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Lenten pilgrimage reaches its end

Dear brother and sisters in Christ,

Praised be Jesus Christ for His holy mysteries of salvation! In these most sacred days of the Triduum, the “Three Days” which encompass the Last Supper, the Passion and Death, and the Resurrection of our Lord, I invite you to contemplate with me a meditation on these great events of salvation history, and our own participation in them. The pilgrimage of Lent has reached its end in the tomb, and we have died with Christ in our fasting and sacrifices. But the tomb is not the end, for Christ is risen! And by his mercy, we too can rise with him, sharing fully in the new life and abundant grace he offers, if only we do not swerve aside from following his way.

Forty days ago we set out, like the chosen people into the desert, so hopeful in the gift of freedom. As the scriptures helped us see, we watched in awe as God’s mighty power cast down pursuing armies. The Lord wrote the law in our hearts. We received the sign on our foreheads to remind us of repentance. The road of Lent may have proved more difficult than expected. The pilgrimage has tested our faith in unpredictable ways, and our faith has not always measured up to those divine commandments. Perhaps we are intimidated by our own weakness, as we have struggled to follow our Lenten discipline. Perhaps we have grumbled against God, for the suffering of the fast. Perhaps we have succumbed in some way to the lure of a golden calf. Our faith always takes a beating in this life, and the journey of faith, in some way or other, is never the easy path.

But in recent days we have approached Jerusalem. In the comfort of God’s city, we have offered our sacrifices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We have heard the voices of prophets calling us back to the way, and we have repented. We have waited for the fulfillment of promises, and we have seen mighty works, the healing sacraments of confession and holy eucharist, being done in our midst. The way has been long, but our hearts have been refreshed here. We have received new strength to continue to follow what God has taught us.
And now, there is one who arrives as light in the darkness! We have turned out in joy to celebrate the arrival of our king, bearing palms before him and smoothing his way. Surely, this is the moment we have been awaiting, the king who will give us justice and peace! Yet, we are so soon disappointed. What he gives us does not look like our vision of justice, and it does not feel like peace. Instead of victory over our enemies or rivals, he gives us a heavy Cross to carry. Instead of ease and relaxation, he gives us a still harder journey to undertake. He has exalted neither himself nor us, and we do not know what to make of this.

It seems that, in spite of our faith, our desire to love God, our trust in His promises, somehow we have allowed ourselves to be corrupted. It is so easy to mistake our desires for God’s will for us. It is so easy to try to tell God what he must do for us, and so difficult to listen to that small, quiet voice in a clamorous world. And the world around us only seems to be getting worse, year by year. The worm of doubt approaches, seeks to enter our heart. Temptations snare our feet. So many do not follow him, or follow only half-heartedly and exteriorly. Can we truly be his disciples in this life? Would we not be more rewarded by compromising or compartmentalizing our faith and living according to the world’s expectations?

And now we see him hanging dead before us on the cross. Our fearful denials of knowing him have driven us from his side. Our voices have condemned him, called for his death. Our sins have crucified him. With the greatest sorrow, we see now our folly, our weakness, our sinfulness. Our hearts are bitter with the weight of our betrayals.

And then, all unexpected, comes the best of all good news: Jesus Christ is not dead, but alive! The morning of Easter dawns, the first day of the week, and the tomb is empty! Now everything is different, remade. The weakness of our faith becomes the victorious strength of the risen Christ. The bitterness of our hearts bursts into a new flame of joy. Our doubts and our sins are washed away in the freshness of this new day. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead; we are saved in His grace and power. We sing with irrepressible joy at the generous mercy of the Lord, and we are made totally new in the resurrection.

This is the journey of our soul through Lent to Easter. Each year, we live again the events of salvation history and of our personal salvation. We die again with him as we did in the waters of baptism, so that we can rise again with Him from the tomb. We suffer with him, because we are sinners, yet we are not cut off from His love and mercy, because he is the faithful good shepherd who calls us back to the fold. The joy of our Lord’s resurrection remains new for us, celebrated this day and for the whole seven weeks of the Easter season. And in our hearts, every day can write this journey again in miniature, if we give ourselves to him in faith and obedience.

And because we have this faith, this belief in his resurrection and its power to “put all things under his feet,” we strive every day, our whole life, to live more and more as his disciples. We follow the daily interior journey of conversion. We share our faith with joy and enthusiasm, so that the light may not be hidden under a basket. We die each day to self, because he died for us. The cross is never the end, but leads always to new life in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my dear friends, celebrate Easter together with great joy and festivity! Christ pours his grace into our hearts and fills us with his generous gifts. He is our merciful Savior. He has ransomed our lives from an impossible debt, so let us thank him each day, by living his new life devoutly. Let us be united with him in prayer for each other! May the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ fill you with faith, hope, and love, and may he pour out all his gifts upon you most abundantly!
A most blessed and happy Easter!

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

 

schedule

Bishop Nickless schedule for April 28 to May 4

April 24 – Sioux City KFHC Radio Spring Pledge Drive, 8 a.m., KFHC Studios

April 25 – Sioux City Briar Cliff University Board of Trustees Meeting, 8 a.m., BCU Campus
Sioux City Diocesan Finance Council meeting, 11 a.m., Chancery Offices
Le Mars Biennial Convention of the Sioux City Diocese Catholic Women, 5 p.m.,
St. Joseph Church

April 26 – Sioux City Jubilee Mass for Women Religious, 10:30 a.m., Chapel of Our Lady of Grace,
Briar Cliff University
Sibley Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 5 p.m., St. Andrew Church

April 28 – Sioux City Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 7 p.m., Chapel of Our Lady of Grace,
Briar Cliff University

May 1 – Sioux City Celebration of Mass with Catholic school fifth grade students, 10:30 a.m.,
Cathedral of the Epiphany
Sioux City Priest Pension Board meeting, noon, Chancery Offices
Denison Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 6:30 p.m., St. Rose of Lima Church

May 3 – Sioux City Mass of Ordination for Permanent Deacons, 10 a.m., Cathedral of the Epiphany

May 4 – Milford Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 10 a.m., St. Joseph Church
Bancroft Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 2:30 p.m., St. John the Baptist Church

Bishop’s Schedule for Holy Week and Easter

April 18 – Sioux City Friday of the Passion of the Lord Service, Noon, Cathedral of the Epiphany

April 19 – Sioux City Easter Vigil in the Holy Night Mass, 8:30 p.m., Cathedral of the Epiphany

April 20 – Sioux City Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord Mass, 8:30 a.m.,
Carmelite Monastery

April 27 – Sioux City Divine Mercy Sunday, 1:30 p.m., Blessed Sacrament Church

 

4-17-14: Lenten pilgrimage reaches its end

4-3-14: Carry the cross: Lenten journey brings sacrifices, but don't sacrifice religious freedom

3-20-14: Live vocations joyfully, faithfully

3-6-14: Beginning the pilgrimage of Lent

2-20-14: Lent a time of preparation, renewal, rededication

2-6-14: Our Super Bowl goal is heaven

1-23-14: Striving to bring light and love of Jesus Christ to all

1-9-14: Ordinary time is anything but ordinary

12-19-13: Behold the saving power of the helpless infant

12-5-13: 'Put on Christ' more thoroughly this Advent

11-21-13: Year of Faith brings many blessings for diocese

11-7-13: No simple answer to complexity of HHS mandate

10-17-13: Preparing for our spiritual winters

10-3-13: Preaching the Gospel with whole lives

9-19-13: Work for peace in our own hearts

9-5-13: Church offers unique vision on subject of immigration

8-22-13:The Blessed Virgin Mary invites us to entrust her with daily concerns

7-25-13:Faith, example of Christ teach us daily duties have important spiritual benefits

7-11-13: Rule of St. Benedict: Vision built on foundation of prayer and work

6-27-13: Bishop says: If you do not witness faith consistently, you may lose it

6-13-13: Bishop encourages: 'Diligently seek Christ'

5-16-13: Spring brings Pentecost and graduations

5-2-13: Christ remains present to us through Catholic Church

4-4-13: Celebrating the Easter octave: Rejoicing in the risen Lord

3-21-13: Easter Blessings: Resurrection can transform the world

3-7-13: Faith and Hope: Pray for College of Cardinals, those entering the church

2-21-13: Lenten season: Time to be shaken out of regular routines

2-7-13: Lenten season: Use time to grow in faith, hope and love

1-24-13: Many special events slated for coming weeks

1-10-13: Year of Faith: Make time for prayer in the new year

12-20-12: The joyful anticipation of Christ’s birth

11-29-12: Preparing internally, externally during Advent

11-1-12: Path to holiness is simple and clear

10-18-12: Be willing to live and die as true followers of Christ

10-4-12: Strengthen and renew relationship with Jesus during Year of Faith

9-20-12: Gospel can heal, unify: divisions in culture and politics

8-23-12: Form consciences according to teachings of Christ

8-9-12: Stay strong in fidelity to vocation

7-26-12: All in need of continuing conversion and closeness to Christ

7-12-12: July closes Fortnight for Freedom, brings pastor changes

6-28-12: Bishop addresses important church and national topics

6-14-12: Give generously to Peter's Pence

5-31-12: Two ordinations and national campaign on agenda

5-17-12: Mary leads us to her son Jesus

4-19-12: Sharing Easter blessings and urging support of religious freedom

4-5-12: Easter Alleluia: Message spreads light, hope and joy

3-22-12: Back from Rome, work continues to stop HHS contraception mandate

3-8-12: Collection to Support Catholic relief agencies

2-23-12: Lenten Message: Turn to Jesus through prayer, fasting, good works

2-9-12: Time to rid life of Catholic compromises and deny temption of the devil

2-9-12: Lent: Time to build solidarity with the poor

1-26-12: Bishop addresses serious topics related to threats on life

1-26-12: Catholic schools teach faith, academics and service

1-12-12: All share common vocation to holiness

12-22-11: Supporting Catholic Charities

12-8-11: Advent: How our preparations poing to Christ

11-24-11: Advent prepares the faithful for the coming of Jesus

11-10-11: Making announcement as Bishop of Sioux City

10-27-11: Giving glory to God, honoring holy men and women

9-29-11: October brings various life issues to forefront

9-15-11: Holy Eucharist: Christ’s entire body, blood, soul, divinity present

9-1-11: Keehe sanctiping tty of marriage at the forefront

8-18-11: May new school year allow youth to grow in wisdom and grace

7-21-11: Reflections on appointment to diocese, generosity of people

6-23-11: Bishop answers questions about recent meeting

6-9-11: Summer brings a time of change, for better or worse

5-12-11: Wishing parishioners a joy-filled Easter season

4-14-11: Journey to Easter: Darkness makes way for new light

3-17-11: The promise of glory provides hope during Lent

3-3-11: Striving to live up to the promises of the Cross

2-3-11: The inestimable gift of the holy sacraments

1-20-11: Bishop celebrates five years of ministry in diocese

1-6-11: Vocations Awareness Week: Everyone has at least on clear vocation from God

12-16-10: Christmas joy: Our Lord among us

12-2-10: Advent season brings hope

11-4-10: November: Celebrating saints, praying for dead and giving thanks

10-21-10: Participate in election with Christ as guide

9-23-10: Catholic Charities Sunday set for Sept. 26

9-9-10: Hold firmly to precious gift of faith

8-12-10: Bishop addresses current issues: Immigration and same-sex marriage

7-15-10: Church can support couples in forming holy, happy marriages

7-1-10: Summer brings chance to rejuvenate body and spirituality

5-20-10: Practicing virtures of humility and modesty

5-6-10: Bishop Nickless reflects on joyous occasions, immigration

4-22-10: Bishop Nickless addresses sacramentals and indulgences

3-25-10: EASTER: The center of God's plan for salvation

3-11-10: Instill hearts with committed foundation for paschal joy

2-25-10: Bishop addresses vocations, marriage life issues and health care

2-11-10: LENT: Special time to wean lives of sin

1-28-10: Grasping meaning of suffering creates source of hope

1-14-10: Bishop addresses social and faith issues

11-20-08: Bishop gives thanks for blessings

11-13-08: Give thanks for God’s blessings

11-6-08: Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran, bishops to meet in Baltimore

10-30-08: Called to die to self, live only in Christ

10-23-08: Belonging to God and what that means

10-16-08: Church continues mission of Christ by rejecting culture of death

10-9-08: October - a busy month

10-2-08: Life is a gift of God's love

9-18-08: The Word of God in life and mission of church

9-11-08: Thoughts on life issues and faith education

9-4-08: VOTING: Understanding the issues at stake

 

 

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