Among the joys of seeing the true Faith being lived and celebrated across west-central Wisconsin for 150 years is the simple fact that so many of us over the span of these years have come to know Jesus Christ and have learned to tell His story with our own words and by our own lives. We may count this action as part of the mission and the work of evangelization that is the grist of our life in Christ.
We are born spiritually in the sacrament of baptism and we become sharers in the Divine Love-Life of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We begin to live a supernatural life. This life is nurtured and nourished by the ways in which the faith is lived at home, by what we learn from our primary teachers, our parents, and how we come to know Jesus personally in prayer and the life of grace. As we practice the virtues of faith, hope and charity, we gradually unite ourselves with Christ and others in offering worship to God. We grow in grace and goodness.
In the ordinary workings of our lives, we are baptized as infants and later, around the age of 7 or 8, we receive holy Communion for the first time. As we become more sacramentally alive in our faith, our interior relationship with Christ skyrockets!
For our consideration this month, we are reflecting on the gift of the sacrament of confirmation. While we contemplate the gifts God has given to this diocese, none is more powerful than the gifts that enflame our awareness of God and charge us with the ability to be like Him, enlivened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit given in confirmation.
As I make my way through our beloved diocese, I am often struck by the beautiful stained-glass windows and paintings that form the living history of what our ancestors believed and taught in the “living catechisms” of our beautiful churches. As you make your way through our major work, Feed my Lambs, see how the book opens each reader to the growth of the faith across our 19 counties. When the publishers first got a glimpse of the beauty of our churches, it became clear to them more space was needed and the book nearly doubled in size!
What great testimony to our ancestors — the progenitors of the faith in this part of Wisconsin. As you read the book and study the photographs, this diocese becomes overwhelmingly your own. At this time of the year, not just because of spring — but because of Easter, that flame of faith is once again ignited and burns more intensely.
The Church saves the season of Easter for the special effort of celebrating the sacraments of Christian initiation, and confirmation takes center stage in most parishes across our diocese. We do a wonderful job of preparing the next group of missionaries and evangelists who are charged with the task of taking the Gospel to the next generation — not an easy task in a day when so many people resist God’s love and presence.
I encourage you, dear reader, to accept the challenge of being an Easter messenger of grace. It may be to your children or grandchildren, parents or relatives, friends or strangers. Celebrate the life of Jesus whenever and wherever you can. Do not be afraid. The Church has survived for thousands of years with the help of people like us. This diocese celebrates the joy of 150 years. We are a hearty, Easter people. Rejoice! Alleluia!