They were there at the 7:30 a.m. Mass in my parish on Easter Sunday as well as Masses throughout the day. Faces I had never seen before filled the pews, many finely dressed, just as they had come at Christmas. What draws this group of people these two days each year, what some call “C&E,” Christmas and Easter Catholics? Perhaps it is nostalgia for what they experienced as children–the sort feeling I have for Disney World, where I went as a kid. Or maybe they like the festive Mass and feeling of hope and renewal the seasons bring. Whatever their reasons, they are connected enough to their faith to realize that something important is held in the tradition, even if they do not attend Mass the rest of the year. Read more
In the responsorial psalm for the second Sunday of Easter, some heard the repeated refrain, “His mercy endures forever.” The house of Israel, the house of Aaron and all those who fear the Lord are called upon to proclaim God’s enduring mercy.
Unfortunately, however, the English word “mercy” does a poor job at translating the rich meaning of the Hebrew word that it represents here. The Hebrew is “hesed,” which cannot be adequately translated by any single English word. It suggests faithfulness, especially to the covenant. It connotes justice and righteousness. It speaks of God’s will to save and to have pity on the helpless. Read more
It takes real strength to be genuinely and thoughtfully merciful. Did Pontius Pilate lack the strength of character that merciful people must call into play?
Pilate failed to act mercifully some 2,000 years ago when Jesus was brought before him in Jerusalem for judgment. I say “failed,” since it appears Pilate, Rome’s governor in Judea, acted against his better judgment in handing Jesus over to those calling for his death. Read more
An Excerpt from “The Blow of Mercy”
“I still remember my first high dive,” he began. “At some point, you have to try it. You can’t keep practicing on the lower board. I had screwed up my courage and told myself I was diving into the arms of Jesus. It was a leap of faith with no support except trust. There was no turning back, midair. The dive was total and took over completely. The early Christians did it that way. I mean the catechumens. When they got baptized, they plunged into the pool and were immersed in the waters that washed them clean. They had dived into the blood of the Lamb and had come out the other side, new beings. Read more
Pope Francis formally began his ministry as bishop of Rome and as pope by pledging to protect the Catholic Church, the dignity of each person and the beauty of creation, just like St. Joseph protected Mary and Jesus.
“To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love is to open up a horizon of hope,” he told between 150,000 and 200,000 people gathered under sunny skies in St. Peter’s Square and the nearby streets. Read more
Jesus Christ is risen today! The Church proclaims this joyful message in word, song and gesture on Easter morning. But it’s more than a message for a single day or a season. It’s the bedrock on which our entire faith rests. The resurrection makes it possible to believe in a God who promises us eternal life and to trust that death is not the final word of our existence.
Because God raised Jesus from the dead we can be assured that a resurrected, transformed life is our destiny too. St. Paul assures us in 1 Corinthians 15 that “just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,” and to make the point even more emphatically, he says, “If the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain.” Read more
Once we get past the age of hunting for colored eggs and baskets filled with candy, the true meaning of Easter emerges.
Helping instill it are the church’s rituals, services, and sensory stimulants like flowers, candles, music, and even dressed-up Massgoers who turn out in greater numbers than usual.
But different things work for different people. Read more
It is hard for an old man like me to talk about suffering. Most people I know, including me, are in charge of our lives. No matter the losses and illnesses, we still have access to care, to security, and a decent life. Suffering is not a real part of my world.
Just how far it is from my world became clear to me about a dozen years ago. I didn’t see it. I only heard about the suffering after the fact. Hearing about it was enough. Read more
The serpent’s bite was a deadly one. The venom had worked its way deep into the heart of the entire human race, doing its gruesome work.
The antivenom was unavailable until he appeared. One drop was all that was needed, so potent was this antidote. Yet it was not like him to be stingy. He poured out all he had, down to the last drop. The sacrifice of his entire life, poured out at the foot of the cross. This was Jesus’ answer to the problem of sin. Read more
When Pope Francis recently addressed 5,000 secular and Catholic journalists and media, he spoke of how the role of mass media has expanded with its indispensable ability for reporting current events. He thanked all present for their efforts to present the historic and complex events of the recent election, an arcane subject that can even stump Vaticanologists. He elaborated: “The Church does not respond to an earthly logic because the nature of the Church is spiritual, not political.”
“Christ,” he continued, “is the center and reference point at the heart of the Church; the center is not the Successor of Peter. Without Christ, Peter and the Church would not exist.” Read more