On Easter Sunday morning churches fill with people to celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. People have come to church in their Easter finery and with a light step to show their joy and excitement. Spring is certainly in the air and often the sunshine is radiant in its warmth and brightness. The organist pulls out all the tops to fill the church with triumphant sounds to honor the risen Lord. Sometimes trumpet fanfares accompany the congregation’s voices which are raised in that magnificent hymn Christ the Lord is risen today or Jesus Christ is risen today. Hearts soar and joy fills the souls of the faithful who rejoice in Christ’s victory over sin and death. The rest of the day is usually spent in celebrating the wonder of the day visiting family and friends.
But then comes the morning after. The emotional charge of Easter Sunday has left our hearts. Our soul, which had soared upward into the heavens on the wings of the truth of the resurrection is brought earthward and burdened with the cares of the day. Our minds exchange meditations on the glories of Christ for a list of errands and groceries, for the realities of the workday, for making the morning train to get downtown on time or for the interstate which is as crowded as ever with drivers who are as crazy as they were during Holy Week and before. Our worldly cares can push any thoughts of Christ’s resurrection out of our minds. We might even look back at the tomb and tend to see the stone covering the opening as we go back to our old lives, going about business as though Christ was lying cold, still and dead inside the sepulcher.
God knew how difficult it would be for our finite minds to apprehend the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. He even sent an angel to the tomb to redirect the women’s thoughts from doubt and pain to faith and joy: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen” (Lk 24:5-6). God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Christ took on a human body and sin and death, and has now ended in triumph over the grave.
Jesus no longer occupies a tomb. Just as he appeared to his disciples in his glorified risen body, so he continues to exhort and encourage the faithful through the Holy Spirit. When we gather on Sunday in church for worship, all are testifying to the world that Jesus Christ is alive. His living body, the Church, is in the world as a witness to God’s miraculous work in Jesus Christ. By the living Spirit the Church is empowered to declare the truth of Christ’s resurrection.
God has raised Jesus from the dead. And through Christ’s death and resurrection, God raised up his Church to witness to the Almighty power of God and to testify that “the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk 24:46-47).
This is why we read from the Acts of the Apostles throughout the Easter Season. Acts is not meant primarily to be a history book as many of us have when we take a course on American or European History in college. It’s not meant to be a complete enumeration of all that happened through the power of the Spirit in those early days after Pentecost, but it does let us know how the Apostles and the early converts took seriously how they were to live what they had heard, namely, to bring the message of Jesus “to all the nations.” When we hear of the exploits of these men and women, hopefully we ask ourselves, “How am I called to put this message into practice in our own day and in the circumstances and situations I find myself in on a daily basis? Precisely how can I do my part to witness to the risen Christ today, tomorrow, and every day of the rest of my life?”
We don’t always comprehend all this in one day. That’s why the Easter Season runs for fifty days and nourishes our spirit slowly but surely throughout this time. So Easter is not just a one-day affair; it is a lifetime, which unfolds each year through our great Easter celebration and the season that follows. So let’s not miss the opportunity to comprehend once again what God has laid out for us. God knows the world is still in need of witness and conversion just as it was on that first Easter day. Let’s get at it!
SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER
Today’s readings call us to open our eyes and experience the many ways that God’s mercy touches us. The First Reading notes the growing Christian community that assembles under Solomon’s portico, on the eastern side of the outer court of the Jerusalem Temple. People come from the nearby villages to receive God’s mercy in the form of healing. They even resort to putting their sick into the streets in the hope that Peter’s shadow might pass over them when he walks by.
The Second Reading recounts a vision of “one like a son of man” dressed as priest and king. We soon learn that he is the Risen Christ. The seer is afraid, because he thinks (correctly) that he is encountering a divine being, but the Risen Christ offers him consolation, saying, “Do not be afraid.” We should be consoled, as well, since seven is a symbol of fullness. The seven lampstands that stand in the presence of the divine symbolize all of us. We are not alone.
In today’s Gospel, ten of Jesus’ disciples are hiding behind locked doors on the night of the Resurrection because they are afraid. Jesus appears in their midst with a greeting of peace, giving them evidence that he was, in fact, alive. Thomas, who was not with them that evening, provides a powerful profession of faith when he exclaims, “My Lord and my God!”
Even though the Apostles knew it was dangerous, they publicly performed signs and wonders. Through such works, they were following the mandate to preach. In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis directs that missionary activity is to continue today: “Evangelization takes place in obedience to the missionary mandate of Jesus: ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19-20). In these verses we see how the Risen Christ sent his followers to preach the Gospel in every time and place, so that faith in him might spread to every corner of the earth” (#19). Now is the time for each one of us to hear the Spirit directing us to not be afraid and therefore to go out to all the nations and proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. We do it primarily by the life of faith we live daily. Sometimes, then, we are also called to proclaim it in words.
For Your Reflection: Have you ever imagined Christ wishing you peace when you were troubled? How have you been helped when you struggled with belief? What part does gratitude to God play in your life?
ST. PETER’S ROOFING PROJECT
For the past several years we have been investigating how to fix a problem with the various roofs on our building. Water has been coming into a number of the friars’ rooms who live on the fifth floor. Professionals from the roofing company that installed the current roof almost twenty years ago came out a number of times to check for leaks and other possible reasons for the continuing water problem to no avail. Recently we also tuck pointed several areas of the building which we thought also might be at least part of the problem. While the latter helped somewhat in the solution, still it was not a major fix.
After all these possibilities were pursued, we determined that an entirely new roof was the only viable solution. We have been working with a construction consultation company and an architectural roofing consultants firm for the past year to determine not only exactly what needs to be done but also what kind of roof would be best for our situation and which roofing company would be best to hire. All that preliminary work is now completed, and we are ready to proceed.
The new roof project began on Easter Monday, April 22. It is estimated to be finished by the end of June, if not sooner. Work will continue Monday-Friday, beginning c. 7:30 A.M. and continuing until c. 5:00 P.M., weather permitting. If rain causes a non-work day during a particular week, it will be made up on the following Saturday. Since the current roof will be completely removed and a totally new one installed, there will be times during the day that a good deal of noise will take place. As much as possible the workers will try to avoid this happening during any of the Masses, but at times no doubt this will not be able to be avoided entirely.
All the roofing materials for the new roof will be hoisted to the top of the church by a mechanism that will be installed in the alley behind the church. The same mechanism will allow the workers to dispose of all the materials from the old roof. We do not anticipate any disruptions along the sidewalk in the front of church.
We ask for your patience and understanding as this project unfolds during the weeks ahead. We will try to keep you informed periodically as to how this necessary repair and improvement is coming along.
HOSPITALITY THIS WEEKEND
Ordinarily we have hospitality in the auditorium on the lower level of the church after the 9:00 and 11:00 Masses on the third Sunday of the month, but this month Easter fell on that third Sunday, and there were too many other things that were occupying us last week. Therefore for the month of April only, we are having hospitality on this, the fourth Sunday. We hope many will be able to join us for refreshments and conversation downstairs immediately following these two Masses. Everyone is invited.
SAINT PETER’S MEN’S GROUP
You may not be aware that every Monday evening at 5:00 P.M. we have a meeting down in the auditorium called “Saint Peter’s Men’s Group.” You will find it listed every week in the bulletin in the Activities section. This group has been meeting for many years and has played a great part in the lives of many men who have been coming together for support and assistance as they grow and mature. The primary reason for the group’s existence is for men who are dealing with some aspect of sexual addiction: it could be pornography, masturbation, marital infidelity, visiting adult book stores, seeking massage for something other than relief of sore muscles, feeling sexual temptations to be too much to handle, etc.
At a meeting you will find you are not alone in what you are dealing with; others have been struggling with the same problems. You will also find individuals who can testify that there is hope because they are now free of their subjection to addiction. There will also be persons who are willing to be your sponsor, and you will find all this done in an atmosphere of confidentiality, spirituality and Christian love of neighbor. We invite anyone to try this Men’s Group who wants to get better. That’s Mondays at 5:00 P.M. in the St. Clare Auditorium. Spending this hour a week could very well save your life and save your marriage.
RETROUVAILLE—A LIFELINE FOR MARRIAGES
The word Retrouvaille (re-tro-vi with a long i) is a French word meaning rediscovery. This program helps couples heal and renew their marriages and offers tools needed to rediscover a loving marriage relationship. Do you feel lost, alone or bored in your marriage? Are you frustrated, hurt or angry with your spouse? Are you constantly fighting? Have you thought about separation or divorce? Does talking about it only make it worse? Thousands of couples headed for cold, unloving relationships have successfully overcome their marriage problems by attending this program. Some couples come during the initial signs of a marriage problem and others are in a state of despair. The Retrouvaille Program consists of a weekend experience combined with a series of 6 post-weekend sessions. The tools learned here will help put your marriage in order again. The main emphasis of the program is on communication in marriage between husband and wife. It will give you the opportunity to rediscover each other and examine your lives together in a new and positive way.
You can go to www.retrouvaille.org for general information about the program. The program really accomplishes what it sets out to do. A recent survey of 5,236 couples who made a weekend gave the following results: Over 76% are still married to the same spouse at the five-year anniversary of their attending a Retrouvaille weekend; over 95% are likely to recommend the Retrouvaille Program to a struggling couple; over 95% felt heard, respected, and cared for during the registration process; over 97% consider the Retrouvaille Program to be affordable, and over 96% consider the weekend experience as time well utilized.
Couples state that the top ranking benefits from participating in the Retrouvaille Program as 1) improved communication; 2) learned more about my spouse; 3) learned more about myself; 4) grew closer together as a couple; 5) improved conflict management and 6) improved relationship with faith. Don’t delay; do it today.
A CHUCKLE FOR THE EASTER SEASON
Heather and Marcy hadn’t seen each other in a while, so they decided to meet for lunch.
The talk naturally got around to their respective love lives. Marcy confided that there really wasn’t anyone special in her life. Heather, on the other hand, was beaming about the new man she had found.
“He’s perfect. He’s handsome, and last night when we went out to dinner, he said the four little words I’ve been waiting to hear a man say to me!”
“Oh, did he say, “Will you marry me?” Marcy asked.
Heather replied, “No, he said, ‘Put your money away.’”