April 24, 2011

April 24, 2011 Column Father De Celles

Father’s Letter April 24, 2011 – Easter

He is risen! He is truly risen!” What a glorious day when Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and opens paradise and eternal life to all those who follow him. I want to take this opportunity to personally, and on behalf of Fr. Pilon and Fr. Peter, wish all of you a glorious, joyful, holy and happy Easter. But this celebration is not ours alone. The joy of Easter is the joy of the whole Universal Church. So today, let’s hear from the pastor of the whole Church, Pope Benedict XVI:

“Et resurrexit tertia die secundum Scripturas – On the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures”. …Every year, in the “Most Holy Triduum of the Crucified, dead and Risen Christ”, as St Augustine calls it, the Church relives the last events of Jesus’ earthly life in an atmosphere of prayer and penance: his condemnation to death, his ascent to Calvary carrying the Cross, his sacrifice for our salvation, being laid in the tomb. Then on the “third day” the Church relives his Resurrection: it is the Passover, Jesus’ passing from death to life in which the ancient prophecies were completely fulfilled. The entire liturgy of the Easter Season sings the certitude and joy of Christ’s Resurrection.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must constantly renew our adherence to Christ who died and rose for us: his Passover is also our Passover because in the Risen Christ we are given the certainty of our own resurrection. The news of his being raised from the dead never ages and Jesus is alive for ever; and his Gospel is alive. “The faith of Christians”, St Augustine observed, “is the Resurrection of Christ”. The Acts of the Apostles explain it clearly: “God has given assurance to all men by raising him [Jesus] from the dead” (17: 31). Indeed, his death did not suffice to demonstrate that Jesus is truly the Son of God, the awaited Messiah. How many people in the course of history devoted their lives to a cause they deemed right and died for it! And dead they remained. The Lord’s death reveals the immense love with which he loved us, to the point of sacrificing himself for us; but his Resurrection alone is our “assurance”, the certainty that what he said is the truth which also applies for us, for all times. In raising Jesus, the Father glorified him. In his Letter to the Romans St Paul wrote: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (10: 9).

It is important to reaffirm this fundamental truth of our faith whose historical veracity is amply documented even if today, as in the past, there are many who in various ways cast doubt on it or even deny it. The enfeeblement of faith in the Resurrection of Jesus results in weakening the witness of believers. In fact, should the Church’s faith in the Resurrection weaken, everything will come to a halt, everything will disintegrate. On the contrary, the adherence of heart and mind to the dead and Risen Christ changes the life and brightens the entire existence of people and peoples. Is it not the certainty that Christ is risen which instills courage, prophetic daring and perseverance in martyrs of every epoch? Is it not the encounter with the living Jesus that converts and fascinates so many men and women who from the beginnings of Christianity have continued to leave all things to follow him and put their own lives at the service of the Gospel? “If Christ has not been raised”, the Apostle Paul said, “then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (I Cor 15: 14). But he was raised!

The proclamation we listen to constantly in these days is exactly this: Jesus is risen, he is the Living One and we can encounter him; just as the women who had gone to the tomb met him on the third day, the day after the Sabbath; just as the disciples encountered him, surprised and dismayed by what the women had told them; just as so many other witnesses met him during the days following his Resurrection. And after his Ascension, …[i]llumined by the Holy Spirit, the members of the early Church began to proclaim the announcement of Easter openly and fearlessly. And this announcement, passed on from one generation to the next, has come down to us and every year at Easter rings out with ever new power. (General Audience, March 26 2008)

Brent Society. I have the honor of being the Moderator of the Brent Society, which, as many of you may recall, last May honored Fr. Gould at its annual dinner with its “Bishop Thomas J. Welsh Distinguished Service Award.” This year this award will be going to Ken Cuccinelli, Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia, for his outstanding example of Catholicism in the public square. Please consider joining us on the evening of Monday, May 16, 2011.

Angelus Academy. St. Raymond’s parishioners have long-time close ties to Angelus Academy in Springfield–parish Masses were offered there for several years before the church was completed and approximately 40% of Angelus’ students are currently St. Raymond parishioners. In the coming months, Angelus will be moving to a new location much closer to our parish, as they plan to purchase their own free-standing building at 7644 Dynatech Court in Springfield, with lots of room for future growth. But Angelus is not a rich school with a huge endowment, so they need to raise a considerable sum of money from private donations. I encourage you to consider supporting this effort as generously as you can.

Father Peter. As you may have heard, Fr. Peter Odhiambo will be leaving the parish on May 9 after nearly two years. Having finished his STL course work at the John Paul II Institute Fr. Peter has decided to move to a more rural location to complete his dissertation—to St. John’s in Warrenton with Fr. Gould. I can’t say enough to thank Fr. Peter for all his hard work in the parish, and for his personal help to me these last nine months. I’ll have more to say about this in the next few weeks, but for now let me invite you all to join us in “farewell social” for Fr. Peter on Sunday, May 8th after the 12:15 Mass. More info will follow in next week’s bulletin.

Oremus pro invicem! Fr. De Celles