Our Easter Mission

May the splendor of Christ risen from the dead fill your hearts and minds!

The Easter Season is a time of grace, conversion and consolation from the Lord!  I know that many of us are experiencing special gifts of grace that make change possible at this time.

In the first reading the disciples are speaking and doing things in the name of Jesus.  Peter and John had just recently healed a crippled beggar.  The authorities are offended and upset about publicizing Jesus’ name because they executed him.  Who are the authorities in our day who oppose public prayer or recognition of God as source of life and love?  Who are the ones who speak out in the name of Jesus regardless of the opposition?  The disciples felt honored to have suffered for the sake of the name of Jesus, what do you do with your discomforts, inconveniences and suffering?

The Gospel reading takes us to the sea shore and the story of the great catch of fish.  In this story, John, as the one who loves, is the first to recognize Jesus—love is always the first to believe!  Peter jumps out of the boat again.  The net is dragged to shore but doesn’t tear.  Jesus feeds them again which is the third time Jesus shows his presence in the Eucharist since he rose from the dead.  And Peter is fully reconciled to Jesus then gifted with his mission to follow Jesus.

That is a lot to unpack!  I will just say that the net signifies the Gospel with its capacity and power to gather people of every language and culture into an unbreakable unity of faith and love.  This is at the heart of the mission of the Church.  Peter’s reconciliation with Jesus empowers him to be a reconciler between the human race and God.  Forgiveness of sins brings salvation to the whole world and Peter has a special role to play in it!  You and I have a special role to play in our giving testimony to the great things God has done for us!  Like the disciples, let us do it with joy, confidence and in a most congenial way!  May God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Divine Mercy

Happy Easter!  May the Divine Mercy raise you up in hope and courage!

Mercy Sunday is a special day for those around the world who have made the effort to pray the Divine Mercy Novena beginning Good Friday and culminating the second Sunday of Easter.  The Chaplet of Divine Mercy was given to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska on Good Friday in 1935 by Jesus who wanted her to pray it as a Novena (9 days) with special intentions for each of the nine days it was prayed.   St. Faustina relates in her Diary that Jesus made several promises to grant many special graces to those who would pray the Novena.  This Sunday many of the faithful will begin to realize the graces and gifts that Jesus promised to those who would pray the Chaplet.  Those who were included in the intentions will receive life changing graces in their lives as well!  I am very happy that we include praying the Chaplet in our parishes, especially at St. Edward where it is prayed with the Rosary before all Masses.  Jesus also made promises to those who would display an image of the Divine Mercy which is prominently displayed in our Churches at St. Thomas, St. Bernard and St. Edward.  The rays streaming from the heart of Jesus in the image have symbolic meaning: red is for the blood of Jesus which is the life of souls and the pale color is for water and Baptism which justifies souls (diary par. 299).  The whole image is symbolic of charity, divine love and forgiveness referred to as the “Fountain of Mercy.”

This Sunday the Divine Mercy devotion will begin at St. Edward at 3:00pm.  All are invited to attend.  There will be Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and then concluded with Solemn Benediction.

May God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

He Is Risen!

Happy Easter! Alleluia!

It’s hard to imagine what the first Easter must have been like.  There were only a small number of people who followed Jesus and they had just suffered a horrible, tragic loss in seeing him die on the cross.  They were still feeling the shock waves of his death when a couple of people they knew reported the unthinkable—He is risen!  The event of the resurrection of Jesus sets Christians apart from the world in a special way.  Look around you.  There are more people in Church today for one reason.  Jesus died, to take away our sins and then rose again!  You are here and so are they because they believe, they have faith and hope in God’s mercy and the resurrection to eternal life.  Millions of people around the world have made a special effort to get dressed up and go to Church today to celebrate what their faith means to them.  Like you, I wish everyone had a strong faith and a sense of purpose about what to do with their faith.  Imagine what our world could be like if everyone worked together to build societies that honored God and put the Gospel values into action!  I am reminded that the followers of Jesus were few but they grew in number because they lived a sincere faith and the Lord showed his favor through them.  We have the same opportunity.  If the world we live in is to grow in holiness and remain a good place to live, then the faith that brings us here must go out with us into our homes, our schools, our places of work, our neighborhoods, our public policies and wherever else we go.  We must be glad to share what our faith gives us with other people.  The tomb is empty because God raised him from the dead!  There are those who would roll the stone back over the tomb by covering up their faith or by denying what really happened by sliding back into fear, anger or any form of darkness that leads to a dead end .  As a people of faith, let this Easter be the time when we sincerely recall our salvation and rededicate ourselves as disciples of Jesus.  He gave us the Gospel and its power!  Let our words and actions show our good will and the Good News of the resurrection! +++ Fr. Peter

Holy Week

Grace and peace to you!

Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday begins Holy Week.  It is called Holy Week because through the scriptures this week, we are brought into the historical account of Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion and death: his sacrifice and love for us that won our salvation.  The liturgies this week take on a special character too.  This is partly due to the focus on the passion of Jesus in the readings but also because we engage our physical senses through doing things out of the ordinary like, the reception of the holy oils, the washing of the feet, the empty tabernacle, the use of incense, the veneration of the cross, the ceremony of light with fire and candles and special readings and seasonal hymns.  As we incorporate these things, it is important to realize that we are not re-enacting the historical events upon which our faith is grounded, but rather we are enabling ourselves through a fuller use of our senses to enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery.  The mystery we enter calls us to remember the events of the past when God delivered his people from oppression and slavery.  This mystery compels us to ponder what is now happening in our lives: to recognize the ways that God is leading us on a path of conversion and healing, deepening our faith and our personal relationship with God.  Through Lent, we have encountered temptation and some of our faults have been revealed to us.  Our lives have changed because God is leading us to a new way of life.  This “anamnesis” or remembering-in-a-special-way bolsters our hope and confidence in God’s loving plan of salvation for our future.  We know that we are never abandoned nor forgotten and we are always delivered and forgiven when we turn to God for help.  My prayer is that we all grow in holiness as we enter this special week in a new and deeper way.   God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter

The Power of Hope!

Peace and grace to you!

The readings this weekend are filled with power!  The power of hope!  Faith in God as the one who speaks the truth and the one who always fulfills what he promises assures our hope and trust that he will accomplish what he says.  This weekend we get a special glimpse of God’s plan—ultimately, our salvation.  Although we don’t know the details of our lives ahead of time, we do know that we must walk by faith and make sense of the events in our lives by using the lens cap of faith as we go.

The prophet Ezekiel makes a bold declaration that God will open our graves and we will rise from them, plus we will live with a share of God’s divine Spirit within us!  Paul’s vision of the Christian experience makes sense of sin coexisting with the Spirit of Christ in the human person.  He assures us that those who live with the Spirit of Jesus, even though they fall into sin, can rightfully hope in a resurrection of the body as a gift of God’s grace.  The power of the Holy Spirit cleanses us from sin through the Word of Christ.  This is manifested in the Gospel story when Jesus calls Lazarus forth from death to life.

Lazarus is a great image for all of us to ponder.  We know that at this event he is wrapped up, tied up, in the bands of sin, death and burial.  Obviously, he has succumbed to the power of nature and suffered death, which is the ultimate suffering for the human person.  He has also committed sins.  But the Word of Jesus cleanses him and compels him to rise to new life.  In the light of today’s readings, we also should pause to consider a couple of questions for ourselves.  What are the natural powers, sins, people or events that have bound you up in life?  How have you been hindered in life or closed into a place of darkness, loneliness, isolation, anger, fear or hopelessness?  We are all burdened in different ways to varying degrees.  More importantly and much greater than any of these burdens however, is the power to be set free of them by Jesus and his Word.  I pray that each of you experience some special freedom, liberation from sin, hindrance or death and walk in joy as children of light.  May God bless you! +++ Fr Peter