Now that we are two weeks removed from Easter Sunday, it might be a good time to evaluate how the spirit of Easter has been continuing in our lives. All too frequently we can get excited about something, but then as that event moves more and more distantly from our minds, it can fade into almost nothingness because we move on into another phase of our lives. Do you remember the first full-time job you had? You may have been a bit nervous when you first began; however, you probably were excited to meet the people with whom you would work, to see how you would use your talents and energy to bring to this endeavor, and then to see how your fellow employees would accept you. Once that first phase had passed, it might seem that you fell into a rhythm that was more like routine than excitement.
Easter reminds us not only of the reality of Jesus Christ’s death and rising, but it also is to remind us that this death and rising is something that becomes a pattern of our lives. It was just a few weeks ago that we heard the devastating news that the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris had caught fire and thereby had the distinct possibility of completely falling into ruin after standing in stately existence for more than 800 years. It was horrific to see those flames shooting through the roof, the spire toppling down into the body of the church, and wondering whether the building itself could be saved structurally. It reminded me of another fire some time ago when lightning struck St. Anthony of Padua Church in St. Louis, the headquarters of our Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart or the recent fires at our own Cathedral of the Holy Name. In all three of these cases what looked like utter destruction actually turned out to be great hope that with the generous help of thousands of individuals and groups out of these ashes would arise once again a vibrant and living community of faith—death and resurrection.
We have just witnessed another tragedy throughout the southern and eastern sections of our country, namely the destructive tornados that have ravaged a number of states during this springtime weather. Homes were destroyed, trees toppled, semis overturned, and cars smashed by huge limbs crushing them to pieces. What always strikes me when something of this nature happens and people are interviewed soon afterward is that many of them say, “Yes, it was awful. The sound of the roaring wind was horrific. I was scared to death and thought I was going to die, but none of my family was killed, and we can rebuild our home.” Death once again was leading to new life, to resurrection.
Or who hasn’t known someone who seemingly was in very good health and then went to see the doctor for “routine” tests, only to find out from the results that he/she had a serious illness—one that could possibly lead to an early death. However, with proper surgery and follow up therapy they found out that this unwelcome visitor could be conquered and a life full of goodness and love could still be theirs. Again: death to resurrection.
The Easter event can truly be seen in circumstances such as the above, but this can also present itself in less dramatic fashion throughout our lives. For example, we may experience a strained relationship with a good friend after years of good times, and we may wonder exactly what happened to cause this problem (we certainly wish we had the answer for a quick fix, but that seldom is the case). We lament the fact that we no longer have this friend as before—it’s a death experience—but we pray, we ask for wisdom, we keep reaching out to the person, sometimes with little response, and almost miraculously something occurs to bring the two individuals back together—a resurrection.
What Jesus wants to teach us during this Easter Season is not just that we are called to follow him back to the Father after our earthly life is complete. He wants us to see this death-resurrection sequence actually lived here on earth many times over. In other words, it is a pattern for our existence rather than a one-time occurrence. It is what keeps us on a joyful journey even though there are times of pain and suffering. It is a way of life that allows us to set such a good example for others to see so that they, too, may not get bogged down by difficult situations but rather be buoyed up by the Christian response they see in us which hopefully speaks positively to them for how they might find hope.
THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
Today’s readings portray the Good News of Jesus Christ overflowing and growing like leaven. It cannot be stifled or stamped out.
In the First Reading, we learn that the Apostles were arrested and put on trial before the Sanhedrin that had earlier condemned Jesus. The high priest of the Jerusalem Temple scolded them for continuing to speak about Jesus, even after they were told to keep silent. However, with all boldness, they persisted in their testimony. When they were flogged and released with strong warnings against teaching about Jesus, what did they do? They continued to proclaim Jesus as Messiah everywhere. Such is the power of the Good News.
The Second Reading contains a vision of a heavenly liturgy in honor of the Lamb (the Risen Christ) and the one seated on the throne (God). Notice how the place is crammed with myriads of angels and other beings, all singing their song of praise to the Lamb who was slain and is now exalted in glory.
In today’s Gospel, the disciples seem not to know what to do with themselves without Jesus, until Peter announces that he is going fishing—back to his old way of life—and the others join in. Suddenly the Risen Lord appears on the shore, waiting to share breakfast with them. The bread and fish suggest that the meal has Eucharistic overtones. After breakfast, Jesus gives Peter a mission and foreshadows the manner in which he would die—all for the spread of the Good News.
After querying Peter about his love for him, Jesus tells Simon Peter, “Feed my lambs.” Christians nurture others in a variety of ways as they reveal how the Good News has affected their lives. In Ad gentes, the Second Vatican Council document on missionary activity, the Fathers of the Council state: “All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of the word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new person which they put on in baptism, and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation so that others, seeing their good works, might glorify the Father (see Matthew 5:16) and more perfectly perceive the true meaning of human life and the universal solidarity of humankind” (#11).
The Apostles were undeterred when told not to preach in Jesus’ name. Today, too, followers of Christ cannot back away from giving testimony to their faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The Christian is not to ‘be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord.’ In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation” (#2471).
For Your Reflection: How do you speak about your faith to others? When have you praised the Lord for what he has done in your life? During this Easter season, could you find a way to be intentional about recognizing Christ in your midst?
MAY IS THE MONTH OF MARY
Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical letter on the Month of May, wrote the following: “The month of May is the month which the piety of the faithful has especially dedicated to Our Blessed Lady, and it is the occasion for a moving tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world pay to the Queen of Heaven. During this month Christians, both in church and in the privacy of their homes, offer up to Mary from their hearts an especially fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration. In this month, too, the benefits of God’s mercy come down to us from her throne in greater abundance.”
This Christian custom of dedicating the month of May to the Blessed Virgin arose at the end of the 13th century. In this way, the Church was able to Christianize the secular feasts which were wont to take place at that time. In the 16th century, books appeared and fostered this devotion. The practice became especially popular among the members of the Jesuit Order, particularly at their Gesu church in Rome, and from there it spread to the whole Church.
More recently in May of 2002, Pope St. John Paul II wrote, “Today we begin the month dedicated to Our Lady, a favorite of popular devotion. In accord with a long-standing tradition of devotion, parishes and families continue to make the month of May a ‘Marian’ month, celebrating it with many devout liturgical, catechetical and pastoral initiatives.” In these remaining days of May, let us reflect on the person of Mary, our mother, and ask her intercession to lead us more and more to her Son.
SAINT PETER’S ANNUAL GALA
Many of you have already noticed the announcement of our 2019 St. Peter’s Gala which will take place on Thursday, July 18, from 5:30-8:30 P.M. at the Union League Club at 65 West Jackson. This is the same location where we have celebrated the Gala in previous years. During this month of May we will be selling tickets for the Gala ($175.00 each) most days in the lobby, and we would be honored if you would consider purchasing a ticket or two in order to join us for this festive occasion. You will receive a wonderful meal with drinks, will enjoy the company of many friends of St. Peter’s, will be able to meet and converse with many of the friars whom you see at the church but often do not have the opportunity to speak with, and finally to bid on both silent and live auction items. All the funds collected will be used to help defray our annual operating deficit which runs almost a half million dollars. With your participation we hope to net $200,000 this year.
COMMUNAL ANOINTING OF THE SICK
For the past several years we have been celebrating a Communal Service of the Anointing of the Sick quarterly in church. One of those times is around the Memorial of St. Damien de Vuester—more commonly known as Damien of Molokai. Damien wanted to assist the lepers on that Hawaiian island because they were so often treated poorly, in fact inhumanly in many cases. Along with some religious Sisters he spent many years ministering to these individuals and bring the sacraments of Jesus to them. Many of them were not only ostracized because of their illness, but they often died with no one other than Damien and the sisters at their side.
We will celebrate the Anointing of the Sick this coming Friday, May 10, during the 1:15 Mass. Anyone over the age of 62 or others who have a chronic illness, who will soon undergo a major surgery or who is about to have tests to diagnose a serious illness may receive the sacrament. We ask that those who want to receive the anointing to come five to ten minutes before the beginning of Mass so that you may be seated in such a way to allow the priests to come through the church easily for the laying on of hands and for the anointing. The anointing service will take place immediately after the homily during Mass.
ADORATION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
One of the marvelous gifts we have in the Catholic Church is the fact that we always have the presence of the Lord in our churches due to the reservation of the Body of Christ reserved in the tabernacle. But that presence is even more manifest when the Consecrated Host is placed in the monstrance and then publicly displayed for the veneration of the faithful in what we call the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Here at St. Peter’s we have the opportunity to visit Our Lord in this special way every Monday-Friday for the three hours between 1:45 and 4:45 in the afternoon. I hope you try to take advantage of this devotion at least once or twice a week. You need not stay for a longer period of time; even a short visit allows you to focus, to thank the Lord for blessings received, to acknowledge that you owe everything to His goodness and love, and to praise Him for all he has done and continues to do for you. It also gives you a bit of quiet time to just be in His presence and to give Him a chance to speak with you as He sees fit.
SECOND COLLECTION NEXT WEEKEND
As an ailing senior, Cochise relies on the help of a dependable home aide to help her with daily tasks and errands so she could continue to live in her own home and enjoy a high quality of life. When she had trouble finding an aide that would fit her needs, she reached out to Catholic Charities who worked with her to find somebody she was comfortable with. Last year 364,373 seniors were supported by Catholic Charities through many programs, including home delivered meals, adult day care, senior centers, congregate meals, family caregiver assistance, transportation services, the hospital transition program, and more. The support seniors receive from Catholic Charities ensures that they continue to live comfortably in their own homes and communities for as long as possible with dignity and compassionate support.
Please give to Catholic Charities on Mother’s Day to help seniors stay healthy. Learn more at www.catholiccharities.net.
“We are all a little fragile, the elderly. Some, however, are particularly weak, many are alone and affected by illness. Some depend on the indispensable care and attention of others which as Catholics we must provide.” Pope Francis
A CHUCKLE FOR THE EASTER SEASON
An elderly couple had just learned how to send text messages on their cellphones. The wife was a romantic type, and the husband was more of a no-nonsense guy.
One afternoon the wife went out to meet a friend for coffee. She decided to send her husband a romantic text message, so she wrote, “If you are sleeping, send me your dreams. If you are laughing, send me your smile. If you are eating, send me a bite. If you are drinking, send me a sip. If you are crying, send me your tears. I love you.”
The husband texted back to her, “I’m using the bathroom. Please advise.”