'As new signs of life abound, we pray for life in the Spirit.'

By: The Most Rev. Robert D. Gruss

Signs of new life are popping up all around us as winter has given way to a beautiful springtime in our state. This is one of my favorite times of the year. There is a birthing going on in nature – new calves romping in the fields, the budding of the trees, the blossoming of plants, flowers beginning to don clothes of brilliant colors, the grass beginning to return to its brilliance of green. All of these things give us a sense that the miracle of new life is taking place. The dead of winter has been transformed into what we have all been waiting for: warmth, sunshine and opportunities to experience the outdoors once again.

God, through the love and blood of Jesus Christ, has brought springtime into our midst."

But we also just celebrated the miracle of new life in the Easter event, “the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ, who coming back from death’s domain, has shed his peaceful light on humanity, and lives and reigns forever and ever.” At the heart of this miracle stands a God who embraces a fragile world with a love so profound, a love so undeserved, yet so freely offered and given. God’s love for all of creation has led to this intervention into our lives in order to save us from our sinful natures and our own barrenness. God, through the love and blood of Jesus Christ, has brought springtime into our midst. Ask the Risen Lord to open your heart to this beautiful gift, one that keeps giving.

This was very evident at the Easter Vigil celebrations across our diocese as men, women and children were fully initiated into the life of Christ and his Church. They experienced new life in a special way and have “put on Christ.” A new day has dawned for them. The grace of Christ scattered the darkness of their lives and brought forth to them this Easter joy. We give thanks to God for their witness and desire for the Lord Jesus.They are living signs to us of the power of the Holy Spirit among us. Please continue to pray for them asking the Lord to deepen this desire within them (and us).

Throughout this Easter season, I am inviting everyone who reads this article to pray daily for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives."

For much of the world, Easter may seem for many a one-day event. But for Christians who live the Easter joy, we know that the Easter season spans 50 days, concluding on the great feast of Pentecost, when we relive the outpouring of the promised Holy Spirit upon Mary and the apostles gathered in prayer. Throughout this Easter season, I am inviting everyone who reads this article to pray daily for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This renews us in our relationship with Christ and our dedication of our call to discipleship. We all need this whether we are the bishop, a priest, deacon, religious or layperson. In many ways today, our culture in America is much like the culture during the time of the early church immediately following the resurrection. Therefore, we need this renewal in the power of the Holy Spirit more than ever.

A renewed encounter with the Holy Spirit will not only bring new life to our lives, but also to our families, parishes and our diocese. I am praying for this tremendous gift. Therefore, I am asking every person and every parish across our diocese to join with me in praying a novena to the Holy Spirit in preparation for the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 23 (you can start this Novena on any day including today). We all need a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. An authentic and renewed conversion to our Lord Jesus Christ can only happen through the power of the Holy Spirit, that same Spirit that transformed the lives of those disciples in the upper room at Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit changes hearts, changes situations and changes lives."

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit radically changed the early disciples from fearful, scared, lost men and women into courageous witnesses to Christ and enlightened heralds of his Word. It was the Spirit who guided them along the difficult and new paths of mission, that same mission that has been given to every baptized person. We ask the Holy Spirit to bring about an amazing renewal among us.

By the time you are reading this, hopefully you will have received the Novena to the Holy Spirit I mailed to you along with my Easter letter. The novena is also available on the diocesan website, www.saginaw.org. Special thanks to the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) for offering this novena for us to pray.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love!