A word from Pope Francis ~ “Easter is the feast of tombstones taken away, rocks rolled aside. God takes away even the hardest stones against which our hopes and expectations crash: death, sin, fear, worldliness.”
We continue our Easter celebration of life as we celebrate the Third Sunday of Easter. During this past week, our weekday Gospel readings led us through John, Chapter 3. We saw Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus and listened to his teaching on the need to be “born again.” It gave us the opportunity to reflect on and appreciate the gift of our Baptism. On Friday, we began reading from John, Chapter 6 – the great Bread of Life discourse. This is the beginning of our reflection on another of the Sacraments of Initiation that was celebrated at our Easter Vigil – the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
As we saw in the 40 day season of Lent, there is a progression to our celebration of the 50 day season of Easter. Traditionally, the Easter season was the time when the local Bishop would gather with those who had been initiated into the church community at the Easter Vigil. At the Vigil, they celebrated all three Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Often those being initiated were not given the details of what would happen to them during the Vigil. Rather, the church trusted that the symbols used in each sacrament would convey an experience of the Risen Lord’s presence. Only later did we take time to explain to the newly-initiated members of the church what had happened. It was an interesting progression – they experienced the Lord in the sacraments first, and received the explanation second. The Bishop would gather with the new Christians throughout the Easter season and provide the explanations. The Sunday and daily Scripture readings were arranged to guide them in their reflections throughout the Easter Season.
Since Easter is the primary season of initiation into the church community, we intentionally schedule our special celebrations of the Sacraments of Initiation (Confirmation and First Communion) during the Easter Season. We will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation on Friday, May 7th and Saturday May 8th with three separate Masses over those two days. Our celebrations of First Communion will begin this Saturday, April 24th and conclude on Saturday, May 1st. Again, three separate Masses will take place over those two days. As we prayed throughout Lent for those entering the church at the Easter Vigil, so now we pray for our young people who will be celebrating Sacraments of Initiation over the next few weeks.
Thank you to all who have already pledged to the 2021 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, and especially to those who recently returned their pledge cards to the diocese. Bishop Hicks has recently sent a letter to those families who have responded to the Appeal in the past but have yet to respond this year. We received the first Appeal up-date for our parish last Monday. Thus far 569 households have pledged $137,558 towards our parish goal of $167,300. And of the amount pledged, $100,239 has already been paid. That is incredible news, especially since the COVID restrictions required that all steps in this year’s Appeal be done through the mail. Thank you for taking the extra step by mailing your pledge cards back to the Diocese. If you haven’t had a chance to respond yet, please do so as soon as possible. Payments may be spread out over the next few months. Please join me and help us to reach our 2021 CMAA goal. We can do this with the participation of each family in our parish. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
Please see our weekly bulletin posted on the parish website for additional news, the additional notices posted on Flocknote and other notices on our parish Facebook page. We try to use as many social media vehicles as possible to keep everyone up-to-date with all that is happening here.
We spent 40 days fasting in preparation for the feast of Easter. Now we are called to spend 50 days feasting in celebration. We need to hold on to our Easter belief that God always leads us from death to new life. God will lead us through whatever we have to face to totally new life. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy