April 19, 2024

Every day of our lives, God desires to fill us with his own divine life through grace. This supernatural grace allows us to rise from any darkness, fear, disappointment, change, hardship or uncertainty in our lives, families, parishes, country and world. There is a lot of spiritual darkness in our world today, and we can either turn to God and rise above it or get stuck in the darkness.

One can only imagine what it must have been like for all who witnessed Jesus’ miracles and teachings and their joyful anticipation that all darkness would finally be overcome in their lifetimes because the Savior had come. However, they didn’t understand that God’s approach to how he would save souls was radically different than what they had hoped for.

Witnessing Jesus’ rejection, suffering and death was not their vision, nor was it their vision that they, too, would have to suffer and die to self in order to participate in God’s perfect plan of salvation. God’s saving works continue through his grace and our “yes” to accept his plan of salvation, much like St. Paul would come to realize in his letter to the Colossians, “I make up in my own body what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ” (Col 1:24). Put simply, God has entrusted to those who say “yes” to being filled with grace a share in God’s way of saving the world through our own embrace of our cross and uniting our sufferings to Jesus’ sufferings on his cross.

Wow, what a privilege to be asked to share in the salvation of souls! But as we all know, it is very hard but also very fruitful when we die to self and give our lives over to God’s perfect plan of salvation knowing he gives us the grace to suffer well for the salvation of souls.

Despite any difficulties, the fruit of Easter joy, like the apostles and disciples experienced after Jesus’ death and resurrection, can be ours throughout the year.

While our diocesan planning initiative, Set Ablaze, may cause suffering, disappointment, fear, hardship and uncertainty, which is completely understandable, it will also provide new opportunities for renewal and flourishing throughout the diocese if everyone actively engages in prayer and participation in fully living our beloved Catholic faith. This is a big invitation to fully live our faith and help others to do the same. It requires humility, prayer and courage to actively envision how to flourish at the parish and pastorate level now and in the future, all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Just as God allowed the death and resurrection of Jesus to challenge the apostles and disciples to leave behind their desires and dreams of how God would renew the face of the earth, so, too, does he invite us to do the same. Just as he invited them to leave behind sadness, despair, fear and uncertainty of the future, so, too, does he ask this of us.

However, if we fervently and consistently ask God to send the Holy Spirit upon us and our diocese, we can be assured he will bring spiritual flourishing in our diocese and beyond. Yes, letting go of what once was, and no longer is, in our parishes necessitates a surrender and a “death.”

Although we cannot save ourselves or the Church, God can and does through those who believe and actively live their faith. We must always live in the humility of utter reliance on God and active response to his graces to bring about a deepening spiritual renewal in ourselves and others. This only happens by receiving his grace and allowing our minds, hearts and wills to surrender to his plan and actively choose it.

May the death of our wills open wide the doors for a new resurrection in the minds, hearts and wills of people throughout our diocese as they witness God alive in us.

Know of my prayers that the joy of Easter may be yours now and forever despite the hardships and uncertainties as God brings about our spiritual renewal and that of our diocese in the way he chooses. Come Holy Spirit, come.