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Fr. Ron's Blog

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Dear Friends,
As I write this on the Monday of Holy Week, the temperature outside is only 36 but the sun is shining and the sky is a bright blue, and so, I can be hopeful that we have actually seen the last of winter. And while I wish it would get warmer faster, the week ahead promises to be better than the first three weeks of March.

For the last several days, I have been looking at the rites for Holy Week. Because these celebrations come only once a year, most priests look them over in advance to be sure we know what we’re doing. While I was looking into the Easter Vigil celebration, at which I will preside, as we welcome two new adult members, and three children of catechetical age, into the Church, my attention was drawn to one particular part of the Vigil. Very early in the Vigil, after the congregation has processed into a darkened church, lit only by the single light of the Paschal Candle, the preeminent symbol of Christ, Who lights the world, Deacon Jakov will proclaim The Exultet, the Church’s proclamation of her Easter faith.

I would describe The Exultet as the Church’s totally unrestrained (for a change) burst of joy, a shout-it-from-the-housetop, made for MTV, announcement that no one could, or should, miss. Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven. Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness. Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice, arrayed with the lightening of his glory, let this holy building shake with joy. Words like rejoice, exult, joy and the like are used almost ten times in only twelve lines. Not exactly RAP, but as close to it as you can get in Church song.

Why? The song continues. Christ has conquered! Darkness vanishes! Glory fills you! This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death… when Christians everywhere are freed, when guilt is washed away, innocence is restored, hatred is cast out, when heaven is wedded to earth, when Christ rose from the grave.

And the song closes with a beautiful wish for all of us: “May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star: the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son, who, coming back from death’s domain, has shed his peaceful light on humanity".

When heaven is wedded to earth. That’s what the holy song says. It is wedded forever. Jesus could not stay dead because God-life was in Him. But Easter is not just a remembrance of that God-life. It is also the pledge that the God-life flows in you and me as well. That’s why a parish that is blessed to welcome new members, finds this to be a very special moment. It’s not just because the numbers are increased. It’s because, in a special way, it is a reminder to all of us that the God-life is passed into another person. The God-life that you and I were blessed to receive at our own baptisms, that God-life that has lived and continues to live in you and me. That God-life that gives re-birth to tired souls, and hearts and minds as well.

And can we say we don’t need it? If we’re looking for a phrase that describes our national experience in these days and weeks and months and even longer, this would be it for me, a people of tired hearts, tired minds and tired souls. In the complexities and confusions of life, with all the discordant voices yelling at us, vying for our attention and agreement, with the pressures and anxieties that surround us, sapping our strength, clouding our hope, dampening our spirits, weighing heavily on our hearts, how and where can we find the energy, the encouragement, the oomph we need every day, just to get up, let alone to live in excited enthusiasm for life? Where? As the Easter song says, In the Morning Star which never sets. May He live in you.

One place where this Morning Star seems to be shining, even if not explicitly with Christ in mind, is in so many young people who, collectively, have become a voice against violence. If you were to look back on Valentine’s Day as another Good Friday, you cannot help but imagine last week as a new morning star arising in the hearts of so many youth and lighting the way for us older folk. Though not specifically addressing this issue that confronts America, Pope Francis seems to have been giving encouragement when, in his Palm Sunday homily last week, he told young people, “Dear young people, you have it in you to shout …It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: will you cry out?”

And speaking of the Church, that tiredness has a way of overwhelming us, as well. With discordant voices all around us, with a constant stream of attacks, from the media, from politicians, from disgruntled Catholics for whom the Church is nothing more than another social institution, our faith can be like a flickering flame in the wind, snuffed out at any moment by the overwhelming forces of darkness.

As we gather in church today to celebrate the God-life Who has conquered death, know in your hearts that that God-life can conquer the darkness of our 21st Century world as well. As you gather with your families later, celebrate His victory and be renewed by your faith in the God-life that could never be conquered by darkness, not then, not now.

May the Morning Star, which never sets, shed His peaceful light on all.
A Happy & Blessed Easter
Fr. Ron

PS. Some have asked about the symbolism of the fountain in the sanctuary. During Lent, the sanctuary was filled with plants that are found in the desert, in the wilderness, cactus and the like. And at the center, the Cross. This symbolizes the dryness of our spiritual life, the sins we live with and the salvific suffering of Jesus Who saves us from our sins by His Cross. During Easter that same barren Cross flowers with new life and from that Cross of New Life flow the life-giving waters of baptism, giving new life to all who receive it.

PPS. If you go regularly, or semi-regularly, to the 6:30 Sunday evening Mass, we are sometimes in need of substitute readers, when it’s hard to find any of our very busy youth to read. If you’re interested, please email me. Thanks.

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Mass Schedule

Weekend Liturgies
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday
8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m.,
11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m.,
3 p.m. (Spanish), 6:30 p.m.
Weekday Liturgies
Monday thru Friday,
6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m.,
and 12 noon
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. only
Holy Days
Eve: 7:30pm (anticipated)
6:30am, 8:30am, and 12noon 

 

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