Happy Easter!

This article originally appeared in the parish bulletin on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Welcome

I want to wish every one of you a blessed and happy Easter! I am so happy to welcome our visitors and the extended family of our parishioners, who come in great numbers on this day. I am pleased to welcome in particular those we do not see except at the great feasts; you, too, have a home here. I hope you’ll come back more and more.

Many Thanks!

These days bring the most complicated and beautiful liturgies of the Church year, and so I want to thank our music director, David Dunst, and the members of the choir, for all of the preparation they have done to be able to assist us in worshipping God as best we can. Everyone who is involved in our music program has spent many hours here; your efforts have been worth it!  I thank our altar servers, who have put so much effort into these celebrations, and those who helped me with the practices. I also want to thank those many people who step forward to see to the details of these days, including our teams of sacristans and lectors. Those who take care of our liturgical environment spend long hours throughout the year to enhance our worship experience, carrying around plants and hauling full containers of water long after everyone else has gone home. At this time of year the fruit of their labors is especially evident. On behalf of the entire parish, I express our gratitude to each of you!

Joined to Christ in the Sacraments

I would like to remind everyone that this fullness of sacramental life in the Church comes only after the reception of all three sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. Increasingly, there are those who were never baptized as infants, whether they are adults or school aged children. They are invited to begin to prepare for the great sacrament that makes us Christians: Baptism. Everyone should also know that only a confirmed Catholic is able to serve as a godparent, and those who wish to be married in the Catholic Church also need to be confirmed. I hope anyone who has not yet received the three sacraments of initiation would take the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection as a call to move towards the fullness of life in the Church. Give the parish office a call, and if you’re visiting from elsewhere, call up a church near your home.

Praise to the Risen Lord

These lines are from the Easter proclamation, the Exsultet, which we hear as the Easter Vigil begins:

This is the night when Christ broke the prison bars of death, and rose victorious from the underworld. … O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer! O truly blessed night, worthy alone to know the time and hour when Christ rose from the underworld! … O truly blessed night, when things of heaven are wed to those of earth, and divine to the human.

A New Pope

As today’s bulletin is likely to be read by many who do not regularly read it, I know I must bring up again the most discussed religious news in years. Catholics and in fact many around the world have been stunned by the events that began on February 11, when Pope Benedict XVI informed the cardinals that he was renouncing the papacy, and that the Apostolic See would fall vacant on the evening of February 28. We all know now that the conclave began on March 12, and that Jorge Maria Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected on March 13, taking the name Francis. Pope Francis continues to surprise all with his significant departures from the practices that were customary for his predecessors. While I think we ought to draw back from applauding changes in papal style simply for the sake of change, I will say that the changes that Pope Francis has made signal a special love for those who are most often overlooked: prisoners, the disabled, the sick, manual laborers. A specially scheduled Mass for the gardeners and sanitation workers of Vatican City seems to me to be a way of reaching out with love to people without flashy occupations, who labor unnoticed around crowds of tourists and Church officials. How wonderful it is that our new Holy Father wants to make them aware of how important they are! The Pope was to celebrate Mass on Holy Thursday and wash the feet of the inmates of a juvenile detention center. He personally called a newspaper stand in Buenos Aires to cancel his paper delivery at his former home in Argentina, asking the owner’s son who answered to greet the entire family. These actions are certainly touching! Perhaps they signal that Pope Francis has a clear intention to do whatever he believes needs to be done. This intention will affect us as the beautiful faith we as Catholics share is proclaimed simply and with acts of love. We should do the same.

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