Dear Parishioners: A blessed Easter! It took us 40 days to prepare for Easter—that’s what Lent was all about—so now it takes us 40 days to celebrate Easter. That will bring us up to the Feast of the Ascension, when Jesus, risen from the dead, after spending 40 days with His disciples, returned to His Father in heaven. Actually, it doesn’t even end there, because then, on the Ascension, we’ll unite with Our Lady and the Apostles in a novena, nine days of prayer, bringing us to Pentecost Sunday and the gift of the Holy Spirit. So join with me in saying “Happy Easter” for the 50 days after the great Feast! And, of course, every Sunday is a “little Easter,” as we come together on the first day of the week at Mass to profess our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus.
We sometimes call this season of rejoicing the paschal season, or paschaltide. We sing alleluia with vigor, keep the sanctuary decorated with lilies, give the paschal candle prominence, and wear the dazzling white or gold vestments. Our catechumens and candidates are no longer “waiting,” but now are full members of the Catholic Church, and their faithful presence after their baptism, confirmation, first Eucharist, and profession of faith at the Easter Vigil, reminds us of the power of the sacraments, and the constant growth of the Church.
Our OLM second-graders having made their first confession during Lent, are eager to receive our Lord in Holy Communion for the first time this coming May, and that beautiful ceremony will be a time for family unity and spiritual renewal for our entire parish family. Our young teens are finishing preparation for the wonderful sacrament of Confirmation and await the gift of the Holy Spirit as they enter high school. Couples approach the altar for the holy sacrament of matrimony, eager to seal their love and conform it to divine love: forever, faithful, and life-giving. Our young parishioners graduate from eighth grade at OLM School and from high schools and colleges, trusting in God for a future full of promise and hope. And, during these paschal days, candidates for Holy Orders kneel before a bishop to be ordained deacons and priests, and bind themselves to the Risen Jesus and His Church.
Look around and see the radiance of our Lord’s risen life exploding in the sacraments and blessed events all over the place! Spring helps set the tone, doesn’t it? The earth itself is alive; winter is over; gardens are being planted; grass, flowers, trees growing; each day sees more light than darkness. Nature mirrors super-nature, as God’s life flourishes in our souls and in the Church. It’s all about the paschal mystery: the dying and rising of Jesus, and our share in it. Jesus invites us to die with Him to sin, selfishness, and Satan, and rise with Him to new life. That’s the sacred rhythm of Christian discipleship: at times we’re on the cross with Jesus; at other times we’re risen to new life with Him.
Pope Francis in his Easter homily last year reminds us: “We cannot live Easter without entering into the mystery. It is not something intellectual, something we only know or read about. It is more, much more! To enter into the mystery means the ability to wonder, to contemplate; the ability to listen to the silence and to hear the tiny whisper amid great silence by which God speaks to us. To enter into the mystery demands that we not be afraid of reality: that we not be locked into ourselves, that we not flee from what we fail to understand, that we not close our eyes to problems or deny them, that we not dismiss our questions, To enter into the mystery means going beyond our own comfort zone, beyond the laziness and indifference which hold us back, and going out in search of truth, beauty and love. It is seeking a deeper meaning, an answer, and not an easy one, to the questions which challenge our faith, our fidelity and our very existence.”
Best wishes for a Happy Easter! “He has risen as He said, alleluia, alleluia!”