The 2022 Easter Message from Archbishop Donald Bolen
Archbishop of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Archdiocese of Regina, and all who are reading or viewing this little Easter message, warm greetings in the Risen Lord.
As I am recording this, we are preparing for the great celebrations of the Triduum, beginning with Holy Thursday, and a snowstorm is raging outside my office windows. In some places on the prairies they are suggesting it could be the worst snowstorm in decades. By the time you are watching or reading this, you will know! In any case, a great storm seems a fitting metaphor for what we have been living these past weeks, months, even years. For many, because of life torn asunder by war, or the experience and legacy of abuse, or the effects of a pandemic that won’t go away, or other struggles without and within, many people are feeling like they – like we – are caught in a vicious storm, in our world or within ourselves.
As a community of faith, we have been invited, through the Lenten season, to walk with Jesus through the tumultuous events culminating in his trial, passion and death. If we walk through those events not feeling their harshness, because we are focused on the inevitable ‘good end’ of the resurrection, we miss part of the meaning that the Lord wants to share with us. Despite prophecies, the resurrection happened where it was not expected, at a place of total darkness and despair. The cross was the eye of the storm, and the tomb where Jesus was buried was not a quiet resting place so much as it was the place of wreckage after the storm had unleashed its worst.
When we find ourselves in places of deep discouragement, depression, or devastation, standing amidst the wreckage of our world, our society, or our lives, well, then we find ourselves standing where Jesus stood. Only God can bring forth life from such a disaster, only the one who authors our being can ultimately bring healing, transformation, and wholeness. And in remembering the event of the resurrection, in our Easter celebrations, we are reminded and assured that this is precisely what God desires to do. Christ is Risen! And that translates into our experience as this: God does for us what only God can do – lets us breathe again, lets us know and experience joy again, lets a deep hope be planted within us. We are not alone in this life. It is not without
purpose. And we and all creation are ultimately in the hands of one who is infinitely good, merciful, just, forgiving, tender, embracing.
Seeing our lives and our world with paschal eyes does not block out the pain or the sense of overwhelm, the sadness or frustration of life. But it remembers, it remembers …. There is a way out of this mess. God knows the way out. And we are invited to dare to trust that the God who raised Jesus from the dead will also walk with us in our times of deepest trouble, and when all seems lost.
You have probably heard the saying, “old age is not for whimps.” I think that saying could be expanded a little. There is nothing easy about childhood; or the teenage years; or the challenges of adulthood, parenthood, work, and communal life in a society marked by a deep brokenness. It is not easy at any age. When God authored human life, God did it in such a way as to draw us into God’s heart, and the life and death of resurrection of Jesus tells us much about God’s heart. There are experiences in life that are filled with blessing and wonder, with new life, with joy that takes our breath away. Experiences, we could say, that give us a glimpse of resurrection. There are also experiences which are harsh – even, we might say, crucifying. Worst still, we do it to each other. And we come before God with hands that are not only needy but also soiled, in need of a mercy as vast and wide as was revealed in the raising of Jesus from the dead. There is a paschal dimension to all of life, and God is at work in the midst of it, transforming us, inviting us into an ever deeper discipleship and ever deeper embrace of God’s way of loving and transforming the world into divine life.
The Lord plants one other word in our hearts through this paschal season, and it is this: The crucified and risen Lord asks that we learn, day by day, to walk with each other; in particular, to accompany others when they are in great need, struggling, feeling lost or overwhelmed. In faith we believe it to be true that we are not alone. But we need each other’s presence to grow, to believe, to trust. God wants to work through us, to express solidarity with others, to show compassion, through us. So as we celebrate the joy of the resurrection, let us rejoice at the depths of our being that God is for and with us in this life, and let us find ways to embody God’s lifegiving presence to others in the rough and tumble of our days.
Christ is Risen! Happy Easter to each and all of you, and to all of your loved ones!
+ Donald Bolen
Archbishop of Regina
With thanks to the Archdiocese of Regina.