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Catholic Voice
  March 26, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

Easter season time of coming to life

"Christ is risen from the dead; by death he conquered death, and to those in the grave he granted life." This refrain echoes all throughout the Easter Vigil Liturgy of the Greek Church, and serves well as an apt and succinct summary of the whole mystery of Easter.

In our own Latin Church, signs of new life in the risen Christ abound: the life-giving waters of Baptism by which new believers are initiated into the Church and given rebirth in Christ; the light of the Easter candle, lit for the first time at the Easter Vigil, symbolizing Christ the Light who dispels the darkness of sin and death; bread and wine, the basic staff of life, which is transformed into his Body and Blood in the Eucharist to give us a share in and foretaste of his eternal banquet.

It is no coincidence that Easter takes place in the springtime, when all of nature, lying dormant throughout winter, begins to come back to life. Easter, just like spring, bespeaks fertility. We see God's plan for all creation and our salvation unfolding before us, the whole created order as if it were responding to the first commandment God gave to the human race: "be fruitful and multiply."

Grace builds on nature, and physical, even biological, reality teaches us about and points to the deeper, inner spiritual reality, a revelation of God's plan for our happiness, now and in eternity. That plan? "Be fruitful and multiply": the gift of new life, new brothers and sisters in the family of God, the blessing of increased life in the Church.

It is therefore also no coincidence that we refer to the Church as our "mother"; in fact, the new English translation of the Roman Missal has returned to the traditional practice of using the feminine pronoun in reference to the Church ("she" and "her," rather than the impersonal "it"). The Church gives birth to new children for God's Kingdom at the baptismal font; she nourishes them with the food of the Eucharist and by teaching them the truth of Christ; she comes to their aid when they are ill spiritually or physically through the healing grace of the sacraments; she trains them in the school of virtue so that they may develop the capacity for love and happiness.

It is for good reason that saints, scholars and mystics alike, in addition to considering the baptismal font to be a tomb (dying to sin and being buried with Christ) have also spoken of it as a womb (the place where new life is generated).

At Easter, we rejoice with so many brothers and sisters of ours who have been given new life at the font of Baptism and so incorporated into Christ's family. In the midst of the hardships and even sufferings that so many people face during these challenging times, let us always remember that, in Christ, we have safe passage to the eternal spring: a place at the table of his Kingdom, on the day where the sun never sets and we will enjoy the fullness of life in Christ forever.

Please know that you will all have a remembrance in my Masses and prayers during these sacred days. A blessed Holy Week and happy Easter to you all.

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