Recently Pope Francis urged priests against “loosing their roots”: a priest “always remains a man of the people and the culture that have produced him; our roots help us to remember who we are and to where Christ has called us. We priests do not fall from above but are instead called by God, who takes us ‘from among people’, to ‘ordain us for people’.”
On the cover of this week’s bulletin is a picture of Monsignor Zegers, the founding pastor of the Church of the Resurrection, laying hands on me at my ordination to the priesthood twenty-five years ago on May 16, 1992.
On May 23, 1992, I returned to the Church of the Resurrection to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving with the community who prayed, supported and encouraged me through ten years of seminary formation.
And so, almost twenty-five years to the day, on May 21, at 11:00am, I invite you to join me at the Church of the Resurrection as I offer a Mass of Thanksgiving to God for you and all those you love who have continued to pray, support and encourage me. Following the Mass we will have a picnic on the campus.
I will supply the burgers and the dogs if you will bring the desserts. In order for me to have an accurate head count, please contact the office (609) 390-0664 by Friday, May 12. Or, you can sign up after all Masses, in Saint Casimir Church and the Church of the Resurrection on the weekends of April 29/30 and May 6/7.
All . . . young and old, are invited. In addition to your presence, I invited Pope Francis. The following picture was his response:
I am grateful to God that I am rooted in you.
We are excited to announce that our parish has subscribed to an online platform called “FORMED”. Every parishioner with internet access will have 24/7 access to the best Catholic content on your computer, smartphone or tablet. Please visit http://formed.org and use the Parish Access Code: NG32WJ
“Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’” (Mt. 28.5-7)
This is the truth that we celebrate. Our Lord Jesus Christ is with us and will forever be present in our midst. He is true to his promise. He is alive. He wants to meet us in Galilee. What is the significance of Galilee? It was Jesus’ home. It was where Jesus’ followers lived. It was the place where many significant events took place as Jesus fulfills his mission. Even now, Jesus wants to meet us where we live. He wants to find a dwelling there. He wants to entrust us with a mission of making his presence known and experienced by everyone.
As I write this, it is Thursday, April 6, ten days before Easter. The bulletin company requires I submit my ‘View’ today in order for production and delivery by Easter Sunday. AccuWeather indicates that the weather for Easter will bring “abundant sunshine”, high temperature of 61° and a low of 41° (perhaps a little chilly for Easter sunrise Mass) and 0% chance of rain (I tremble as I write this).
And so, presuming that as we gather in the brightness of this Easter day, I hope we gather to celebrate not only the Resurrection, but also the great lengths to which our God is willing to go in order that we, the lost, might be redeemed. Our God was willing to make His home among us and to go to the cross for us. He teaches us that without the risk of losing one’s life, the willingness to suffer, the humility to carry a cross, the Resurrection is impossible.
Over these past three days we have devoutly recalled how Jesus was willing to bear the humility of being a man, how He died upon a cross, how He descended into hell, unlocked the gates of heaven, and conquered the darkness of evil and sin. From the hopelessness of the tomb and from the emptiness of the grave, the Son of God has risen, and He comes to us ‘in our homes’ this day with the promise of eternal life.
On behalf of our entire Parish Staff, we join together in extending to you our heartfelt prayer that you experience the joy of Easter. Since Easter is fifty days long, I hope we will have many opportunities to greet you personally and to thank you for the life you bring to our Saint Maximilian Kolbe Parish family. We extend a word of appreciation to all who sacrificed to make our Holy Week as prayerful, inspiring, and inviting as it has been.
We also extend a warm welcome to those who are visitors to our Parish. We are grateful you chose to celebrate Easter with us. We extend an invitation to you to become a regular part of our Parish life. The bulletin cover lists our Mass times and phone numbers. Please visit our parish website and call us if we can be of any assistance to you. Welcome again, and may the joy of Easter belong to you and all those in your home where the Risen Lord seeks to dwell,
Holy Week, Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday, is a journey through the last weeks of the life of Our Lord and the story of salvation for the people of God. It is the most solemn and Holy Week of the entire Christian liturgical year.
Liturgy literally means, “the work of the people.” It is where the work of the people, and the work of God come together in one mystical celebration. Liturgy is not simply some form of participating in religious observances. Liturgy is a mystical celebration where God and humanity, heaven and earth meet.
We begin with Palm/Passion Sunday in our parish churches and we recognize that our initial joy of welcoming Jesus into the city of our life can all too quickly end with denial of Christ when following Him requires real sacrifice and commitment. But this is just the beginning of the week.
The high point of Holy Week is the Triduum when we gather in only one church as one parish to celebrate the central moment of our Christian identity. On Holy Thursday we celebrate that Our Lord, the night before He died, left us with the enduring gifts of the Eucharist and the ordained priesthood. After the Mass we begin the liturgical journey of the Passion with Jesus to the Agony of the Garden, the betrayal and arrest, the mock trial of injustice, and the night in prison.
Good Friday is the commemoration of the Lord’s Passion on the cross, and the Veneration of the Cross. We call Good Friday, “good” because we celebrate the loving sacrifice of God in Jesus for everyone, and for each one of us personally. Here we focus on every suffering and every drop of blood Jesus shed for us personally. Later we will gather for Tenebrae in the pavilion as if outside the tomb.
Holy Saturday is eerily quiet and still. We try to capture something of the sense of absence that the first followers of Jesus might have felt after he died on the cross. No liturgies. No communion. No Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle. All church décor is gone. All is empty and lifeless.
Then, after sundown and before sunrise on Sunday we celebrate the Easter Vigil. We recall the story of salvation in our readings from the beginning of creation to the call of the chosen people. Then, in the Gospel we discover the empty tomb of Jesus and the sheer amazement of the first disciples. We too are amazed. From death to life. From darkness to everlasting life. From humiliation to glory. From sin and sorrow to holiness and joy. All is made new in the Risen Christ.
For others, we will like those first followers, leave our home in darkness, before the non-Christian world awakes and gather to await the rising sun and the Risen Lord. Whether on the beach in Strathmere or our parish churches, we will celebrate with unparalleled joy that He is truly risen.
On this journey I will pray with you and for you during this Holy Week. Make the journey personally. Don’t allow this to be a week of disconnected rituals. Make it a mystical liturgical journey that is personal and truly life changing. Jesus did all of this personally for all of us. It is intimate. It is powerful. It is life changing. That’s really what we celebrate this Holy Week. This week set apart.
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