Congratulations to everyone who is receiving Sacraments leading up to and during the Easter Season!
We want to rejoice with all those who have been Baptized, received Confirmation, First Holy Communion, Holy Matrimony, First Reconciliation, and Holy Orders, and to continue to pray with and for those who received Anointing of the sick during Lent. This pouring out of God’s Grace is especially joyful in connection with the celebration of His Resurrection at Easter.
We will be praying this week for all of our young parishioners about to receive their First Reconciliation on Saturday and those who will receive First Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday. Fifty days from now our young people will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on Pentecost Sunday.
I am so grateful to all of the many volunteers and staff who have worked throughout the school year to help prepare our candidates for their Sacraments. Also those who have been sponsors for Baptism and Confirmation, and witnesses at weddings. This is a wonderful way to live out your own call to holiness in service of your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Easter is the greatest feast in the Christian calendar. On this Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For Catholics, Easter Sunday comes at the end of 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving known as Lent. Through spiritual struggle and self-denial, we have prepared ourselves to die spiritually with Christ on Good Friday, the day of His Crucifixion, so that we can rise again with Him in new life on Easter.
Easter is a day of celebration because it represents the fulfillment of our faith as Christians. Saint Paul wrote that, unless Christ rose from the dead, our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians15:17). Through his death, Christ saved mankind from bondage to sin and He destroyed the hold that death has on all of us; but it is His Resurrection that gives us the promise of new life, both in this world and the next.
That is why people who are converting to Catholicism traditionally are baptized at the Easter Vigil service, which takes place on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter), starting sometime after sunset. They have usually undergone a long process of study and preparation known as the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). Their baptism parallels Christ’s own Death and Resurrection, as they die to sin and rise to new life in the Kingdom of God.
Because of the central importance of Easter to the Christian faith, the Catholic Church requires that all Catholics who have made their First Communion receive the Holy Eucharist sometime during the Easter season which lasts through Pentecost, 50 days after Easter. (The Church also urges us to take part in the Sacrament of Confession before receiving this Easter communion.) This reception of the Eucharist is a visible sign of our faith and our participation in the Kingdom of God. Of course, we should receive Communion as frequently as possible; this “Easter Duty” is simply the minimum requirement set by the Church.
Easter isn’t a spiritual event that happened just once, long ago; we don’t say “Christ has risen” but “Christ is risen,” because He rose, body and soul, and is still alive and with us today. That is the true meaning of Easter.
Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
-Thanks to Scott P. Richert for some of the information in this article.