A word from Pope Francis ~ “At Easter, God reveals his glory: He takes away the last veil and astonishes us as never before. We discover, in fact, that God’s glory is all love: pure love, mad and unthinkable, beyond every limit and measure.”
On this first Sunday in May, 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 we celebrated at our Easter Vigil – the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
As 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 First Communion during the Easter Season. Our celebrations of First Communion began last Saturday and concluded on Saturday, April 30th. Three separate Masses took place over those two days. We congratulate the families of our 2022 First Communicants and promise the additional support of our prayers.
Thank you to all who have already pledged to the 2022 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 follow-up letter to those families who responded to the Appeal in the past but have yet to respond this year. Weekly Appeal reports for our parish have begun. As of last Monday’s update, 565 households have pledged $141,210 towards our parish goal of $154,900. And of the amount pledged, $84,769 has already been paid! That is incredible news, especially since we know some of our most recent pledges have not been included in this report. 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 2022 CMAA goal. We can do this with the participation of each family in our parish. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
At our April Parish Council meeting, our council members suggested that it would be helpful to provide an update on any COVID regulations that we are still facing and to review the ones which have been lifted. I will include that update in next week’s column.
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