I just watched Pope Francis preside at the Easter Vigil at the Basilica
of St Peter. His homily on encountering Jesus and finding our own
Galilee was beautiful. Now, I am about to depart for the Easter Vigil at my parish in Chesapeake, Virginia. I
will greet the elect who nervously - but excitedly- await the reception
of the Easter Sacraments. The miracles which have occurred in their
lives throughout this period of instruction remind me that we are living
in a new missionary age of the Church. The same Holy Spirit
which raised Jesus from the dead is at work in the Church, which He
founded and over which He presides. We need not be afraid of anything
which is occurring in our time.
Jesus Christ is Lord! He is present with us and has given us the Holy Spirit. He has triumphed over sin, evil and death itself!
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - I just watched Pope Francis preside at the Easter Vigil at the Basilica of St Peter. His homily on encountering Jesus and finding our own Galilee was beautiful.
Now, I am about to depart for the Easter Vigil at my parish in Chesapeake, Virginia.
I will greet the elect who await the reception of the Easter Sacraments. We have a very large group this year. The miracles which have occurred in their lives throughout this period of instruction regularly remind me that we are living in a new missionary age of the Church.
The same Holy Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead is at work in the Church, which He founded and over which He presides. We need not be afraid of anything which is occurring in our time.
Jesus Christ is Lord!
He is present with us and has given us the Holy Spirit. He has triumphed over sin, evil and death itself!
At the Easter Vigil, the new flame will be lit. I will join the millions of deacons around the world who will carry carry the Paschal candle into the dark sanctuary proclaiming The Light of Christ.
Candle by candle, the light of the Resurrection illuminates the world around us as He who is the Light of the World fills it with His radiance.
We sing that ancient hymn of the Church which captures the depth of the mystery we celebrate on Easter, the Exultet, Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven. Exult, let Angel ministers of God exult. Let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty Kings triumph! Be glad let earth be glad as glory floods her.
Ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness. Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice, arrayed with the lightning of His glory, let this Holy Building shake with joy, filled with the mighty voices of the peoples! T
he words to this ancient hymn offer deep insights from the early Church into the meaning of the Paschal mystery.
The Vigil Liturgy readings walk us through the Old Testament into the New Testament - unfolding the great plan of a loving God who did not leave us in sin but sent His only Son into the world to save us and set us free from the chains of sin and the ravages of death!
He still sends His Son, through the Church, His Body, of which we are members. We live in the Church and go into the world in order to bring all men and women home to the Church. The redemptive mission of the Lord Jesus Christ continues.
This world which God created in love, through the Word, is now re-created from within - through the Incarnation- the Saving Life, Death and Resurrection, of that Word made Flesh. Jesus Christ is Lord.
The One whom the Scriptures proclaim as the first born has burst forth from the tomb to begin the New Creation.
Throughout the world, the elect, those prepared through catechesis (instruction in the faith) for Baptism and the Easter sacraments, are Baptized, Confirmed and receive the Holy Eucharist; the three Sacraments of initiation.
In many places, the Candidates, Christians of other communities, whose Baptism the Holy Catholic Church recognizes, prepared for the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist, are incorporated into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
We are all joined in the Risen Body of the One who conquers death and bathes the world in light!. The event calls all who are present to renew their own baptism and give themselves afresh to the Lord Jesus Christ in an evangelical encounter.
The palpable joy of Easter floods Christians with the eyes of living faith, as we witness the power of God, sacramentally mediated, through those saving waters of Baptism, the Oil of Chrism and the reception of the most Holy Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
Tears flow like a river. The cold hearts of many of the faithful are set ablaze again by the great Easter Flame.
In parishes around the world millions of adults are being baptized. As they came out of those saving waters the entire Church erupts with Easter joy. As our priests and Bishops confirm them, pouring the Sacred Chrism on their Head - we are all reminded of the utter beauty and treasure of the Christian faith!
Along with them, others who have come into the full communion of the Church from other Christian communities - are given to us as a gift for the new missionary work to which we are called in this age which has forgotten God.
However, we must remember, these may be difficult times, but they are our times. We were born, and are being born again, for these times.
The utter wonder of the celebration of the Easter mysteries can open heaven and makes the deeper meaning of life become so clear. If they are received with living faith.
I am profoundly moved every year by the beauty of the ancient yet ever new Catholic faith as it is expressed in its Liturgical fullness during the Easter Liturgy. We offer to those newly baptized and/or confirmed the Holy Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus for the first time.
As the Director of Adult Faith Formation at my parish, I have watched and witnessed the power of the Gospel and the teaching of the Holy Church change lives. I have the privilege of helping people yield their lives to the Risen Lord and experience the truth which they will now affirm at the Easter Vigil.
They are ready! They know that Jesus Christ is not dead. Do we?
He has been raised from the dead and lives among us now in the heart of the Church. He walks among us now in His Body, the Church, and gives Himself in love for the sake of the world.
Nothing can separate us from that Love incarnated in the Crucified, Risen Son of the True and Living God. The light floods the once dark cave and fills the entire world with hope. The debt has been paid, the last enemy death has been defeated, hell itself has been conquered.
The captives have been liberated, Love has triumphed and heavens gates have been opened wide. He is Alive and all those who stand at the Altar of the Cross, and the light of the empty tomb, believing in His promise, shall live forever in Him, beginning now.
With the Mass of Easter day we begin the Octave, eight days of feasting on the readings which Holy Mother Church sets out on the table of the Ambo and receiving the Risen One in the most Holy Eucharist, becoming what we consume.
We hear the marvelous post Resurrection accounts and follow the extraordinary change which occurred in the early Apostles as the power of this Resurrection fashioned them into a living witness for the faith.
We celebrate Easter for fifty days until we celebrate the next great Feast, the Feast of Pentecost. Alleluias will permeate our worship - and they are meant to inform our lives. That is because, in the words of the great western Church Bishop, Augustine, "we are an Easter people and alleluia is our song."
Everything is different because that Tomb is empty. We are different because we have been raised up with Jesus Christ. We have been made capable, by grace, through faith in the power of the Resurrection, to begin living our lives in a new way - RIGHT NOW!
Have you have heard the old adage, used often in a disparaging way, "He´s so heavenly he is no earthly good." I suggest again that it misses the mark completely.
We are called to be so heavenly- to live our lives so attractively - that we bring Goodness Himself to the earth and move the earth toward its eternal recreation in Him.
Easter is more than a day; it is a way of living our lives now in Jesus Christ, and with one another, for the sake of the world.
Because He has been raised, heaven has come to earth and earth can now come to heaven.
Because He has been raised, the new creation has already begun. The seed of the kingdom is manifested in the Church which is His Risen Body, the sign of the new heaven and new earth.
His Church is the Holy Place of Habitation where all men and women are called to be set free from the Law of sin and death, live and graze, being fed on His Word and nourished on His Body and Blood, healed by His Oil of Mercy and prepared for eternity.
As we follow Peter and John, whose story we hear proclaimed in our Gospel lesson for Easter Sunday, we witness the power of the Resurrection at work in the lives of ordinary men and women who become extraordinary by living their lives in Him.
No longer afraid, these witnesses of the Resurrection, in the words of the Acts of the Apostles, "turn the world upside down with their preaching."
They became so configured to the Lord that they lived and died like Him, for the sake of the world which is being re-born now, because he has been raised.
So too, we can turn our own world upside down, right now, today, because the Resurrection makes all things new, beginning now!
The implications of the Resurrection unfolded for them as they reflected on His saving life and death and yielded to the work of the Holy Spirit in their own lives.
So it must for you and me, as we come to realize that Easter is more than a day, it is a way. Time became for them a tutor, no longer a tyrant. They learned its lessons at the school of faith.
Because the sting of death, sin, had been defeated, death was no longer to be feared but became for them a portal into eternal life and communion with the One who has been raised.
So it is meant to be for each of us who now bear His Name. We are witnesses to the same Resurrection.
Time now invites us into a field of choice where we can progress in freedom and become configured to Jesus Christ, every day of our lives. The key is encountering Jesus.
He awaits us, daily. The Victorious One whose Holy Resurrection we are celebrating, has taken up residence within us and wants to live in us as we learn to live in Him.
Easter is more than a Day, it is a Way; A Way of living our lives differently now in Him because we have been set free. We are invited to do that by living them daily in His Church.
The Church is His Body. The Church is the new world, in the course of transfiguration. That world created through Him out of love but which was lost due to sin, is now being made new! His tomb is empty.
He came among us and began creation anew. That is why we celebrate. Death has been defeated by His Saving Death. In His Resurrection, we now live no more to die.
Darkness has been scattered by the Light which breaks forth from that empty tomb and is meant to infuse our daily lives with the radiance of Resurrected love.
Live the Easter Way! The Same Holy Spirit which Transformed the Early Church Can Transform Us! Let it happen and watch what the Risen Lord can do in you and through you.
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