WA Bishops’ Easter messages 2009

09 Apr 2009

By The Record

Catholic women carry wooden crosses during a Palm Sunday procession in Dili, East Timor. PHOTO: CNS

Archbishop of Perth, Barry Hickey

Happy Easter

When we are wishing one another the traditional “happy Easter”, I hope
we make an effort to remember that we are wishing people the happiness
of Easter, the happiness that comes to humanity because of Easter.
Easter not only shows us the truth about ourselves, but also gives us
the strength to become freer and better persons who live under the
light of eternity.
This truth is revealed in the conflicts Jesus went through.  In his
human nature, Jesus did not want to die, but even more he did not want
to say ‘no’ to the will of God.
This great conflict was settled in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus
asked whether the cup (his suffering and death) could pass away, but
even in that agony he insisted ‘not my will, but yours be done’.
When the inner struggle was over, he went forward to face the
injustice, the abuse, the suffering and the death which awaited him. He
went forward totally united with the will of God, fully integrated,
fully free. It was this unity that enabled him to do what he had to do,
and which brought him to the ultimate freedom of the resurrection.
Throughout his life on earth Jesus had revealed his dedication to the
will of God. When he was still a boy he had asked Joseph and Mary, ‘Did
you not know I must be about my father’s business?’
He rejected all temptations of Satan and all of the human things that
would have detracted from his relationship with his Father, and
repeatedly said that he had come to obey his Father’s will.
As well as his own great example, Jesus taught his Apostles (and us)
that ‘he who wants to save his life will lose it, but he who surrenders
his life for my sake will find it’. It is only through being united
with the will of God that we discover the freedom and happiness of
being who we really are.
Adam wanted to be like God and thought he could achieve it by saying
‘no’ to God. It didn’t work then and hasn’t worked since. History and
the world are full of the destruction of life and love that comes from
this misbegotten philosophy.
Human liberty comes not from saying ‘no’, but from saying ‘yes’ to God.
This unites us with the will of God, the will of our Creator, the will
of our Saviour, the meaning of our life. History and the world are also
full of the joy of this choice – in the lives of the saints and in the
lives of ordinary men and women who love God and love their neighbour.
This is the happiness of Easter, a happiness that comes not only from
the ‘one-off’ event of the Resurrection but also from the ever-present
Sacraments which give us unity with Jesus and with one another.
Enter the deep meaning of Easter, the death and resurrection to new
life, and it will restore your hope, your self-worth and dignity, and
set you on the path to true freedom and love.
I wish all readers of The Record and all bishops, priests and people in the Archdiocese a happy and holy Easter.


Auxiliary Bishop of Perth, Donald Sproxton

Easter Message

With the work on the Cathedral proceeding at a pace now, I am looking
forward to Easter 2010 which will be the first Holy Week to be
celebrated in the completed building. Special interest will be focussed
on the Cathedral forecourt. This will feature water flowing from the
front entrance toward the place of the Easter Fire. At the Easter
Vigil, the Fire will mark the beginning of the night of rejoicing in
commemoration of the Resurrection of Jesus.
The light from the Fire will pierce the night, shining on the assembled
faithful and in its own way revealing them to the world.  The light
will be seen from Murray  Street and will be a special beacon to the
people of the city, pointing them to the real source of hope, the Risen
Christ. Wherever we celebrate Easter, in grand Cathedrals or the more
homely Parish Churches, we will be caught up in the greatest event in
history.  Jesus was sent to bring about the definitive reconciliation
of humanity and God.  This was only possible through the amazing
initiative and power of God.  In our place, Jesus endured this awful
death on the Cross.  From the Cross, he released His Spirit so that our
guilt could be erased and we would have true life.
The Resurrection of Jesus demonstrates the power of the Spirit and becomes the reason for our confidence in God.
I really like the image of the light that has been used so effectively
by the Church to teach the truth that Christ died and rose again.  The
light is only known because of the dark.  Our lives, if we look with
care, throw up so many experiences of darkness that are changed by the
appearance of this light.

Care is all important
In the time in which we live, the Christian is in great danger. The
society in which we live is losing bit by bit values and basic respect
for the human person. We are beginning to live a grey sort of existence
for the sake of conformity. Children are at risk of losing their skill
to develop three dimensional relationships because they are more and
more engaged in the two dimensional life of computers, i-pods,
facebooks and all manner of virtual reality technology. Their parents
are less convinced of universal truth and principles. We are all at
risk of not noticing the society overheating and our freedom and
security evaporating.
We are living at a time when Jesus Christ and his Gospel are
desperately needed so that we can look again with care at what is
happening around us. We need the light that really matters to shine
again so that we can learn to distinguish things from the dark.
Easter provides you and me with the opportunity to consider again the
place of faith and religion in our personal life and their relevance in
the good they can contribute to public life in general.
I wish you every blessing this Easter especially for the courage to
revisit the sources of our faith and the humility to accept the Gospel
truth. May the Risen Christ reveal by his Light the People worthy to
witness to Him.

Bishop of Broome, Christopher Saunders

Easter – The holy fire of God’s love
The image of fire as a destructive force has been indelibly imprinted
on our minds in recent weeks as the Victorian bushfires claimed many
lives and destroyed so much property, the works of human endeavour.
These fires have been the cause of great suffering that has torn at the
heartstrings of the nation. At this time the country continues to weep
at the sight of the resultant dispossession and anguish. As the raging
fires subsided, often all that was left were mountains of ash.
In many ways we can say our Easter begins with ash as on Ash Wednesday
and ends with the fire of Holy Saturday. The Easter Fire is blessed
then and lit to celebrate ‘Christ Our Light’. As these words are
intoned by the celebrant the congregation raise their candles and
proclaim in song, ‘Thanks be to God’.   For our new life in Christ we
are truly grateful.  The magnificent feast of Easter and all that goes
with it is a faith-filled collection of choice offerings that lead us
to a greater appreciation of God’s love for humanity and for each one
of us individually.
Easter is about salvation, conversion and reconciliation. It is about
remembering and thanksgiving. It is about rejoicing and hoping. And it
is about preparation for new life.
As it was by one man that death came, so through one man has come the
resurrection of the dead. Just as all die in Adam, so in Christ all
will be brought to life. 1Cor 15:21-22
With the help of our Easter Liturgies we give thanks to God for His
powerful act of love poured out for us in the sacrifice of His son. It
is such a pity that too often we appear to  regard this loving act with
near indifference as though our senses are completely dulled; as though
the passion, death and resurrection of Christ was a minor headline on
the back pages of history. It is no wonder that we have such trouble
coping with the great disappointments of life when we refuse to make
the effort to glimpse the heights of this blessed moment in time that
plainly is there to sustain us.
We are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; it is through
Him, by faith, that we have been admitted into God’s favour in which we
are living… Let us exult too in our hardships, understanding that
hardships develop perseverance, and perseverance develops a tested
character…When we were still hopeless, at the appointed time, Christ
died for the godless…It is proof of God’s own love for us, that
Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Rom:5:1-8.
Christians are a remembering people. We recall in worship the mystery
of God’s love and make the mystery ever-present in the community,
encouraging in each other that conversion which will bring us closer to
the holiness God has in mind for us.
Your minds, then, must be sober and ready for action; put all your hope
in the grace brought to you by the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Do not
allow yourselves to be shaped by the passions of your old ignorance,
but as obedient children, be yourselves holy in all your activity,
after the model of the Holy One who calls us, since scripture says, ‘Be
holy, for I am holy.’ 1Peter 1:13-16
It began with ash on our foreheads.  And now we pray that the Easter
event we celebrate will end with fire in our hearts for the love of
Jesus Christ. May we come to live our belief confidently and
enthusiastically.  May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the
darkness of our hearts and minds.
I wish you and your families all the light and power of a faith filled Easter.

Bishop of Geraldton, Justin Bianchini

Easter Message

As Priests we are blessed to read or rather pray the Psalms each day.
The Psalms are inspired prayers in the Old Testament. They are special
also because they tap into all sorts of situations, human conditions,
experiences and feelings of people.
For people of Faith it is important to know or sense that God is close
and that his loving and saving power is with them in the all
circumstances of their lives.
As a result the Psalms time and time again recall and speak to God about how in the past he rescued his people.
Psalm 77 is a cry to God in distress. The Psalmist recalls the great
Passover event when God freed his people from slavery in Egypt and says
“What God is great as our God? You are the God who works wonders. You
showed your power among the peoples. Your strong arm redeemed your
The Psalmist goes on to say something so beautiful, real and worth
pondering about the way God works in our lives and world in verse 19
“Your way led through the sea, your path through the mighty waters and
no-one saw your footprints.”
I mention this at Easter time because as Christians we have so much
more to recall about the saving work of our God. The Psalms are true
for us too and that is why we can and do pray them. We identify with
the Passover of God’s people in the Old Testament. Now however because
of Jesus, we have His new Passover. We recall His dying and rising and
how He passed from one to the other through the saving power of a
loving Father.
This touches our lives so profoundly. It’s because of this we know that
we too have been able to pass from the death of sin to the full life in
We know that through all the hardships and difficulties in life God
will bring good. We know that this happens even in the bigger things we
have to face such as serious illness (ours and our loved ones), deep
grief, hurts or disappointments.
Jesus’ death and resurrection has a huge impact on the greatest event
we all have to face, namely our death. In Jesus and in His Passover we
know that death is not a dead end. We actually, like Jesus and with
Jesus, take a purposeful step. We pass from a limited way of living,
thinking and being to a fuller, richer and new way of living and being.

Like the people in the Psalms we also need to recall the Passover of Jesus often and what it did for us.
The Jews make another beautiful step in Faith. As they recall God’s
saving action years ago they believe that this saving power is still
with them and at work in their present lives.
This is also true for us as well, but even more so in our Eucharist.
Our Faith is that with each Eucharist we are not merely recalling His
Passover but Jesus renews His saving death and resurrection for us here
and now. Here and now He shares His saving power with us.
This saving power accompanies us during that day and that week.
This Easter, and throughout life may we continue to recall and
experience the saving power of Jesus in all the situations of our lives.

Bishop of Bunbury, Gerard Holohan

Seeking the risen Jesus in troubled times

Today, many people are living in fear in our troubled financial times.  We are all concerned about the future.
The concern may be employment security, mortgages – or feeding
families. Then there are older people whose income has dropped, who are
worried about how their children are handling the effects in their own
lives or who may be having to help their children with their debts.
Marriages may be coming under strain because weekends away or social
lives are no longer affordable. No longer can unspoken anger or hurts
be ignored.
All can turn to the Risen Christ today
For many, Easter commemorates a past event.  They do not appreciate what the feast can mean for their lives. 
Jesus is Risen!  He is alive!  We can turn to him in troubled times, just like the people of Israel.

The example of those in the Gospels
In the Gospels, we see Jesus approached by young, like the rich young
man, and old, like the elderly woman suffering a haemorrhage.  Parents
sought his help, and so did the many times divorced, like the woman at
the well.
Jesus was approached by those others looked down on, like Mary
Magdalene, and the generally rejected, like Zacchaeus. The sick were
cured and cripples freed from their bonds.  The list goes on.  If we
look closely enough, we will find someone just like us going to Jesus.
He said ‘Come to me all you who labour and are over-burdened, and I
will give you rest.’  So we can approach him as a troubled teenager, or
a parent worried about a child; as a married person uncertain of a
marriage relationship, or someone living alone – Jesus will welcome
If we have lost our job, fear bankruptcy or have been deserted, Jesus calls ‘Come to me….’
Where can we experience Jesus today?
There are many ways we can turn to Jesus.  For example, he is present
spiritually when we reflect on a passage of the Bible, love our husband
or wife, gather with others to pray, care for anyone in need, or seek
the ministry of a priest.
One of the most intimate ways we can approach Jesus personally today is
in our churches, where he is present in the Blessed Sacrament.  The red
lamp reminds us of his invitation, ‘Come to me…’
At first, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved so that the sick and
prisoners could receive Jesus in Holy Communion.  Before long, however,
the Spirit led believers to realise that they could approach Jesus for
personal guidance, support and help in the same way as those we read
about in the Gospels approached him.
We speak of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as ‘the Real Presence’.  He is present body and blood, human and divine.
Jesus experienced life as a son, a family member and a worker.  He knew
poverty and suffering, hunger and rejection, torture and death.  He
knows whatever we are experiencing.
All we need do is focus on his presence and pour out our hearts to
him.  We may pray in our own words or make prayers we have learned. 
If we find this hard, we can just read a little scripture or even
remain totally silent.  We just need to let him guide us through our
thoughts or strengthen us for whatever we are facing.  He wants to
renew and encourage us, comfort and console us – what we need.

Let us show love for those who are troubled
Ideally, we should be able to go to Jesus in a church whenever we
need.  However, security concerns may mean our church is open only
before and after Mass.  These are opportunities to spend some quiet
time with him, sharing our lives.
It is Jesus who draws a parish community together and makes it grow. 
Community grows to the extent that each parishioner’s personal
relationship with Jesus grows.  Personal prayer is essential.
Unfortunately, the level of conversation before and after Mass in many
of our churches these days makes quiet personal time with Jesus almost
impossible.  In times gone by, people socialised outside a church, and
prayed quietly inside. 
Now the socialising has moved inside and those needing quiet personal time with Jesus have no where to go. 
Sometimes people say that talking in church is important for community
– but would anyone seriously claim that parishes where the socialising
has moved inside the church are growing?

An Easter priority
As Catholics, do we not need to do all that we can to help those
troubled by the current financial crisis?  Could not one of the most
important ways we do so be by reminding them that they can approach
Jesus personally in our churches for help in their troubles?
But there needs to be the prayerful conditions in the church for this to become a reality.
Might not this be a time to live Christian charity by allowing all, but
especially the troubled, to pray in our churches before and after Mass
– and to return the socialising outside? In the long term, this would
be a move towards real renewal of our parishes as faith communities.

Easter is about experiencing Christ
Easter is a celebration that Christ is Risen and present among us.  He wants us to draw on him and his power for our lives.
This Easter, let us reflect on whether we need greater faith to
approach the Risen Lord personally in our churches with our life
concerns, like the people in the Gospels – and to contribute to an
atmosphere in our churches that will allow others to do the same.