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Celebrating the Easter octave:
Rejoicing in the Risen Lord

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Lord is risen! Rejoice and welcome Him into your heart! May the glorious joy of His victory over sin and death give you new and abundant faith, hope, and love!

In this Year of Faith, the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection is especially joyful. The Resurrection is the center of our faith: we believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, defeating the power of sin and death forever, and that we can share in that victory, that new and everlasting life, through the Church which He left us. We die and rise and live with Him in His Church by receiving the holy sacraments, by prayer, by learning the faith, by evangelizing, and by loving our neighbor. When we do these things, we act in faith and hope.

We have been renewing our faith this year, and I have urged and encouraged you to pray more, especially with the Rosary, and to spend more time with Christ in adoration before the most Blessed Sacrament. We undertook our Lenten fasting in the same spirit of renewal. The resignation of Pope Emeritus Benedict and the election of Pope Francis have offered many graces to the Church, and have helped us in still another way to renew our faith. And now we celebrate the great mystery of Easter, seeing the Risen One with new eyes of faith, hearing with new ears the Good News. What a great difference it makes to be close to our Savior! Therefore we are filled with joy, when we receive again His great love for each of us, and let it soften our souls to be more like Him.

As our faith grows, so too does our desire to be steeped in His love, immersed in His mercy. We celebrate Easter most solemnly for eight days, an “Octave,” concluding with the feast of Divine Mercy (April 7th). Mercy is the whole point of our Lord’s Passion and death. He did not have to die; He chose to die, so that we could live. He willingly took on Himself the penalty for all of our sins, suffering in His own body what we deserve, and even descending into Hell to preserve us from that fate. But mercy triumphs over death, and Christ’s Resurrection now opens for us the gates of Heaven! In Him is all mercy, the forgiveness of every sin. No one is beyond the power of His mercy, to be healed and restored to fullness of life in Him, if only mercy is sought.

We celebrate, then, the Divine Mercy which is our true hope, and in which is our faith. “Jesus, I trust in you.” No one, other than our Lord Jesus Christ, offers us this mercy. And no one else has proven to be perfectly trustworthy! If indeed we put all faith in Him, and trust in His mercy without reservation, we will not be disappointed. This is what He promised in the new Covenant of His own precious blood: “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18).

With our renewed and growing faith, then, we receive with joy the certainty of this promise. In this new faith, we can make again the commitment, first made in our baptism, to live only in Him. With great trust in His infinite mercy, we can offer Him that part of each of us that most needs healing. If He willingly suffered and died the terrible death of the Crucifixion to heal our deepest wounds, surely He will find neither shame nor anger in seeing them in us?

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, be filled with joy at the great gift of faith, and receive Him with open hearts! He is our most merciful and tender Jesus, and in Him is all our delight. Enjoy the long awaited Spring and have a most blessed Easter!

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless,
Bishop of Sioux City

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