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. It is my favorite day of the year, and I am always happy 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.
We really need that joy in today's world. We hear so much sad news about violence and the opioid crisis. We know that Christians are being persecuted in many places – and that violence and tragedy touches too many people right here in our own country. 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 great to see so many people at Daily Mass, Confessions, Stations of the Cross, 24 Hours for the Lord, the Evening of Spiritual Awakening, and the Parish Lenten Mission on Wednesday evenings this Lent. Seeing people use Lent as a time for spiritual growth was very rewarding for me, and I'm sure for them, too.
After Mass on Easter I'm going to my sister, Natalie's home. Family and friends will be stopping in and eating all day – which is right up my alley! 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. I look forward to seeing you then.