Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
HAPPY EASTER! With great joy in my heart I announce to you: Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! This ancient greeting sums up what we celebrate this Easter Sunday: the joy of Christ risen and alive in our midst. This is such amazing news that we actually celebrate this reality for eight full days! Each day in this octave of Easter is an occasion to celebrate the most important event in human history! Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
There is much to be joyful about today!
First, and foremost, Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. He has conquered death forever!
Second, we are able to be together this year to celebrate this central mystery of our faith. One year ago, we were unable to celebrate Easter in-person together in Church due to the emerging coronavirus pandemic. We were not even able to gather with our family and friends as we were so accustomed to doing.
Throughout this time of pandemic so much has taken place that has really changed the world around us. There have been so many losses that people have experienced due to this pandemic.
We think of the numbers of people infected with the virus and the significant number of deaths associated with the virus. We think of their families and friends whose lives were so impacted.
We think also of what we have witnessed throughout our country and world in this past year in terms of tragedies. We think of the various acts of racism we have witnessed, the increase in the level of poverty, the destruction of the family, the riots in the streets, the gun violence across the land, and, of course, the great divisiveness we have all witnessed since the Election in the Fall.
In the midst of all of that we gather, both in-person and virtually, on this Easter Sunday because we are UNITED in FAITH. A faith that calls us together. A faith that reminds us that no matter how dark things can get, a new day is dawning.
After the darkness of Good Friday, the brilliant light of Easter Sunday bursts into the world. Christ has conquered sin and death and opened to us the gates of eternal life!
May this Easter message of hope renew our spirits and help us to see the challenges we face through that lens of Easter, knowing that with the power and love of God, any obstacle can be overcome, any challenge can be met with success.
The challenge for each of us is to face each day, even as we start to emerge from the pandemic slowly but surely, with the hope that Easter gives. Each and every one of us face challenges, whether big or small, whether difficult to handle or not, and in these days perhaps we face more than ever, and yet, the joy and hope we have in the Risen Lord allows us to face these challenges with a different focus. We do not face life with a dim and bleak outlook; rather, we face it with hope! For what we celebrate today, namely Easter, gives us hope!
At the Great Vigil on Holy Saturday night, we hear the Easter Proclamation, Exsultet, which so beautifully describes the Resurrection of Jesus. We hear “the sanctifying power of this night dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.”
Yes! But why? “Because this is the night when Christ broke the prison bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld. This is the night that even now, throughout the world, sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices and from the gloom of sin, and this is the night that leads us to grace and joins us to His holy ones.”
That, my friends, is why the resurrection of Jesus gives us the greatest hope! That is why today Christians throughout the world say with great joy “Alleluia, He is risen!”
This great news is in fact something we celebrate each and every week, not only on Easter Sunday, but every Sunday as we gather to celebrate our faith in Jesus Christ. We celebrate this each week as we read and listen to Sacred Scripture, as we pray for our brothers and sisters in need, as we praise and thank God the Father in the midst of the Church, and ultimately as we offer the bread and wine each week which in His great love for us God changes into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Jesus which strengthens us to carry out our mission to “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” That is why every Sunday is so special and that is why when we gather as God’s family we feel so blessed and renewed for our mission!
May our encounter with the risen Lord on our journey of faith touch us deeply and transform us as He did for His Disciples. May the resurrection lead us to be the best version of ourselves; committed to live out our Baptismal covenant. May we become what St Augustine referred to as an “Easter People,” a people transformed into disciples ready to do all we can with the gifts God has blessed us with to Go, and announce the Gospel of the Lord in the world that so longs for the Good News of Jesus Christ.
NEXT weekend we celebrate, as we do every year on the Sunday following Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope John Paul II declared this Divine Mercy Sunday while he was Pope. This devotion is a popular devotion in the life of the church and perhaps it is part of your own regular prayers. This devotion was initiated through the writings of now Saint Faustina, a young Polish nun, who sought to remind others that God is merciful and forgiving and we too must show mercy and forgiveness. This is what the Church has always taught through scripture and tradition, but her writings call us to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone — especially the greatest sinners. The message of mercy is that God loves us — all of us — no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy. As our Gospel this Sunday reminds us nothing could stop the Lord from sharing His mercy and peace with His disciples, not even a locked door. “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” I want that peace, don’t you?
So join us next Sunday at 2:30 PM for the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to conclude the Novena we began on Good Friday. Please join us on our Livestream as well!
There is a Plenary Indulgence attached to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for Divine Mercy Sunday which can be offered for another person or even someone who has died. A Plenary Indulgence is the cancellation of ALL temporal punishment that we owe to God due to our sins! To receive a Plenary Indulgence, you must go to confession, receive holy Communion and pray for the intentions of the pope. That should be done in the days leading up to the feast. Then, on Divine Mercy Sunday, you must “in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus.”
On behalf of myself, Father Federico, Sister Patricia, our deacons, the pastoral staff, and all the parish staff, I want to wish you and your families a blessed Easter. I pray that the Lord will bless each of us with new hope! I pray that each of us will experience an Easter season like never before. I pray this Easter season may be a time of great grace for you and those you love. May the joy and hope that Easter brings into our lives help to quell our fears and strengthen our trust in God and His great love for us. May you experience the presence of the Risen Christ in new and unexpected ways in the weeks to come. Have a blessed Easter and be assured of our love and prayers!
As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings upon us all in this time of pandemic. With the gracious intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and Blessed Michael McGivney, and united in the Eucharist, may we be united with one another in prayer and reflect the presence of Jesus to the world! Please pray for me and know that I am praying for you! Continued prayers for you all to know and experience the joy, the peace, and the hope of the Risen Christ! A Happy and Blessed Easter to you and your family!