Dear Friends in Christ:
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!
Happy Easter! We want to welcome each and every one of you to our Easter Masses. We welcome those of you who come to worship with us regularly. We welcome those of you who felt a tug on your heart to come back to the Church this Easter. We welcome those who are searching for a parish to call your spiritual home. We welcome those of you who are visiting family and friends and have come here today. We welcome you all! We hope and pray your experience with us this Easter will help you to know that you are invited, welcomed, loved, and respected as part of our parish family! And we pray that you and your family will experience the joy of this wonderful Easter season as we proclaim with joy the good news echoed by followers of Christ throughout the world: Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
This morning we come together to celebrate the most important event in human history: the resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth. This event, recorded in history, verified by eyewitnesses, confirmed by revelation and testified to by God Himself, is the one on which human destiny stands or falls. His Resurrection from the dead means that death no longer has the last say on our lives. Yes, death is still tragic and it is painful when a loved one dies, but it is no longer final. Jesus found a way to come back from the dead, never to die again. He has found a way to defeat death FOREVER. But more than that, he has promised that what has happened to him will happen to each one of us! Like Jesus, we will die—what the New Testament Apostles writing after the resurrection of Jesus referred to as “sleep”—but we will also rise to a new life that does not end.
There can be no greater promise, no greater source of joy and indescribable pleasure than to know that death has been defeated. Set free from the fear of death, you and I can live lives in service to the God of our salvation by sharing this good news with others!
What we do as a church on this Easter feast is to celebrate life: the life of the Risen Christ, the life of the newly baptized, and the renewal of life that has taken place hopefully within each of us as a result of our Lenten journey. With a focus on life, we also have a new found focus on hope for our future. The resurrection of Jesus reminds each and every one of us that death is not an end for us who believe!
The challenge for each of us is to face each day 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 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 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.
On behalf of myself, Father O’Neill, Sister Patricia, our deacons, the pastoral staff, and all the parish staff, I want to wish you and your families a Blessed Easter. May this Easter Season be a time of great grace for you and those you love, and may you experience the presence of the Risen Christ in new and unexpected ways.
Have you met? Recently I was thinking, “Isn’t it wonderful that we have so many ministries in our parish family and so many people involved in the day to day life of our parish?” Then it dawned on me, we need to do something to get the word out about our ministries and help our parishioners to get to know one another better. To meet these objectives I am pleased to announce that today we begin a new section to our weekly bulletin as we launch Have you met? This is a section of the bulletin which will be dedicated each week to highlight a parishioner who is involved in the life of our parish family. Each week we will include a picture of the person, some personal information about them, and information on the ministry they are highlighting that week. It is my hope that this section will help us get to know one another better and perhaps encourage us to meet one another. Further, I hope this section may help us all learn more about the many ministries we have in our parish family, what they do, and how we might be able to become more involved in the life of our parish as we seek to Go, and announce the Gospel of the Lord.
As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world. A Happy and Blessed Easter to you and your family!!!