Renewal: Easter, Jesus, Francis... Us?
I’m all for celebrating! We prepared for Easter with forty days of intense prayer, penance, and charity during Lent.
How about celebrating now for forty days—until Ascension Thursday—come to think of it, for fifty days—until Pentecost Sunday?
These ninety days—forty days of union with the suffering and death of Jesus during Lent, plus forty days of Easter joy, plus ten more days until Pentecost—are classic days of renewal for us who follow Jesus.
Even nature cooperates, as this grand season of the Church calendar takes place against the backdrop of the cold, dark, and dreary days of winter giving way to the warm, bright, vibrant days of spring.
Even baseball chips in, as opening day for the Yankees and Mets last Monday, revives hope and gives us all a new start.
I sure am renewed as I daily meet hundreds of you who tell me of a recovered holiness, a fresh beginning, with faith deepened, prayer more fervent, a return to Sunday Mass, taking our Catholic identity more seriously, a death to sin, and a new life of grace thanks to Divine Mercy.
We took seriously the invitation of God our Father on Ash Wednesday, “Come back to me with all your heart…Repent, and believe in the Gospel!”
Our wonderful catechumens and candidates gave a splendid example in refining their fidelity to Jesus and His Church during Lent, and joining our family at the Easter vigil! Alleluia! Welcome! Congratulations!
It will blossom these coming days with First Holy Communions, confirmations, weddings, and ordinations—the sacramental life of the Church unleashed from the cross and Resurrection.
Through Jesus, in Him, and with Him, especially at Easter, we have risen to a new life of grace and mercy! This renewal never stops!
It’s just a hunch, I admit…but I detect an even more radiant renewal with Jesus this Easter because of Pope Francis!
I hear it on the streets: “Cardinal Dolan, our new Pope has really inspired me! He’s so simple, so humble, so sincere! He’s like St. Francis of Assisi! I think I’ll get back to Church!”
Jesus is always renewing His Church. From the cross at San Damiano Chapel on the hillsides of Assisi, He once spoke to Francis, “Rebuild my Church!” St. Francis did!
And now Pope Francis is!
I just sent him an Easter greeting, renewing my love and loyalty. In it, I told him that during the hours and hours I heard confessions during Holy Week at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, more than one penitent mentioned, “Father, the example of our new Pope really got me back here…”
Something tells me that will be one of the most encouraging compliments he’ll get.