As I write for this weekend, I am in the midst of signing 170 1st Communion certificates. (FYI, in 1997, there were 149 1st Communions & in 2007, there were 213 1st Communions). We are beginning three weekends of celebrations for one of the happiest moments in the life of a parish, the reception of the Eucharist for the first time for our children. After eight months of preparation, they will come to the altar to receive Jesus’ greatest gift to His Church, HIMSELF, IN HIS REAL PRESENCE, for the life of the believer. And in little more than a month, Bishop Cruz will give the gift of the Holy Spirit to 203 of our 9th graders in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
EASTER HOMILY 2017
In one of the November issues of America, there was, perhaps, the shortest poem about resurrection. It went like this:
After the agony and humiliation of crucifixion,
would you be willing to
Give up the cold comfort of death
for the pain of rebirth and cell-splitting joy of glory?
There are some traditional things that need to be done on certain occasions and the Sunday after Easter is one of those occasions, and the traditional thing is to say, “thank you.”
So, let me express my thanks to all those who helped make the Holy Week and Easter services so moving. I want to especially say thanks to Fr. Robert and the liturgical ministers who planned and carried out some unique Masses/services which really happen only once a year.
A brief step backward – to Palm Sunday, most especially the Palm Sunday procession from Veterans’ Field to the church and the celebration of the 12:30 Mass. I’m never good at estimating the number of people in church and I would be even worse to try to estimate the numbers who joined for the procession, but I do know it stretched for several blocks. Someone ventured a number between two and three hundred. Whatever the number, it was a moving experience of faith, this re-enactment of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. It gave testimony to Jesus and to faith in Him and to a continued commitment to live that faith, publicly, in a world that sometimes seems to have lost its faith.
Below is a repeat of an article I wrote a few years ago. The importance of Holy Week hasn’t changed; neither have my thoughts on the subject. With school being closed this week, it is my fear that many will forget that for us, who call ourselves Christians, this is, in fact, the holiest week of the year. May we, who are around, see the significance of these days and observe them accordingly. I wish I could believe that wherever they are, our brothers and sisters in faith would do the same.
I have mentioned several times in these Lenten columns that we have been reading from cycle A of the three-year cycle of readings. These readings speak especially to the catechumens, those preparing to be baptized at the Easter Vigil, but to all of us, as well. Three weeks ago, in the Gospel of the Transfiguration, the voice from heaven told Peter, James and John, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” As the catechumens hear this, they might ask, “Listen to Him about what?” And the Church has been answering them for the last two weeks, and this week as well. With the woman at the well (two weeks ago), Jesus has told us that He knows we have a thirst – for meaning, for fulfillment, for love, for life and that HE is the only real, life-giving water that will quench that thirst. With the man born blind (last week), Jesus has told us He can bring light into the darkness of our lives, help us to see the road in front of us, and point us in the right direction.
Varia – a number of unrelated items
On the Gospel. Continuing with the Gospel readings in cycle A, as with last week’s Gospel, today’s Gospel comes from the Gospel of John. As with the gospel of the Samaritan woman, it is filled with symbols. The blind beggar is never identified by name and the word John uses to denote him implies the blind condition of humankind in general. This blind beggar (blind humankind) never asks for a cure, never asks to see. Continuing the work of the Creator, Jesus molded clay and touched the man. This new sight that is about to be given (not restored, because the beggar was born blind) is a free gift from Jesus. Using mud as if it were an oil of anointing, he smears it on the man’s eyes and sends him off to wash (the waters of baptism) and having washed, he returns able to see. Eventually, after two run-ins with the Jewish leaders, he encounters Jesus again and now Jesus offers him the chance to believe. And the man responds that he believes, much as the Samaritan woman did in last week’s gospel.
I turn again to the Lenten Gospels. I have mentioned many times that the Church uses a three-year cycle of readings for the Sunday liturgies. These are generally identified as the year of Matthew (Cycle A), the year of Mark (Cycle B) and the year of Luke (Cycle C). We are in the year of Matthew, Cycle A, and have been reading from Matthew since the end of the Christmas season. The themes of the first two Sundays of Lent, no matter what cycle is read, are always the same, the temptation in the desert (1st Sunday) and the transfiguration (2nd Sunday) and we read Matthew’s recounting of these events on the last two Sundays.
Today, we continue on our Lenten journey. Every 1st Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading always relates the Temptation in the Desert. Whether from Matthew, Mark or Luke, the Gospels on that 1st Sunday call us to enter into the Lenten season facing the devil and all the temptations he throws at us, so that we may use this time as our own desert fast (like Jesus), to reject the devil, and all his works (the baptismal promise we will renew on Easter Sunday) and live more faithfully the Christian calling that is ours.
I hope everyone made a good beginning of Lent by their observance of Ash Wednesday. Today is the 1st Sunday of Lent. We all know about Lent. When I think about Lent, I think about “giving up,” about fasting, about the “color purple,” about A & P Catholics (ashes and palms, and for folks my age, “hot cross” buns (remember them?). Lent is filled with so many images.
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m.,
11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m.,
3 p.m. (Spanish), 6:30 p.m.
Monday thru Friday,
6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m.,
and 12 noon
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. only
Eve: 7:30pm (anticipated)
6:30am, 8:30am, and 12noon