Dear Parishoners, +JMJ
Happy Easter! Although Christmas is perhaps the feast that people celebrate most exuberantly each year, Easter really is the first and highest feast of the liturgical calendar. Of course, Easter couldn’t happen without Christmas. But, Easter is the actual culmination of the mission that the Son of God began by becoming a man on Christmas. At the end of a life of perfect love, crowned with a three-year ministry leading to his passion, the Son of Man is plunged into the middle of the devil’s greatest weapon – death itself. But, with no sin in Jesus which the devil could grasp onto, the Father raises Jesus from the dead and breaks the back of death forever. Despite all the sufferings and temptations that can come our way in this world, we must believe in the ultimate victory of Jesus Christ. We must hope for an endless future of bliss, given that Jesus Christ has overcome our greatest enemy. The deepest desire in you and me – the desire to live forever – can actually become reality, because Jesus has overcome death. And, in Him, you and I also can overcome death. Happy Easter!
On another note, I want to give you a heads-up on the way April looks for me. Soon after all the Easter ceremonies, I will leave town for a number of days of respite and retreat. This will actually serve as my canonical retreat. I’ll be back for next weekend’s Masses, so I’ll only be missing weekdays. However, something else has developed for later in the month.
This past fall, the Bishop asked me to do some ongoing education so that I could help the Diocese out with some special needs. The ongoing education course I have to attend is held in Rome, Italy; so I will be missing two weekends later in the month: April 14-15 and 21-22. This request from the Bishop was a total surprise to me, so it sticks out as a chunk of time I’m away from the parish; and it just wasn’t planned in advance. I just got back from the Holy Land pilgrimage in February! So, I ask your patience with this ongoing education, and your prayers that it be fruitful for the Diocese and for me.
One particular regret I have about the timing of this course is the fact that the second weekend I will miss – April 21-22nd – is First Communion weekend. What a special time that is! Jesus has been waiting some 2000 years to give himself to these particular youth of our parish on that weekend, Body, Soul, Blood and Divinity! The Catechism teaches us that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. What a huge moment for our parish and for each of these youth receiving Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time! I never would want to miss such a weekend, if I could determine the dates myself… But I can’t. Please know that I will be with all of our first communicants and their families in prayer as they receive their First Holy Communion.
Since we’re having guest priests for those two weekends, I am suggesting that the deacon serving at each Mass be the one to distribute First Holy Communion to each of our first communicants. You all know our goodhearted deacons, and given the way they have served our parish, it will be very special receiving First Communion from each one of them.
Have a blessed Easter Season!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,