Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In many ways and on many levels this has been a very difficult Lent. While I have found it tough to travel my personal journey, it still has been very spiritually rewarding.
Interestingly enough, the burdens of this Lent did not come from within or from any particular Lenten practice, but rather from the many external forces which have deeply affected me — the Cross seems to be clearly evident. I suppose that this has been true for many of us during this Lent of 2012.
Violence seems to be everywhere: the Middle East sees death and destruction in country after country; Christians in Iraq and Iran are persecuted; Catholic churches are bombed in Nigeria almost on a weekly basis; and among our young in Europe and even in our own country, shootings are becoming more and more prevalent.
The world’s economic problems continue to force many to struggle with unemployment, hunger, homelessness and poverty, and the immediate outlook for improvement is quite limited.
The issue of the sexual abuse of children, still a problem within our own Church has proven to be a massive societal evil in all parts of the world and among every socio-economic group.
The quest for personal freedom is a struggle for peoples through the world and in our own country, we see the attempts to limit freedom of religion both on institutional and personal levels. The very issue that brought countless numbers of our ancestors to these shores is now in jeopardy.
Yes, during this Lent, the Cross has loomed very large on the horizon of our lives.
However, Lent does come to an end … the darkness of the season leads into the Light of the Resurrection and it is this hope that keeps us strong and positive amidst the difficulties we face day after day. There is always a new day that follows a dreary night if we are willing to deal effectively with the darkness.
Jesus tells us that we must embrace the Cross and through our willingness to “take up the Cross and follow Him,” we can pass from death to life, from despair to hope, from darkness to light.
I have come to a deeper awareness of the value and necessity to respect the dignity of every human person; this violent world has led me to reach out more carefully to those who face many demons in their lives.
The persecution of Christians has made me more thankful for my faith and certainly more committed than ever. The weak economy has caused many families to do things together and communities to face struggles in a united way, thus effecting stronger bonds of friendship and love.
The sexual abuse crisis has made us all much more aware of the need to be observant and diligent in the protection of children and the current challenge of religious freedom will unite people of faith in a deeper appreciation of the many freedoms we enjoy in this great country in which we live.
We do embrace the Cross, and in so doing we come ever nearer to enjoying the triumph of the Resurrection.
May you have a blessed Easter and may this holy season bring peace and comfort to us all.
+Robert E. Guglielmone
Bishop of Charleston