Last Sunday we blessed Palm branches, waved them in jubilation, sang Hosanna, and listened to Saint Matthew’s account of the Passion, preparing for Holy Week. To appreciate this Easter Sunday, its full import can only be known after celebrating the Triduum: one celebration that takes place over three days.
On Holy Thursday we received the sacred oils (used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing of the sick and Holy Orders) blessed by our Bishop Patrick McGrath, heard how Jesus served his disciples at the Last Supper by washing their feet, taking on the role of a slave, and told them to do what he did. If you wish to be my disciples, follow me, and serve others. Gladly we celebrated the Eucharist, the gift of life that Christ gives to us over and over again, and then kept watch in silent prayer before the reserved Eucharist. We came back together Friday evening to listen to Saint John’s account of the Passion, prayed for the needs of the whole world and then venerated the wood of a cross. It was on a tree, at once a throne and at the same time a cruel instrument of death for Jesus who conquered death to free us from sin. Quietly, reverently, individuals, families, people came to venerate that symbol of our salvation. After a communion rite we departed silently.
Last night at the Easter Vigil, the faithful gathered in the darkness to experience the light of the new fire. We took that flame with us by way of lit candles into the darkened church to sing God’s praises in the Exsultet, hear the stories of our faith from Genesis to Ezekiel to Romans, sang God’s glory, and finally heard the Gospel account of Jesus’ resurrection. Saint Matthew tells us that the women discovered the empty tomb and an angel tells them to go back and tell the disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.” We renewed our baptismal promises, dipped hands into the waters of the font, received the bread and cup of eternal salvation in communion and went forth singing “Alleluia!” We went forth into the night buoyed up by the gift of salvation, the wonders of redemption and the story of our faith expressed and witnessed once more.
Today, on this Easter day we continue to sing God’s praises in the Gloria, offer acclamations of joy in singing Alleluia and pray that the Lord continue to raise us up. For that is the nature of the Paschal mystery, that even though we still carry crosses, God raises us up, gives us the courage to live each and every day, to come again and again to this sacred place to be renewed in spirit.
May this Easter be for you a new moment of faith, rekindle your hope and bring you here again and again. May Saint Anthony be your destination place every Sunday for worship! On behalf of the parish pastoral staff, I wish you and your families a Blessed and Happy Easter!! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Father Larry Hendel