Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bishop Carlson's Easter Message 2007

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I celebrate my third Easter with you, I call to mind the words of the Memorial Acclamation from the Mass – "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again." St. Peter, the first Pope, captured this mystery for us in the Book of Acts, chapter 10.

Having been baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan, Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit, and went out to proclaim the Kingdom of God by his teaching and healing of the people. He was put to death by "hanging him on a tree" and God the Gather raised him from the dead, and he appeared to Peter and John and Mary and all of his disciples. He commissioned them to proclaim the forgiveness of sins "through his name."

We call this the Paschal Mystery and we reflect on this today as we read John 20:1-9 and reflect on Mary Magdalene going to the tomb and finding it empty. She had seen Jesus die on the cross and knew where they buried him. Finding the tomb empty, she went to Peter and John and they too become witnesses. Today, we are invited, as people of faith, to see and believe!

Throughout the Easter Season, we can reflect on the Resurrection and all that this means for us in faith. Our loving and merciful God has saved us by sending Jesus his Son to suffer, die and rise. In confidence we proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord! We are blessed to meet the risen Lord in Word and Sacrament and in a special way through the gift of the Eucharist.

Just a few weeks ago, on February 22, 2007, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, released the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (The Sacrament of Charity), in which he calls the Church into a deeper relationship with the Eucharist. The Pope reminds us that "the Eucharist is at the root of every form of holiness, and each of us is called to the fullness of life in the Holy Spirit" and that "this most holy mystery thus needs to be firmly believed, devoutly celebrated and intensely lived in the Church."

Just as Jesus made himself known in the breaking of the bread to those two disciples on the road to Emmaus that first Easter (Luke 34:13-35), today Jesus continues to reveal his body, blood, soul and divinity to us in the Eucharist. Indeed, like those two disciples, our hearts ought to burn within us knowing the risen Lord is near.

As Peter reminds us that we "know what happened all over Judea," we are reminded at each Mass that Jesus took bread, broke it and said, "Take this all of you and eat it. This is my Body."

It is in that spirit of encountering Christ through the Sacrament of the Eucharist, that I have called the Diocese of Saginaw to celebrate, in a special way as local church, a Eucharistic Congress on June 8, 9 and 10.

During that same weekend, God willing, I will ordain two men to the priesthood and five as transitional deacons for service in this diocese.

We have invited special speakers to visit our diocese, including Catholic entertainer Steve Angrisano, who will help lead an all-day youth rally and an evening family concert. There also will be opportunities for adults to enrich their own faith.

Every pastor and pastoral administrator has the information you need to learn about the Eucharistic Congress and the many events that have been scheduled. You also may click here to learn more about the event and register to be part of this great faith opportunity.

This Easter, may we be united in prayer with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, that "through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may the Holy Spirit kindle within use the same burning love experienced by the disciples on the way to Emmaus and renew our 'Eucharistic wonder' ... let us encourage one another to walk joyfully, our hearts filled with wonder towards our encounter with the Holy Eucharist so that we may experience and proclaim to others the truth of the words in which Jesus took leave of his disciples: 'I am with you always, until the end of the world.' (Mathew 28:20)."

Wishing you and your family a blessed Easter with hearts on fire for Christ,

Most Rev. Robert J. Carlson
Bishop of Saginaw

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