Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Bishop Joseph Tyson, Archdiocese of Seattle
the Inland Register
(From the Aug. 19, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
Dear Bishop Cupic:
Welcome to Washington State! Welcome to the Diocese of Spokane! When I reflect on the natural beauty of our area, I cannot but help recall the words from the Canticle of Daniel which we pray on the first Sunday in our four-week cycle of psalms and canticles from our Roman breviary: “…Mountains and hills, bless the Lord. Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord. You springs, bless the Lord. Seas and rivers, bless the Lord…” (Daniel 3:75-76)
These poetic images of rich Middle East agriculture taken from the Book of Daniel align tightly could just as easily capture the landscape of our own region. The Cascade Mountains, the rolling wheat fields of the Palouse Country, the “Pothole” lakes formed by ancient receding glaciers all speak to the artistry of a good and gracious God.
Yet in praying these words it is easy to forget that in the Book of Daniel these words are first prayed by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, young Jewish exiles who have been tossed into a burning furnace by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. These youths purposely sing praise of their land even as they are persecuted for their faith. Yet they escape King Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace in such a way that, “…not a hair on their heads had been singed…” (Daniel 3:94) In doing so, prefigure the even unimaginably greater beauty that comes from Jesus Christ who, as God, brings us to the beauty of God.
What a lesson for all of us in Church leadership today! Certainly it would be far too easy for any of us to get lost in furnace-hot challenges posed by Nebuchadnezzars of own era. Yet as Pope John Paul the Second noted in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Pastores Gregis, “The Bishop is called in a particular way to be a prophet, witness and servant of hope. He has the duty of instilling confidence and proclaiming before all people the basis of Christian hope. The Bishop is the prophet, witness and servant of this hope, especially where a culture of ‘the here and now’ leaves no room for openness to transcendence.”
This is the great hope of Jesus Christ which you already shared as Bishop of Rapid City South Dakota – a diocese whose topography and natural beauty match that of Eastern Washington. This hope of Jesus Christ is what also animates your service to your brother bishops across the United States in your leadership of the Bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Youth and your desire to assure that nothing and no one violates the beauty of our faith in this, his Church.
Building on the long and dedicated ministry of Bishop Skylstad, I know this great hope of Jesus Christ is what you will now bring to this landscape of beauty populated with the urban families of the Spokane valley, the rural ranchers, wheat farmers and vintners of Eastern Washington, the Native Americans living both on and away from tribal lands, as well as an emerging rural Hispanic community.
Please know that as I cast my eyes across the mountains and hills of Eastern Washington when traveling for your installation as Bishop of Spokane, my heart will be lifted in prayer for you, for your ministry as Bishop, and for the beautiful people you are now called to serve as Chief Shepherd.
With every best wish, prayer and blessing,
Fraternally yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson