I have always believed that the journey of ten thousand miles begins with the “first step.” That, my brothers and sisters is what I am doing here. This is the first step of many I hope to take with you in the coming years of my ministry in the Diocese of La Crosse. I am a firm believer in the importance of communication and like to take advantage of any opportunity I can to be in touch with all of you, my dear brother priests and deacons, consecrated men and women, trusted collaborators in mission, benefactors and friends, and the Faithful of the Diocese.
This little missive will come along weekly to “keep in touch.” I will try to share some of my personal thoughts along with an effort to comment on things that may seem pertinent and helpful to our general well being as Catholics trying to fulfill the mission of Christ together in His Church. It will, further, serve as a means of exercising my obligation as teacher and pastor of the diocese. Sometimes, I fear, it is far too easy to simply think of the bishop only as the administrator of temporal matters.
I have chosen the words of Psalm 46, specifically, verses 4 and 5, to be the title for this opus. Most of the time, I hope to write this from my home office that sits, thanks to Bishop John Patrick Treacy, along the backwaters of the beautiful Mississippi. The inspiration came somewhat easily given the scenery. No doubt, the Psalmist understood the significance of water. God inspired the application to His purpose:
There is a river whose streams
Make glad the city of God,
The holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city;
It shall not be moved;
God will help it when the
Scripture uses the themes of water to continually remind us of the life giving power of God. Our ancestors understood this concept, perhaps, much more clearly than we. Water, nevertheless, is still a universal symbol of life, new birth, refreshment, cleansing, healing, and sustenance. The river of God wells up in each of us through Baptism and the sacraments of the Church thus the Life of Christ sustains our spiritual lives.
Sitting along the banks of the Mississippi I am struck by the magnificence of God’s grandeur and providence. This seemed like the perfect inspiration for this communication and a fitting title. I look forward to spending more time with you in the future as we contemplate the goodness of God together.