This Easter season, its definite and deep meaning will be unveiled to us at the Lord’s perfect time and in such a simple way as all HIS teachings are.
As we continue to work our way through the thoughts, sentiments and teachings left behind by 2020, I, like most of you, find myself at times re-imagining how my world, my family, my relationships and my Catholic Community here at St. Patrick and throughout the Diocese will look like from the rearview mirror of a post-pandemic era – What have we learned?
What did Jesus mean by saying: “God doesn’t call the equipped but rather equips the chosen”.
I believe that by and large we were not equipped to live through this time; however, I’m certain that we were chosen for it so that we may reevaluate what’s truly important and what is just dead weight.
In his 2014 Easter address, Pope Francis said:
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead? How often do we look for life among dead things, things that cannot give life, that are here today and gone tomorrow? Why do you seek the living one among the dead?”
We need [these words] when we close ourselves within many forms of selfishness or self-complacency; when we allow ourselves to be seduced by the earthly powers and the things of this world, forgetting God and neighbor; when we place our trust in worldly vanities, in money, in success.
Then the Word of God tells us: “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?” Why are you looking there? It can’t give you life. It will give you joy for a day, a week, a month, a year – and then? Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
Maybe this time… this monumental time in our Church is God’s invitation to respond with Stewardship gratitude. What if we seize every moment throughout our day to respond to God in gratitude, compassion and eagerness.
Respond with living actions for what matters the most and discard those which are in essence “Dead”.
Let us celebrate this glorious day with prayer and feasting, for Christ is risen! Happy Easter!
– Fernando Gomez
“In the Resurrection of Jesus we find the hope of eternal life.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Last year was an Easter like no other, celebrated at home. In our desire to cling to tradition, we dressed up, wanting to give Christ our best. We viewed Mass on TV which we took the time to decorate with candles and flowers, hiding the PlayStation and Nintendo Switch below. No matter the effort it seemed so surreal to be celebrating Mass on our couch. We pushed through, knowing that the resurrection was bigger than even a global pandemic. Now a year later, we again encounter the risen Christ. Though the pandemic is far from over, we no longer live in the chaos of 2020, wondering where to get toilet paper or if a vaccine will be created.
As I prepared to celebrate Easter this year, more than reflecting on our pandemic Easter, I am reminded of 1994. Pope John Paul II courageously proclaimed, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” It is easy in 2021 to succumb to despair. In fact, watch the news on any given evening and regardless as to your political bent, you can probably find real reason to lean deep into despair, fear, sadness. Sometimes it feels overwhelming. But we are Easter people. Our story does not end with Good Friday, but instead with a God that conquers death and offers new life. It is with this conviction that I will commit myself to living Easter in my own life like never before. In the forty days leading up to Easter, I fasted and prayed. In these fifty days of Easter, I will live Easter indeed and prayer as well. I will take time in sacred scripture to journey with the early Christians as they walked through the uncertainty of the time after Jesus’s resurrection. I will pray joyfully for the many gifts in my life. I will engage with others who are different from me, free from any personal agenda, seeking only to understand. I will make certain that this Easter, it is easy to see that Hallelujah is in fact my song.
– Sharon Fabyanic
So this has been my first year coordinating the High School Life Teen program and I can tell you we have had a lot of ups and downs. From switching locations, to not knowing when we would be able to gather again in person safely, to being flexible and adjusting as we went. Along this journey I have been thoroughly impressed by the high school leadership team within our program. This group of high school seniors has kept such a positive attitude throughout, which in turn spread around to the whole program/community. I can only imagine what it would be like to go through this pandemic as a high school student and have the feeling that I was missing out on some of the major staples that make up the high school experience. I don’t know about you, but this past year was certainly different than any other I have ever experienced. But we didn’t just stand still and do nothing. We were tasked with reimagining.
As leaders (we all are) we are faced with life’s varying circumstances and sometimes those circumstances are more difficult than others. Over this past year I have become more aware that we have the capacity to make a decision in our own heart to allow God to transform and use this moment as one of resurrecting new life. This is what I have witnessed within the Life Teen program this past year. A resurrection into new life, a reimagining of what community is and can be, and a newly appreciated gratitude for the small things that are often overlooked.
Pope Francis recently released a book entitled “Let Us Dream,” in which he shares his thoughts around the pandemic and the state of the world. In it he shares his hope to not simply return to the way things were pre-covid but rather to learn from these experiences and move forward together as a better people. So in the words of Francis, “Let us Dream.”
– Jacob DeRusha
“Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” From the basketball movie Coach Carter
If any of us are just sitting on the sidelines of life waiting for the world to change on its own, then chances are the coach may not be putting us in the game. As an athlete ages, it takes extra focus and effort to fine tune their skills. Some say they become even more focused on honing their abilities to share their talents with the world who see them. The world around them keeps moving and they need to grasp the opportunities when they have the chance.
Leading up to Easter, many of us looked to transform a piece of our lives or make a change that signifies a form of spiritual or inner growth. Are we honing our skills in serving the greater community to bring new life to those who feel like they are outcast and always on the sidelines? Now is the opportunity to share your talents with others.
God is calling us all into the community game. And the best part… there are no limitations to the amount of players allowed on the field of social ministry. Jesus has risen. Rise and re-imagine how you can manifest your skills towards the playing field in the area of Social Justice and Outreach! Happy Easter to all of you!
– Richard DiCarlo
Wow, your kid is amazing!!… and your new job is amazing…and your house is amazing… And you are amazing! All of us, hopefully, have had times when people have complimented us or our family or our home in some way. And that, although probably rare, is a great and awesome feeling!
When I help people plan funerals here at the parish, I often recommend songs for people to use. I will mention Be Not Afraid, or On Eagles Wings. But often when I mention Amazing Grace, people will say, “Oh, that one for sure.” It made me reflect the other day if I truly understand that God’s Grace is AMAZING! Do I allow myself to be comforted and given hope by the gift of that grace for me? That as we heard the scripture during the Lenten cycle, that God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die, but have eternal life. That all we have to do is believe in Jesus and we are offered eternal life as a gift, and that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. This Amazing grace is a gift that we cannot earn. It is free. It matters not how often, or how long, or how hard we pray or how we try to get God to love us, it will never be enough, because no matter what we do or say, God has already loved us unconditionally and completely, just because we are His.
My prayer for us (and for me) this Easter, is that we may allow ourselves to say yes to the gift of Grace that God offers us and that it may change our hearts to live in a way that says to the world… I Believe in God’s love and care for me and in His AMAZING GRACE. I hope that will bring us all a new Easter Joy.
– Paul Hillebrand
I know we’re encouraged to focus on prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent, but what’s usually on my mind is…. Fish Fry! This year I had to ask: Could we do it? Should we? How can we do it safely? I really wanted to say, “yes!” but I knew it wasn’t just my “yes” that was necessary, but I needed a whole group of people that could help me reimagine this Lenten tradition and bring it to life in a new way.
And did I ever get that! From brainstorming the best ways to flow a drive-thru in our parking lot, to donating lemons from their trees, dishing coleslaw and tartar sauce into to-go containers, directing traffic, running tickets to the kitchen and food to cars, and reorganizing our kitchen to accommodate a new way of doing things… everyone who responded did so with the attitude: “It’s not going to be the way we were used to, but let’s figure out a new way to make it work!”
The whole experience was incredibly inspiring and reminds me of the story of Simon Peter and the disciples who were out fishing after Jesus’ resurrection. They weren’t catching anything and a man on the shore told them to try casting their net on the other side of the boat. They complied and the net became filled with so many fish that they were barely able to pull it in! Suddenly, they were able to recognize this man as Jesus!
My experience during Lent is helping me to view the pandemic through the lens of this story. Our lives have changed. They might even feel like they’re at a standstill. We might feel discouraged, disappointed, or even lost. So, we can keep throwing our nets out the same way we always have, hoping something will eventually change… OR… we can recognize Jesus in it all and hear his call: “Why not try something new? See what happens?”
If Lent is a season of reflection, Easter celebrates new life! During Lent… or the pandemic… where was God asking you to cast your net out on a different side of the boat? Is there something he’s still asking you to rethink or reimagine? Let’s make this Easter a season of responding to his call, recognizing where he wants us to learn, to grow, or to challenge ourselves to bring something new to life.
– Megan Popa
My most memorable (powerful) Easter was in 1985, 36 years ago. It was then that the year-long process of exploring the Catholic faith came to fruition as I made my profession of faith and my youngest son Christopher, was baptized at the Easter Vigil. I was attending St. Joseph’s on 40th Street and Fr. John Cullinan was pastor. Fr. Vernon Meyer and Deacon John Meyer were also there. You are probably wondering what made it so memorable…I caught a glimpse of the power, mercy and love of God. It is true what they say, that sacraments are celebrations of lived experiences.
Over the year of exploration in the RCIA, I had to take a good look at me, what faith/Catholicism was offering and then had to make a decision as to whether I was ready to believe and walk as a Catholic. Conversion doesn’t happen overnight and I needed every day of the process. It was a very emotional celebration as I could relate to the symbols of fire, the burning inside of me as I struggled with some things like confession and true presence and then came to understand and experience God’s unconditional love through both. Light that came from candles that dispelled the darkness in the church and the continued search for God’s light in my day. The water…how powerful…it gives life and it takes it away. I renewed my baptismal promises knowing that my baptism will bring me life and death as well. The Word of God, always there to point me in the right direction and help me see I was not alone. And then the bread and wine, common food that sustains and supports my life each day. Without food I will perish figuratively and literally. I have never missed an Easter Vigil since, except last year when COVID hit.
This year will be another powerful Easter for me. It has been a rough year with COVID and losing my youngest son in July. Christopher and I shared a powerful Easter 36 years ago and we share another one this year. This year has also been a year of exploration and lots of questions. They may be different questions, but just as powerful…why were we hit with the pandemic, why did so many people die, why is there so much unrest, why did Christopher have to die, is there eternal life?
The symbols of fire, light, the Word, water, bread and wine and the cross have become my connection to the God I have come to know as compassionate, merciful, patient, and loving. Without the struggles I am not sure this would be another powerful Easter. The cross is not the end of the story. May we all recognize and embrace the power of Easter through our struggles. Because of them, not in spite of them, I can say “Amen” I do believe.
– Mary Permoda
New life begins! We made it through the passion, through death, darkness, pain, and struggle. Now, we celebrate LIFE. Easter is both the end of one story and the beginning of another. Through Jesus’ victory, we have victory.
There are obvious parallels we can draw from Lent to Easter and what we have experienced globally this year during the pandemic… but… let’s talk baseball instead!
I have always loved the Easter Season for many reasons, one of which is simple and a little silly… It coincides with the start of the regular baseball season! I am a huge D’Backs fan. Opening day is a holiday in our house and, since the creation of the Diamondbacks, I have been to every home opener. This tradition started with my dad and me and continues now with my children. In this simple tradition, we celebrate Easter joy, we celebrate life. I am still not sure if we’ll be able to make it in person to the game this year (limited attendance and all), but, we will be watching as a family.
Traditions are important, even the simple, silly ones. From the annual liturgical seasons that walk us through a year, to anniversaries, birthdays, date nights, and opening days, the way we celebrate moments in our lives should be a reminder of the gift of LIFE. They are resurrection moments in day to day living.
The resurrection continues in us and is a reminder to us, and through us, that in our own passions, deaths, pain and sufferings, Christ has won. The next story begins in us. The next season begins. “This is the day that the Lord has made,” so let us carry this Easter joy with us in our hearts always. Celebrate the moments, big and small, that remind us of LIFE. Carry Easter through our daily passions and deaths, knowing that the victory is won, the resurrection has happened, the grave is overwhelmed, and we will rise, because Christ is risen! Alleluia! (What else is there to say at Easter… well… except maybe, “Play ball!”)
Join together with Torri Winn as she leads the Rosary. For this time of prayer we will use the “Scriptural Rosary” form. Thank you for praying with us. Use each of the four players below to pray along with a different mystery.
Extended Love: Migration and the Church
Fr. Eric wishes to share with everyone this resource guide. “Extended Love: Migration and the Church” is a quick reference resource to help everyone reflect on Church teachings, scripture, and quotes regarding the issue of migration and how the Church is called to respond.
Click here to download the resource.
If you would like to dive further into this topic, you are invited to join VIP (Valley Interfaith Project) and us as we co-host a Civic Academy on the topic, Wednesday, January 16. Click here to download the flyer.
Click here to visit a webpage with all the information we currently have on our Matthew 25 Project which is the way we are answering the call to Welcome the Stranger.