Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

The Bishop Writes

"A pot of gold"

by Bishop William S. Skylstad

(From the Feb. 8, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)

I remember when I was a young boy, my mother told me one time that folks say there is supposed to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The rainbow is indeed beautiful, with its myriad colors, always reflecting the refracted sunlight from the backs of countless raindrops. The raindrops break open the light from the sun. There is something kind of mystical about it, intriguing. Yet, it is a kind of virtual reality. Certainly there is no pot of gold at the end of it.

People look for treasure in life. Some look to the quick way of finding it, through a lottery or a quiz show. Others try risky investments. Some work hard throughout their lives to build up the “treasure.” As Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of Matthew, “Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” So we need to be discerning about this treasure.

The liturgical year in some ways is like a rainbow. We even use colors of vestments at our celebrations to reflect the various liturgical seasons. Just as raindrops break open the light from the sun, the liturgical year breaks open for us the beauty of God’s presence and love in our lives.

We begin our liturgical year with the season of Advent, preparing for the coming of Jesus, and conclude with the Feast of Christ the King. One of the important and fruitful times of our liturgical year is Lent, which will soon be upon us.

We probably haven’t thought a lot about finding “treasure” in Lent. However, it is a time of discovery: a serious discovery of the richness of this special time. During Lent, we can search for a deeper appreciation of God’s presence in our lives and assess how we take responsibility for responding to that presence. People today search for a lot of things, including the illusory goal of thinking that the “pot of gold” will make them happy and fulfilled. Lent should help us address those kinds of distracting temptations as we all strive to be aware of the full reality of the kingdom of God and find true peace.

Lent helps us to appreciate more fully where our heart is – or maybe where it should be. It’s a special time for deeper commitment, conversion, transformation, and journeying once again through these 40 days, to the glorious celebration of Holy Week and Easter. Real treasure in life is not measured by gold, but by our gift of faith, our journey in faith, our appreciation of community (with all of its imperfections), our participation in Eucharist, and the liturgical life of the Church.

Each season we live Lent, we can discover something new in the treasure of faith. The rainbow of life’s experiences becomes a source of appreciating how God touches our lives, sometimes very surprisingly and mysteriously. The discovery of the treasure is not always in the happy and joyful moments, but may very well be in our hurt and pain as well. I marvel again and again at the saints who could struggle mightily with their situations and yet exude such a positive and joyful spirit. Attitudes like that just don’t happen. They are clear indications of how God forms the human heart if we are open to that initiative of the Holy Spirit. Such a process doesn’t normally occur in a minute or a short period of time … it’s a long, lifetime process that is never really completed during our time on Earth. That’s why every Lent is a rich, opportune moment. We can make the commitment to enter this season seriously and prayerfully. The treasure awaits….

This is also the time when we again involve ourselves in our Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA). This longstanding tradition of the diocese enables all of us to participate in the mission of the Church and be good stewards of our resources in supporting that mission. I am most grateful for the many years of generosity and commitment from so many. Last year, we came close to the largest ACA ever. I again ask you to be generous as your means permit. You will be receiving literature which will give you a wealth of information about the many works of the diocese which make up our ongoing mission, of being Church, and serving our parishes and God’s people here in Eastern Washington.

Such an appeal causes me to reflect personally on how I use my resources and how much I participate in the ACA, as well as the other appeals through out the year. As the saying goes, our checkbooks are a good examination of conscience. The ACA has assisted us in accomplishing so much over the years. Speaking about treasure, strange as it may seem, there also is “treasure” in giving. People who are remarkably generous fill not only their own hearts but fill the hearts of others as well.

Blessings and peace to all of you. Have a blessed (and rich) Lenten season!

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