Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

On Wednesday, March 19, Sister Mary Caroline Tessa, a Sister of our Boston community died of pancreatic cancer. I knew Sister when I first met the Daughters of St. Paul in Youngstown, Ohio. Sister never seemed to age with her lovely complexion and sweet smile. She offered herself to the Lord with her first vows on March 19, 1948. On her 60th anniversary, the Lord came to take her to himself where she would celebrate an eternal Easter with him. We recommend Sister's soul to the Lord's loving mercy, and we trust that she is enjoying the reward of "the good and faithful servant."

As I write this, it is still Holy Saturday. In some churches in our part of the world, the Easter Vigil is underway. On this night people are being baptized, and confirmed and receiving the Eucharist--Communion--for the first time. My little community attended an earlier Easter Vigil Mass at a convent in our neighborhood. Sister Hosea sang the Exsultet, a song that begins with the word "Rejoice" that is sung immediately after the Easter fire is lit, and the Paschal Candle is brought into the church. Sister has a lovely voice and made the evening's liturgy even more solemn. Today a gentleman accompanied by his wife, his mother-in-law and his young daughter came into our center to celebrate the man's reception into the church which was to take place tonight. He was beaming with joy as he told us that he would receive all three sacraments tonight: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The three adults all were intent on choosing Christian DVD's and other DVD's with good values. He wanted the "classics" such as Ben Hur, Song of Bernadette and many more. He choose one of our favorites, Amazing Grace. It's the story of William Wilberforce who labored in the House of Commons in England to abolish slavery in the British Empire in the 1800's (about 30 years before it was abolished in the USA). The new Christian/Catholic's enthusiasm was contagious. It made clear to me why Christianity must have spread so fast in its early days. When someone is truly joy-filled, and ready to explain the why of his joy, then it is hard to resist being caught up into the same enthusiasm. The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek "en theos" (roughly translated) as "being in God." Theos is the Greek word for God. A recent Catholic news item said that about 64,000 men and women were to join the Church in the USA tonight. I am not sure how many are being received into the church in Canada. However, I think it is a large number too. Despite the sins and failures of Catholic Christians, people are finding Christ in the Catholic Church and the true peace which comes from that relationship with the Lord. And, it is a relationship with Christ in his brothers and sisters too. "How can we love the Christ we cannot see, if we do not love the brother or sister whom we do see?"
Many people came in our Pauline Book & Media Centre today looking for gifts to help new Catholics on their spiritual journey. It's a great feeling to know that in some way through our mission of media evangelization, we have been able to accompany and assist these new Christians.
A Sister from Italy sent me a bookmark with a lovely Easter saying. I'd like to share it with you as my Easter greeting to each of you: It is from Pope Benedict (no date was supplied), "The Lord says to each one of us, 'I have risen and now I am always with you!' Wherever you might fall, you will fall into my hands. I am present with you even to the gates of death....There [in heaven] I await you and for you I will transform darkness into light."

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