Dear friends in Christ,
|Bishop Daniel Felton
Believe in the Good News
Recently, I released my Pastoral Letter, “The Dawn From On High Shall Break Upon Us: Healing, Hope and Joy in Jesus.” In the letter, we are challenged to be aware of our personal and regional mission fields, with an emphasis of bringing the healing power of Jesus to all that we encounter and accompany wherever they may be in the journey of life.
As I move around our diocese and engage in a number of conversations about your personal life, family life, parish life, and the life of the communities in which we dwell, I am so aware of how much grieving we are all experiencing at so many levels and in so many ways. This grieving encompasses personal loss of loved ones; families on the move to find employment; parishes with fewer parishioners; factories, schools, and businesses closing in our community, a post-COVID world that looks and feels very different than it did before.
What is the grieving that is most impacting you, your family, your parish, and your community at this time? Pray about that for a moment. What comes into your heart and mind? Can you put this grieving into words and say it out loud?
Grieving is a necessary experience for healing to take place. The need to embrace and to work through grieving is very needed, as a grieving which is avoided will always come back to us, if not now then later. Grieving has many stages: anger, denial, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and hope. As you identify what you are grieving, how are you grieving and what is the manifestation of your grieving at this time?
Acknowledging your grieving, how can you allow the healing of Jesus to enter into your hurting and sadness? Jesus came into this world and became one with us so that he himself might experience the depth of our hurting. We are told that when Jesus learned of the death of his friend Lazarus, he wept outside his tomb. Jesus knows what it is to grieve. And he knows your grieving. Even now, Jesus is walking with you as he did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus as they were grieving.
As Jesus accompanies you, your family, your parish, or your civic community in the grieving process, surrender your grieving into his hands and Sacred Heart. Jesus is healing and is our promise of new life. After grieving the death of his friend, Lazarus, Jesus goes on to bring him back to life here on earth. It was a sign that Jesus is the Lord of life over death, hope over despair, healing over hurt, and joy over tribulation. In Jesus, every ending will have a new beginning. Every hurt can be healed, not by yourself alone, but with the real presence of Jesus raising you from your grief to new life.
Additionally, we cooperate with the healing grace of Jesus as we accompany one another in our grieving, sometimes as a family member, friend, counselor, spiritual director, pastor — Jesus can use each one of us in a unique special way or role to be an instrument of his healing presence. The one thing we know for sure: Walking alone through grief is very difficult.
As we begin to identify the mission field that is longing to know and embrace the healing of Jesus, be it the person in front of me or all the people within my parish or regional mission boundaries, let us be healed by Jesus ourselves. We cannot give to others that which we do not have ourselves. Then, filled with the healing that Jesus brings to your hurt and grief, go out to your family, parish, and community to be for others the healing presence that we can only find in Jesus.
Truly, in our grieving, the dawn from on high is breaking upon us!
Bishop Daniel Felton is the tenth bishop of Duluth.