I don’t know about you, but it seems like just yesterday that we were entering the home stretch of the Lenten Season and celebrating the Sacred Paschal Triduum and Easter and here we are, now, in the final few weeks of the Easter Season. As I mentioned in a bulletin article a few weeks ago, the Easter Season is full of many celebrations – Baptisms, Confirmation, First Communion, May Crowning and, in just a couple of weeks, Graduation. At the end of the Easter Season we have two major celebrations – the first will be celebrated next weekend, the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven. The following weekend we will celebrate the end of the Easter Season with the celebration of Pentecost. In order to help direct our thoughts to these great mysteries I wanted to include a reflection from the great Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine on the Ascension. Perhaps over the coming days we can spend some time in meditating on these words and preparing ourselves spiritually for the Ascension. These words come from a homily of St. Augustine on the Ascension:
“Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth.
For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.
Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food.
Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.
He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.
These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God. So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body.
Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head.”
Holy Week begins this Sunday with our celebration of Palm Sunday. I would like to take a moment to invite all of our parishioners to participate as fully as possible in the celebrations that will mark Holy Week, the holiest week of the Church’s year. Mass on Holy Thursday is celebrated at 7:00 PM, which concludes with the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose in the Atrium. Everyone is invited to spend time in prayer “in the garden” with our Lord. The time of adoration will conclude with the praying of Night Prayer at 10:00 PM. Good Friday’s celebration of the Passion of Our Lord begins at 12:30 PM. Stations of the Cross will be prayed on Good Friday evening at 6:30 PM. On Holy Saturday we have the traditional Blessing of the Easter Food in the Atrium at 9:00 AM. The Easter Vigil will begin at 8:00 PM that night in the Atrium Gardens. Masses for Easter Day are celebrated at 7:30 AM, 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM.
Confessions will be heard during Holy Week on Monday morning at 9:00 AM and again on Tuesday afternoon at Noon. Please note that confessions will not be heard on Good Friday afternoon or evening, so please plan accordingly.
The Easter Season will bring with it a multitude of celebrations. The first that will take place is on Saturday, April 22nd when one of our own parishioners, Mr. William Arnold will be ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Jeffrey Haines at the Cathedral. He will be followed by another one of our parishioners, Mr. John LoCoco later on this year. The transitional diaconate is a step on the path to the priesthood. The soon-to-be Deacon Arnold will be with us on Sunday, April 23rd at the 11:00 Mass as we celebrate this important milestone in his life and in the life of the parish and of the Church.
On April 23rd we will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday with a Holy Hour with Adoration and Benediction beginning at 3:00 PM in the afternoon. Confessions will be heard as well during this hour. The celebrations will pick up again the following weekend when we will be privileged to have Bishop Jeffrey Haines with us to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation with our parish teens at 10:00 AM on Saturday, April 29th. Please note that because of this the 8:00 Saturday morning Mass will be celebrated as usual, but confessions will not be heard after the Mass in order to prepare the church for Confirmation. The following weekend we will celebrate First Communion, on Sunday, May 7th at 1:30 PM. Please pray for all those who will be celebrating the Easter Sacraments beginning at the Easter Vigil with our RCIA candidates and catechumen!
Saturday, May 13th marks the 100th Anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima. Because of the significance of this celebration our annual May Crowning will take place on that evening, Saturday, May 13th in conjunction with the evening Mass. May 13th will also see our first weddings of the year taking place – please be sure to keep in prayer all of those couples who will be married over the course of this coming year. Finally the Easter Season will also see the graduation of our 8th Graders from our parish school on Friday, June 2nd – please keep them in prayer as well as they prepare for the next step of their journey into adulthood.
There are so many graces available to us during this Holy Week and in the coming Easter Season, may the Lord in His mercy help us to receive them and seek them out!