Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish,
Alleluia! Christ has risen!
Tonight, as we begin our Easter Vigil at 8:30 PM with the lighting of the Easter fire, we recognize the Light that cannot be hidden or extinguished, our Lord, Jesus Christ. His death frees us from our sins, as only he could sacrifice himself on our behalf. His Resurrection frees us from the grave, for death is no longer the end, but the entrance into life eternal.
Now, no matter how dark the night gets, no matter how much we are tempted to worry, no matter how the world, the flesh, and the devil try to test our faith, there is a light to follow. We see by faith what Christ's disciples saw in person. The Son of God who was hung on the cross as a criminal and laid in a tomb was nowhere to be found on Easter morning. The stone was rolled back and the tomb was empty. Later, Jesus revealed himself to those who knew him, that they may see he is just as real in his Resurrection as he was nailed to the cross. They saw and believed that we, too, may now believe. They saw the Light of that first Easter, and today we find that Light's illumination, warmth, and life. Alleluia!
I've been overjoyed to see the number of people who came out for the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday and the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday! It was such a blessing to hear the church filled with song once more.
We're all created by God out of love. He forms us in his image, and this intimate union with our Divine Creator leaves a lasting longing in our souls. Of this, St. Augustine says, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." The devotion I've witnessed this Lent - the large number of Confessions Fr. Bresnahan and I have been hearing, the increased attendance at Sunday and weekday Masses, the men and women making time to pray before our Eucharistic Lord in Adoration, and the number of people coming out to pray the Stations of the Cross - show just how much we are longing to worship the Lord, and how that worship unites us in Christ.
The Paschal Mystery, which is the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the central mystery of our faith. The Holy Triduum - that liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil - replay this mystery before us. We are drawn into the suffering and death of Christ, who laid down his life as a sacrifice for our sins. This outpouring of love for us stirs in us the love that we have for God and our desire for conversion. Then, as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord today, we rejoice that God, in whose love is our perfect fulfillment, has defeated even death itself, and brought our humanity into the eternity of his divinity. Now, we have hope in freedom and fulfillment even amidst the struggles and crosses of this world. Now, we see the treasures and trials of this world as a means to our eternal joy, and not an end in themselves. Now, we can turn our eyes towards heaven with the faith that knows that the God we are made for has opened the gates of his heavenly kingdom, where he prepares a place for his faithful.
Please take some time this Easter to reflect on this mystery of God's endless love and infinite power. How he creates us for glory and then offers us the means of that glory not through the things of the world, but through gifts that are made available to all through his mercy and grace. Fulfillment and peace are possible to all who desire it through Jesus Christ. Easter is a time to reflect on how we can find our peace and fulfillment in the promises of Jesus Christ - the Way, the Truth, and the Life - and the new life that starts with our offering more of ourselves to him and to the life he calls us to.
I thank Mark Sobczynski for all that he has done to make this Holy Week run so smoothly. He has acted both as a sacristan and a liturgical master of ceremonies all week, and he has been responsible for the decorating of the altar as well. I cannot thank him enough. I also thank Bill Miller and Patty Laing for providing the music for our liturgies this week. It is gratifying to once more hear the sound of many voices raised in song to the Lord. Finally, I thank all of the volunteers who helped decorate the sanctuary so beautifully this Easter. It is a delight to behold!
My prayer is that the preparation of Lent, the sorrow of Good Friday, and the celebration of the Resurrection sets our hearts afire this Easter, and renews our parish, both those who join us in the Church and those who participate at home. May we go forth from this Easter aflame with the love of God and neighbor, and filled with hope in Jesus Christ, in this life and the next.
Fr. Breshanan and I will be visiting with our families for Easter dinner, and I hope that all of you can spend time with friends and loved ones. The parish office will be closed on Easter Monday and the parish school will be closed all week. Adoration will still take place from Monday through Friday at the regular hours.
Happy Easter to all! Christ has freed us from the power of sin and death! Let us rejoice and give Him praise!
Be assured of my prayers for all of you, and humbly ask for your prayers for Fr. Bresnahan and me. God bless you all in this sacred season of Easter!