The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 21, 2000 Issue
Bishop Banks' Corner

Bishop Robert J. Banks
Bishop Robert J. Banks

Holy Spirit enables Christian life

Let us pray during this season for even more help from Spirit

By Bishop Robert Banks

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

My prayers and best wishes that we may all share through faith in the risen Christ the real joy of this Easter Day and Season.

Once again, we are privileged to hear at Mass the story of Mary Magdalen and the apostles Peter and John at the empty tomb. Once again we shall hear again on the succeeding Sunday the familiar story of the risen Christ appearing to the apostles in the upper room and then inviting Thomas to put his hands into the wounds and to believe.

Once again in the first readings we shall hear of the transformation brought about in the apostles and the disciples by the power of the risen Christ. The Peter who was afraid to admit to a serving girl that he was a follower of Christ, now stands up before the crowd and calls them to belief. New disciples would "sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one's need."

Once again on Easter Sunday we shall renew our baptismal commitment as we answer "I do" to the priest's "Do you reject Satan. ... Do you believe in God. ... Do you believe in Jesus Christ. ... Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?"

Once again on Easter Sunday we shall pray with the priest, "Let our celebration today raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us."

The prayer reminds us that it is precisely by, through and in the celebration of Mass that at Easter, and throughout the year, God raises us up and renews our lives by the Spirit that is within us.

The Easter gift of Jesus to the apostles was the Holy Spirit. The Easter gift of Jesus to each of us is the Holy Spirit. This is most obvious in the lives of the catechumens and candidates who join the Church during the liturgy of the Easter Vigil. It is just as real, but not as obvious, when as individuals each of us seriously renews his or her baptismal commitment in the Easter Mass.

It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that each of us is enabled to live the Christian life. That is what we Catholics and Lutherans agreed to this past November: "Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works."

We can tend to forget the need we humans have of the Holy Spirit. We live in a culture of self-esteem where we tell children from the time they can listen, "God don't make no junk." The culture forgets to tell them about the selfishness that so easily corrodes what God has made. And when some moral disaster threatens to destroy a person's life, we turn to psychology for an explanation and a cure, forgetting that sin is also an explanation and the grace of forgiveness a cure.

Let's pray that the Easter celebration will help us Christians realize much more fully the need we have of the Holy Spirit's presence and power in our lives.

Sincerely yours in Christ.

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