WELCOME to all Easter worshippers at St. Monica: to our faithful parishioners, family and friends, and visitors joining us for this special feast. This year again, Easter comes at a glorious time of the earth’s rebirth. We can see trees budding, grass greening, perennial flowers coming out into bloom. With this glorious backdrop, we again announce the joyful news: Jesus Christ is Risen from the dead!
It’s a special joy this year to welcome worshippers back to the Triduum (Three Holy Days) services, culminating in the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. Last year no one was in church except the core ministers—here, the Music Director, priests, a deacon and deacon candidate. I can tell you it was really strange to celebrate these most major feasts in the church year this way. I can still see a dark and empty church beyond the sanctuary, two or three people as a congregation. So let’s rejoice that this year most who want to can come to church and attend.
Yes there are still some limitations, but we’ve made a lot of progress together as a nation and world to open up more of the usual opportunities in our lives. Why would we stop cooperating with the measures to keep lessening the pandemic? We won’t if we want further portions of our lives back.
At our parish, signs of Easter hope and joy abound. The Baptisms of little babies and toddlers give us joy and new life—I think seven over the last three weeks. Our youth in a vibrant school, and nearby schools and homes; and high school youth show enthusiasm for their faith. Senior parishioners lead the way with faith and strength. Parish leaders of all ages are moving us into new ministry areas, within the parish community and beyond it. Our website invites people to look at the parish in new, fresh ways, which we’re working to update. We’re being renewed from inside by creative faith sharing, and in the always-strong prayer life of the parish, including now two daily weekday Masses and Eucharistic Adoration; and we have a good group reflecting on the Evangelization writings of the church. New members come each month, in fact we’re planning for some welcoming practices at Mass for the most recent ones.
Of course, there are times with any of us that we don’t feel this joy and hope. Neither did the first apostles, even when they’d seen the Lord. But it’s very sad seeing parish people who, over a long period, don’t talk or act as if Christ has risen in their hearts. and to see what that does to other people, and to the parish. I know it drags me down. I look to the parish to be a center of redeemed people sharing their joy in the Lord, and when someone brings another aim or attitude into it, it can disrupt things greatly. So if we don’t feel the Resurrection, it reminds us that we have to take the joy inside. It’s our joy, and like the apostles, we have to make an act of faith.
Then the signs of the Resurrection will become clearer, and eventually, yes, we’ll feel it.
This year I’m struck by the CONTINUITY of life we have in Jesus. The Resurrection means that even when we may feel an abrupt shift, or a cessation, of life as we know it, in Jesus we rise to a NEW LIFE.
Msgr. Blood and I thank you profoundly for the chance to be your priests, both at the Eucharist and in all the other moments of this amazing parish. May we go on together to be surprised at the new life God still has in store for us in countless ways.