3 out of 4 newly initiated Catholics drift away from practicing their new faith in the first year after initiation. It does not have to be this way! I ask that everyone reading this column stop right now and pray to Jesus that he will protect and guide these new Catholics — that he will lead them into deeper faith and surround them with faith-filled Catholics to help them integrate this new identity. Go ahead, pray now. I’ll wait . . .
Another group that deserves our prayers includes all of those awaiting the reception of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. After the Easter Octave and Divine Mercy Sunday, I began visiting our parishes to confirm those young men and women who have been preparing for this sacrament. Thanks to the work of their catechists, sponsors, parents, godparents, and friends, these young people are going to be equipped with the gifts of the Holy Spirit for their mission to proclaim the Gospel in daily life. Please pray for them, too!
Finally, I want to express my gratitude for the pastors, priests, deacons, musicians, liturgical coordinators, and everyone who helped with the liturgies of Holy Week. It takes a lot of work to lead a parish in prayer through those days. I remember as a parish priest being exhausted after the last Easter Sunday Mass. But it was a good exhaustion. The post-Easter Sunday rest was very satisfying because I knew God’s grace was at work. I was just so thankful to be a part of it. Hopefully you have had a nice rest after Holy Week and the Triduum.
As Jesus said, “the harvest is ripe but the laborers are few.” This means a lot of work for Jesus’ disciples! But it truly is good work. I am grateful to be working alongside of you in our little corner of the field here in the Diocese of Colorado Springs.
May God bless you in this Easter season and renew the gifts of his Holy Spirit within you so that we may work tirelessly to serve our Lord Jesus and his Gospel!