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Keeping Easter Joy Alive

April 19, 2012

Keeping Easter Joy Alive

A blessed Easter, everybody!

Now, don’t you go wondering why I’m still giving Easter greetings a dozen days after the great feast!

Just as it took us 40 days to prepare for Easter—that’s what Lent was all about—so now it takes us 40 days to celebrate Easter. That will bring us up to the Feast of the Ascension, when Jesus, risen from the dead, after spending 40 days with His disciples, returned to His Father in heaven.

Actually, it doesn’t even end there, because then, on the Ascension, we’ll unite with Our Lady and the Apostles in a novena, nine days of prayer, bringing us to Pentecost Sunday and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So, be patient with me, because I like to say “Happy Easter” for the 50 days after the great Feast!

And, of course, every Sunday is a “little Easter,” as we come together on the first day of the week at Mass to confess our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus.

We sometimes call this season of rejoicing the paschal season, or paschaltide. We sing alleluia! all over the place, keep the sanctuary decked out in lilies, give the paschal candle prominence, and wear the dazzling white or gold vestments.

Our catechumens and candidates are no longer “waiting,” but now full members of the Church, and their wonderful presence after their baptism, confirmation, first Eucharist, and profession of faith at the Easter Vigil, reminds us of the power of the sacraments, and the constant growth of the Church.

Our second-graders, having made their first confession during Lent, are eager to receive our Lord in Holy Communion for the first time, and that beautiful ceremony will be a time for family unity and spiritual renewal for so many at all the parishes throughout our archdiocese.

Our young teens are finishing preparation for the wonderful sacrament of confirmation, as our faithful auxiliaries, Bishop Sullivan, Bishop Walsh, Bishop Iriondo, Bishop Lagonegro, Bishop Brucato, and still Cardinal Egan, take to the corners of the archdiocese to confirm our mature young Catholics.

Hundreds of couples will approach the altar for the sacrament of matrimony, eager to seal their love and conform it to divine love: forever, faithful, and life-giving.

Our youth will graduate from eighth grade, high school, and college, trusting in God for a future full of promise and hope.

And, during these paschal days, candidates for Holy Orders will kneel before a bishop to be ordained deacons and priests, and women and men will bind themselves to the Risen Jesus and His Church in religious consecrations.

See, the radiance of our Lord’s risen life is exploding in the sacraments and blessed events all over the place! Can you blame me for still wishing you a “blessed Easter!”?

Spring helps set the tone, doesn’t it? The earth itself is alive; winter is over; gardens are being planted; grass, flowers, trees growing; each day sees more light than darkness. Nature mirrors super-nature, as God’s life flourishes in our souls and in the Church.

It’s all about the paschal mystery: the dying and rising of Jesus, and our share in it. Jesus invites us to die with Him to sin, selfishness, and Satan, and rise with Him to new life. That’s the sacred rhythm of Christian discipleship: at times we’re on the cross with Jesus; at other times we’re risen to new life with Him.

“This is the day”—these are the days—“the Lord has made! Let us be glad and rejoice in them!”

“He has risen as He said, alleluia, alleluia!”

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone! By the Lord has this been done!”

A blessed Paschaltide!

Keep celebrating ‘till Pentecost!