Easter Message from the
Archbishop - 2011
Experiencing the New Life
PDF Version: Easter
Dear faithful of the archdiocese,
The Lord is risen, alleluia! Happy Easter to
At the Easter vigil, we heard these words from
the Gospel of Matthew: Come and see. Go and
tell. The resurrection of Jesus gives us a clear mission as the Church.
We are first of all invited to come and see, to
believe in and to experience the power of the resurrection. The
apostles entered the tomb and believed. For her part, Mary Magdalene
was taught to let go of Jesus, to not cling to him, to let him
ascend. That means that like them and like her we are to enter our
own tombs and grieve, mourn and accept our losses through the power
of the Spirit of the Risen Lord. That is how we can experience the
appearances of Jesus.
Later, in the upper room, the apostles who had
denied and abandoned Jesus, experienced his unconditional forgiveness
and were then empowered to forgive. We too, need to let go of
resentments and to forgive anyone who has hurt us through the power
of that same Spirit. That is our experience of the ascension of Jesus.
Then, having experienced the power of the
resurrection in our own lives, we are sent on mission, to go and tell
the whole world what has happened to us, what can happen to all
humanity, and to invite all others to share in this Good News.
What could be more exalted than that? We are
apostles of the resurrection, called to believe, to experience, to
live the resurrection of Jesus in our own lives, and to invite the
rest of the world to join us in walking in newness of life, and in
the likeness of the resurrection of Jesus.
The Returning to our Roots process that we
initiated across the archdiocese the First Sunday of Lent is an
opportunity for us all to experience more deeply this new life of
Easter. Again, I strongly encourage each and every one of us to
participate fully in this process. Especially during this initial
year with its focus on prayer, I invite each community to consider
having a retreat on prayer, as well as special activities throughout
the year on prayer. May we thus deepen our experience of the Risen
Lord in our own lives, families and faith communities.
Sincerely in the Risen Lord and Mary Immaculate,
Most Reverend Sylvain Lavoie OMI
The glory of God is young people
Properly understood and put into
practice, this statement alone, adapted from St. Iraneus, would go a
long way to ending the recent epidemic of suicide among our youth.
Our task as adults is to help our young people live full human lives
that will reflect the glory of God and lessen the incidents of suicide.
A first step in addressing this
issue is to define suicide.
Noted spiritual writer and
theologian Ron Rolheiser writes that suicide is a disease and
generally the most misunderstood of all sicknesses. It takes a person
out of life against his or her will, the emotional equivalent of
cancer, a stroke or a heart attack.
Suicide is never a good thing to be
desired. It leaves behind an immeasurable pain on the part of the
family, relatives and friends of those who do it or even attempt to
do it. We dont have the right to take our own lives. Life is a
gift from God, meant to be lived as God wants it to be lived.
Suicide is a desperate response to
intense painful emotions such as hopelessness and despair that
threaten to overwhelm some wounded youth. They can see no other way
out of their painful situation. There are some people who
through lifes hurts have ended up locked in spiritual prisons
that all the love in the world cannot seem to break through.
A second step is exploring what
brings on suicide.
The experience of a lack of love in
all its forms (addicted parents, neglect by parents, absent parents,
negative peer pressure, trauma, abuse, put-downs and violence, etc.)
leads to a feeling of insecurity, low self esteem, loneliness,
disorder and chaos, and finally addiction and even death.
The sexual permissiveness in our
society, lack of discipline and desire for instant gratification
coupled with an inability to wait for anything is another factor. By
the time youth are in their teens, they have already experienced far
too much far too soon, and they are burnt out, depleted, with nothing
left to look forward to.
Young people are also playing with
fire when they indulge in genital sex that belongs in a mature,
committed relationship. Their ability to handle their emotions is not
developed enough to cope with the devastation that they feel when a
partner with whom they have bonded deeply through genital sex
casually changes relationships. That devastation can and is a cause
of many suicides.
The culture of death that permeates
our society also is a factor. When we condone terminating the life of
the unborn through abortion and ending the life of the weak and old
through euthanasia, we cheapen all life and sow the seeds of suicide
as a way to deal with personal pain and inconvenience. Our total
disrespect for nature and mother earth, leading to a throw-away
society, is another influence.
How do we respond to suicide?
There is a saying that everyone
carries within them their own mystery, and we must respect that
mystery. God alone knows each persons heart and story. The one
thing that we can safely do when someone does take their own life is
not judge that person. We must leave that up to God. We can rest
assured that there are no walls or locked doors that the love of God
in Jesus Christ cannot penetrate. We can pray for, and hold up to
that mercy of God, all those we know who have ended their lives.
We can also extend compassion,
understanding and support for the family members who often carry
feelings of guilt, shame and profound sadness. We can resolve to make
whatever changes we need to make in our own lives to be a more
positive influence in our own communities. We can also grow in our
understanding of suicide as an illness in the face of which some
people are powerless.
How can we prevent suicide?
There are many paths that we can
take to prevent suicide. People who are feeling suicidal most often
display signs of that intent, such as isolating themselves, less
communication, less laughter, lack of friends, poor performance in
school, absenteeism, mood swings and unusual behavior. We must be
open to those signs and respond to those signs.
We must also teach respect for all
of creation and all forms of life, eliminating gossip and treating
each person with dignity. And we need to work hard to prevent any
future such incidents through education, love and caring community action.
The best antidote to suicide is
love and lots of love as trust, caring, affection, listening,
affirmation and sharing. Love leads to a feeling of security, a sense
of belonging, an experience of peace and order, and ultimately a life
of happy free sobriety.
One positive thing we can do is
teach young people that spirituality is all about what we do with our
pain. A weak spirituality runs away from pain. A strong spirituality
deals with pain. Addiction is actually an attempt to avoid legitimate
suffering. We need to teach our youth not to be afraid of emotional
pain. Suffering and pain is not all bad. In fact, there are some
things in life that we can learn only through a certain amount of suffering.
Another path is to work hard at
promoting stronger marriages and closer family life where love is
present and shown as affirmation, attention, understanding and
presence to one another.
We can encourage young people to
keep genital sex for marriage. We can bring back religious and
spiritual values in the school systems, teaching young people to keep
the Great Commandment of loving God, loving others and loving them selves.
Parents especially can put more
energy, time and money into meeting the needs of their children to be
loved, to belong and to be valued. There is probably nothing more
important that parents can do than that. If they have met the
emotional needs of their children, then those youth will be secure
and strong enough to resist negative peer pressure and they will be
able to make positive life choices. Parents who have answered the
emotional needs of their youth are truly successful parents.
As your archbishop, along with our
archdiocesan leadership team, we are very concerned with the high
rate of suicides in our archdiocese, and call on all parents,
community leaders, church workers and professional people, to come
together in an interdisciplinary way to improve the quality of life
of our communities.
As an archdiocese, we are putting
much of our energy, time and resources into providing opportunities
for individuals and communities to heal through initiatives such as
the Emmanuel Process and programs such as Returning To Spirit,
Healing Soul Pain and the Christopher Leadership Course.
Working together and praying for
Gods help, we can make a difference and help our young people
be fully alive rather than try to end their lives prematurely.
+ Sylvain Lavoie OMI
Archbishop of Keewatin-The Pas