I want to begin by wishing each and every one of you a blessed and happy Easter. The Resurrection of Jesus stands at the very heart of everything we believe as Catholics. I am pleased to celebrate it with you.
Easter is so important to us that we celebrate it not just for a day – but for a season of fifty days. The Easter Season is longer than Lent because the joy of the Resurrection is greater than penance of Lent. As part of our celebration of this joyful season, our Church will be decorated throughout the Easter Season. The new Paschal (Easter) Candle will stand near the pulpit, rising high into the air as a symbol of Christ's glorious Resurrection.
The Rite of Sprinkling with Holy Water will replace the Penitential Rite at most Sunday Masses during the Easter Season. This is to remind us that the New Life Christ gave us in Baptism has as its goal our Resurrection and Eternal Life in Heaven. Additionally, the Gloria will be sung as a joyful hymn. May these beautiful ceremonies fill us with the joy that the first disciples felt when they saw the Risen Lord on the first Easter Sunday.
That joy is so important in today's world. The news is all too full of stories about violence, tragedy, and war. The fact that Christians are being persecuted in far too many places – and that violence touches too many people right here in our own country – is sobering, to say the least. But the Good News of Easter reminds us that Christ has ultimately triumphed over death and sin. United with Him – through Baptism and by living as He taught – we will triumph and rise with Him to Everlasting Life.
I want to say a special "thank you" to everyone who made this Lent so wonderful. It was inspiring to see so many people at Daily Mass, Confessions, Stations of the Cross and the Parish Lenten Mission on Wednesday evenings (at least when it wasn't snowing!) this Lent. Seeing people use Lent as a time for spiritual growth was very rewarding for me, and I'm sure for them, too.
Instead of going to one of my sister's homes as I usually do on Easter, I'm heading to my Mom's. My sisters will do most of the cooking, but my mother wanted to have everyone for Easter – so that's what we're going to do! I hope that many of you also have a chance to spend Easter with family and friends.
On Monday morning, I'm going to head out to Altoona for a few days of rest and train watching – as I often do after Easter. I'll be back for next weekend's Masses though. One of those Masses will be the Acies Mass for the Legion of Mary. This beautiful Mass in honor of our Blessed Mother will be offered in our Church on Saturday, April 7 at 12:30pm. All are welcome!