My brothers and sisters in Christ, He is risen; indeed he is risen!
I greet you with great hope this Easter, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. We have journeyed in prayer through the penitential season of Lent contemplating the sacrifices of Christ that bring us to new life. Now, we will celebrate Easter for seven weeks until the feast of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Lent has been very difficult for me spiritually, but I believe we are on the verge of great spiritual blessings. The sufferings of our “Good Fridays” are necessary before we can experience the joy of our personal “Easter”. Our “Good Fridays” are our sufferings, our doubts, our struggles or dryness in our spiritual life. Our personal “Easter” is the joy we receive when coming out of darkness into a deeper relationship with Christ. Our spiritual lives follow the pattern of Lent to Good Friday to the joy of Easter. Our need for a sacrificial “suffering servant” required that Jesus journey from the joy of his triumphal entry on Palm Sunday to his suffering and death on Good Friday. Without Good Friday there could be no Easter resurrection.
It is a paradox of Christian life that through suffering we come into joy and new life. The Church is under attack as we see on TV and read in internet blogs. Despite this darkness new Catholics received Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation at the Easter Vigil. That is only a part of the work of the Holy Spirit that is taking place. For the past several months, every weekend I have heard the tearful confessions of Catholics returning to confession after many years. With great joy I have seen their tears as they receive Holy Communion. Couples are coming with the desire to receive Holy Matrimony. At the Spanish Mass on Palm Sunday there were over 500 people and we had wonderful participation in Eucharistic Adoration during the “24 hours for the Lord” in Forks and Aberdeen. That was a work of the Holy Spirit, as we only had a few days to organize this day of confessions, contemplation and adoration. To my joy it went well.
I see these acts of worship and conversion as signs of a spiritual spring time in our parishes. In nature we see buds and blossoms on trees along with tulips and spring flowers coming to life. In the Church we see the conversion of souls in those coming to confession, participating in Religious Education and Faith Formation activities and seeking Baptism or Holy Matrimony. In my life great spiritual growth follows after a difficult “dark night of the soul”. I have offered up my prayers, my struggles and my concerns for the conversion of our parishes to Christ crucified in faith that the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit will change our lives just as the Holy Spirit is able to change simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
Let us be an “anointing people” using our Easter joy to live the Gospel. What does it mean to be an anointing people? We receive grace in Baptism, Holy Communion and Confirmation to live as Christians in joy and in sorrow. To be filled with grace is to be “anointed” and this joy moves us to love generously. To be an “anointing people” is to imitate what parents do in blessing and praying for their children. Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist makes us one Christian community. Allow the Resurrection of Christ to fill you with overflowing love. Happy Easter!
Your Servant in Christ, Father Paul