First Down (April 1, 2018) – Easter Sunday

Dear Friends,

Happy Easter! There are so many great things that happen at Easter for many of us. Either spring has arrived or is just around the corner. People choose to enter the many houses of God to hear the message of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. People dress beautifully, gather for a wonderful meal and children can even enjoy the search for Easter eggs or candy. We are all reminded that this Sunday is not like other Sundays. With Easter Sunday, there is reason to really celebrate.

We welcome everyone this Easter Sunday. The crowds can be a little overwhelming for some people, as traffic, parking and seating can be a challenge. Yet, this is the Sunday where everyone can hear that God’s message of eternal life is really meant for all. God has created all humanity and it is His desire that all might come to know Him and, when people are somehow touched on such a special day, it is a good thing. God’s word is not contained in one church, one building, or one group of people. God’s message, when embraced by people, can be messy. So for today we make room, we welcome, we embrace, we patiently sit with a larger number knowing that this day pleases God, that His house is filled with all His people.

Many people understand that Easter is about life, life eternal, life that is renewed. We Christians know that Easter just doesn’t appear one day. It has been prepared for by the season of Lent. Before resurrection happens there is death, the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, the death of Christians dying to selfishness, sin and evil. If we only hear the message of Easter life, we miss the complete mystery.

The Church has powerful prayers at Mass that remind us that death will happen to all of us. These prayers are meant to comfort, give us hope and help us not to be afraid. Every time we gather for Mass, we ask God to “give kind admittance into your kingdom” to those who have left us. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, “and for those who have left this world in your friendship.” The mystery of Christianity is there is dying and rising. Resurrection does not happen until death happens. Death is the passageway to eternal life and the Church’s prayers at every Mass remind us that there is a connection between those who have left us and we who remain here.

A card with messages of hope, comfort and encouragement will be given to all who attend Easter Masses. On the card are prayers, quotes on eternal life, and resources regarding illness and the loss of loved ones. Sometime during this coming year we will encounter the death of loved ones, friends, or people with whom we cross paths. This card is meant to give guidance and bring hope, peace, and comfort to those who need to be reminded that Easter is celebrated every day in the life of God’s people. We hope this card can be helpful to many.

I personally encounter peace at every Mass with our ritual prayers, knowing that death is simply the path to eternal life. God invites us again this Easter to trust Him so that we can live with Him forever.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric