The weather has finally turned towards spring! I usually love winter, but even for myself this winter was getting a bit long! The joy of hearing the snow melt, the sun shining and temperatures warming up to where one can tentatively open some windows is one of the joys of spring! Another of the joys of spring is the celebration of Easter and the various celebrations which unfold during this Easter Season. This Easter Season there is much here at St. Mary’s to celebrate and I’d like to remind you of a few of them.
Last weekend we celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation – we were privileged to have Archbishop Listecki here to celebrate this sacrament with our teenagers who prepared over the course of this year for this powerful advent of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It was a joy for them and for their families. Also, last weekend I announced at all the Masses that Fr. John Gibson, currently Associate Pastor at St. Dominic’s Parish in Brookfield, has been assigned as part-time Associate Pastor here at St. Mary’s and part-time Chaplain at Catholic Memorial High School. We will officially welcome him in June and we will be hearing directly from him in the coming weeks as he begins to introduce himself to the parish community. I am sure we will all be grateful for the ministry he will exercise here. We also continue to be grateful for the ministry that Fr. Dave Filut has exercised amongst us for nearly eight years and will continue to exercise here in the future. Please join us on May 6th following the 9:00 AM Mass to celebrate Fr. Dave’s 50th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood and to thank him for all the help and assistance he has given to our parish.
That same weekend, albeit later in the afternoon, our First Communicants will celebrate their First Communion at a special Mass at 1:30 in the afternoon. Please pray for these children as they prepare to receive Christ present in the Eucharist for the first time. It is a joy as a pastor to be able to celebrate this with the children and to have the privilege of giving them their First Communion! Join us later that week on the evening of May 10th for our annual May Crowning, our annual celebration to honor our patron, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth. This is also an important tradition for our 2nd Graders and 8th Graders and everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.
We also have the great joy of celebrating the ordination of two of our parish sons, Deacon William Arnold and Deacon John LoCoco, to the priesthood on May 19th. This will be a joyful occasion for them and for their families and for the entire parish. I am not sure how long it has been - but probably decades - since two men from the same parish were ordained to the priesthood the same year. Deacon Arnold will celebrate his First Mass at the 5:00 PM Mass on Saturday, May 19th; Deacon LoCoco will celebrate his First Mass at the 11:00 AM Mass on Sunday, May 20th. Join us after each of those Masses for a celebration in the Atrium and an opportunity to receive their first blessings.
I find myself, more and more, giving thanks to God for all the blessings He bestows on this parish, He has been so good to us and it’s easy when we live in the midst of it to not recognize it for what it is, or to take it for granted. God has been very, very good to St. Mary’s – and I hope and pray that we will respond to His goodness by following Him with love and obedience and doing His will with joyful hearts.
My dear brothers and sisters, it is with great joy that we celebrate once again the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ! Alleluia! As we have journeyed to the Cross over the Lenten Season we can now glory in the victory won upon it over the course of the Easter Season. Here are some words from a homily by St. Ephrem the Deacon, a Doctor of the Church who lived in the 4th Century:
“Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but he in his turn treated death as a highroad for his own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means he would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying his cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross he summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.
Death slew him by means of the body which he had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which he conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of his manhood, the godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.
Death could not devour our Lord unless he possessed a body, neither could hell swallow him up unless he bore our flesh; and so he came in search of a chariot in which to ride to the underworld. This chariot was the body which he received from the Virgin; in it he invaded death’s fortress, broke open its strongroom and scattered all its treasure.
He who was also the carpenter’s glorious son set up his cross above death’s all-consuming jaws and led the human race into the dwelling place of life Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted on, the shoot in which we are meant to recognize the Lord whom no creature can resist.
We give glory to you, Lord, who raised by your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmer sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.
Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before him who offered his cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.”
A blessed and joyful Easter to all of you and your families!