Letter to priests from Bishop Hying Print
Bishop Hying's Letter
Thursday, Apr. 16, 2020 -- 12:00 AM

Dear Brothers,

As we approach the Sacred Triduum, I write to you, seeking to express my gratitude, prayer, esteem, and love for you in the Lord. This is my first Holy Week with you and what a strange one it is. None of us could have imagined the current situation we are in. And yet, I feel great blessings and peace flowing to us from the Heart of the Lord in the midst of this trial. I see all of you, serving your people with generosity and joy the best you can, even with these restrictions in place. You have live-streamed your Masses, opened your churches for prayer, made yourselves available for confession, called parishioners, ministered to the sick and dying, striven to bolster stewardship, faced the anxiety, anger, fear, and frustration of many. In all of this, you have shone forth the beauty, truth, and goodness of Jesus in a heroic and sacrificial love. For all of that, I will always be grateful and inspired by your example and perseverance. You are a remarkable blessing to the universal Church, to our people and to me.

I read an anonymous reflection on the Internet about the first Easter, which I will paraphrase and expand here, but want to give credit to whoever wrote it. That first Easter found the Apostles locked in a room, filled with fear and anxiety, knowing that if they went out in public, their lives were at risk. Their public association with Jesus made them marked men. They were trying to process the puzzling news the women had brought them -- the tomb was empty and there were already reports of Jesus being alive and appearing to some of their companions. That first Easter, there were no public celebrations, no joyful alleluias, no bold proclamations of the resurrection. Confusion and fear reigned. Doors and hearts remained locked in anxious vigilance.

Into that locked room and those fearful hearts, the risen Lord broke through, wishing peace to those first followers, breathing the Holy Spirit upon them and commissioning them to proclaim forgiveness and to absolve sins. It's as if Jesus Christ could not wait to come back from the dead in order to share with the Apostles the fruits of His victory over sin and death. The shock of the Lord's resurrected presence gave way to sheer joy and delight. Jesus broke through every barrier in order to be with His beloved brothers and sisters in this new life of grace, mercy, and love.

Of all the Easters we have ever celebrated in our lives, this Easter will most resemble that first one. Our people will not gather for Mass and receive the Eucharist, we will not have big celebrations of the Easter Sacraments of Initiation and we will not visit family and friends. Our people will be at home, many alone, celebrating this Easter as best they can, through live-streamed Masses and personal prayer. In many ways, we will be like the Apostles, locked in that room.

Nevertheless, we know the Lord Jesus will break through our isolation, fear, and loneliness with the radiant presence of His resurrected life! If the Lord of history can conquer sin and death definitively, can He not be with us now, even in our isolated existence? Jesus does not observe social distancing because He is always close to us and promises that He will be with us until the end of time. This mysterious yet consoling presence of the Son of God is the hallmark of His resurrected victory. We are not alone, and we are not abandoned. This fundamental truth gives us hope in the struggle, consolation in our solitude, and strength in our weakness.

I praise God for you, our Religious, deacons, lay leaders, and all of the faithful who unfailingly witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One day, we will be able to gather again together for our joyous and prayerful celebrations of the Paschal Mystery. This Easter, like the first one, we will be physically separated and perhaps alone, but Jesus will unfailingly break through the walls of our homes and our hearts and breathe the fragrance of the Holy Spirit upon us. Thank you for your witness!

May you know the love, peace, and power of the risen Christ this Sacred Triduum!

In the love of the Sacred Heart,

+Bishop Donald Hying