This week I want to share a few brief thoughts about the Easter season:
1) First, I want to thank everyone who poured time, energy, imagination and devotion into planning and celebrating the great liturgies of Holy Week in our parish communities.
I don’t recall a year in which so many have expressed to me the pleasure, satisfaction and spiritual nourishment they received from participation in their parish celebrations. Those comments say a lot about the openness these individuals brought to the celebrations. But they are also a strong testimony to the commitment our priests, pastoral leaders and all who work with them bring to the planning and celebration of these rich and beautiful liturgies.
The comments ranged wide. One person noted with obvious pleasure that young people in his parish were intentionally and consistently engaged in planning and participating in the liturgies of Holy Week. Another person expressed much pleasure with the music at the celebrations and with the robust participation of the assembly in the musical program. I remember how gratified one mother was at the way her pastor presided and preached on Easter Sunday. She was pleased with the pastor herself, but took special joy in the fact that her son, age 17, reacted very positively to what he experienced.
There were many other comments. They all signaled the generous efforts so many expended to make Holy Week liturgies very special and bore a good deal of fruit. To one and all, seen or unseen, who did that work and sacrificed so much to do it, I offer most sincere thanks — for myself and on behalf of all whose faith was nourished by your efforts.
2) I am still nourished by memories of our first Holy Week in two years in our renewed Sacred Heart Cathedral. The highlight for me was the experience of baptizing three adult women in our new baptismal font.
If you follow “Along the Way,” you know that I love our new baptismal font. I think that its size, substance, form and physical relationship to the altar and ambo speak volumes about the significance of baptism and its relationship to the Word of God and the Eucharist.
The actual baptisms in the font brought my appreciation of this feature of Sacred Heart to a new level. With the assembly gathered around the font in prayerful support, each woman in turn entered the font, knelt and was baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
I can’t tell you how moved I was by that experience or how many people expressed their joy at renewing their baptismal promises around the font and signing themselves with the water as they returned to their places for the remainder of the liturgy.
3) Finally, I note that next Sunday afternoon we will welcome the second of several regional pilgrimages to our cathedral. Those attending will be invited to tour the renewed facility at their leisure and then to gather for prayer.
I look forward to greeting all visitors and to praying with them and for them in this holy season. It will be a wonderful opportunity to remember and to strengthen the bonds of faith and charity to which we are called. If you are not coming this weekend, I hope that you will think about joining the experience of a pilgrimage on the date when your region is planning to come. Whether you come on pilgrimage or not, you will always be most welcome at Sacred Heart.
Peace to all.