Making A Memory
I had a great Easter last Sunday! As pastor, I am very proud of Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parish.
On Easter Sunday I enjoyed meeting and greeting the folks at all the Masses that came through our church doors to pray and celebrate with us. I noticed that our visitors were family and friends from our local neighborhood and some who even flew in from places like Texas, Florida and Massachusetts. Those who were with us for the first time really noticed a strong spirit of warmth and hospitality. Their first impression was very positive and they wanted to come back again and pray with us. Thank you for extending your generosity and kindness to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
When I celebrated Mass on Easter Sunday I had one of those grace filled “A-HA” moments. It’s when the Holy Spirit gives you “spiritual goose bumps” on your soul. From the altar I looked out over the pews packed with people. In the back of my mind I said to myself, “This is our Church at its best!”
In the front pews I saw the faces of those who probably heard the Easter story 60 or 70 times before. Their “alleluias” never go faint and the good news never gets old. There would have to be 20 inches of snow for them to miss Mass on Sunday. I consider them “Marines” of the Catholic Church and I always feel holier in their presence.
On Easter Sunday, in the back of church I saw a naturally formed nursery of infants being held by their proud parents. I admired the cute young girls, that I baptized just several months ago, wearing pink Easter bonnets and bows. After Mass I told a mother with three young girls that I have plenty of job security.
In the middle of church I saw the faces of young adults who were recently married at our church. I was impressed that the newlyweds invited their parents to join them for Easter. I sensed that our parish has become a sacred place and spiritual home for them.
By the choir, I saw Anneleise, who was just received into the Catholic church at the Easter Vigil, humbly playing the violin. It reminded me how vibrant a parish becomes when we share our faith, gifts and talents. I felt blessed to celebrate Mass surrounded by the sounds of sacred music and the smell of fresh Easter lilies.
Thank you to all who worked so hard to make our Holy Week celebrations a meaningful and beautiful experience for our parishioners. It was a joy to pray and celebrate with you.
What I will remember most about this Easter is how the Risen Lord reaches out to all of us. God’s love knows no boundaries. The Holy Spirit flows freely into the hearts of all. How awesome!
The Easter season will joyfully continue for 50 days. It concludes with the feast of Pentecost. There are a lot more “Alleluias” to sing!
Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist
At the Easter Vigil we celebrated the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion for the adults in our RCIA (the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program. Pictured below are Teaqua Henderson and Gar Pang who were baptized. Lisa Casolino and Anneleise Gegenheimer, who were baptized in another Christian denomination, made a Profession of Faith, expressing their willingness to join the Catholic Church. Amanda Groves, who was baptized Catholic, received the Sacrament of Confirmation with the other candidates. We welcome Gar, Teaqua, Lisa, Anneleise, and Amanda to our community of faith, and we are privileged to journey with them.
Works of Mercy
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy we had highlighted our Catholic tradition called the “corporal and spiritual works of mercy.”
Listing the 14 works of mercy is easy; yet appreciating their breadth takes time. The corporal works of mercy are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, and bury the dead. Where do these come from? Six derive from the Final Judgment teaching in Matthew’s gospel, found in chapter 25. We recall the famous line, “What you do for the least of these, you do for me.” The seventh corporal work of mercy is grounded in traditional Hebrew respect for the body.
The spiritual works of mercy are: convert the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive all injuries, and pray for the living and the dead. These teachings are gathered from the New Testament and 2 Maccabees in Hebrew scripture. This eclectic list was complied later than the first to balance the temporal (worldly) and spiritual obligations we owe each other.
On this Sunday, dedicated to Divine Mercy, which one can we embrace? All can bring us closer to God’s love.