April 18, 2020 Column Father De Celles

Happy Easter. Today we celebrate the 8th day of the Octave of Easter, or the Second Sunday of Easter. The feast of Easter is so magnificent it merits 8 full days of full celebration. I have to say, though, looking back at the Easter Triduum, this was not my happiest Triduum. It was so strange to celebrate the beautiful liturgies of those days without you here with me. I know many of you were there “virtually,” through our livestreaming, but it’s just not the same. Even so, Easter is what it is, with or without us. And the power of the Resurrection resounds in the lives of all who are open to the grace Jesus wishes to give us. Usually I have a long list of folks to thank for making the Triduum liturgies beautiful. This year, sadly that list is short, because I wasn’t able to allow many to help. But I do want to thank those who were able to pitch in. I especially thank Tom Browne for covering the images in the church (especially the new murals) and Mary Butler for sewing the new huge veils to cover the new murals. Also, thanks to Julie Mullen for doing her best to decorate with flowers, given the limited resources currently available, and to Nena Brennan for her assistance as sacristan. Also, a big thanks to the lectors who volunteered to read during the liturgies: Brenda Doroski, Patty Pacheco, Martha Hurley, Jeff Gribschaw, Lorraine Hoppe, and Scott Staron. And I also want to thank the Altar Servers who volunteered. I don’t know if you noticed, but all of the Servers were actually college students who have graduated from serving Mass in the parish over the last few years, but answered my call to “come back” to serve the Triduum (I didn’t want to impose any risk on the younger boys). It did my heart good to have these young men back in sanctuary, and they did the excellent job I knew they would. Thanks to Jacob Berger, Jarod Slaton, Christophe Sanchez-O’Brien, Louis Hatcher, Joseph Hatcher, James Drouillard, Michael Weyrich and Brendan Kapp. And finally, thanks to the parish staff for all they have been doing, and the risks that they insisted on taking, to serve you and me during this pandemic. Livestreaming. I will continue to livestream my private Masses until the restriction on public Masses is lifted. I’m glad it seems to be helpful to many of you. But I do share the concern that some of my brother priests have suggested: that some of you might get used to this and consider it an adequate replacement for the real thing, i.e., attending Mass in the church in person. I think most of you see, know and even feel the difference, and would never trade “virtual attendance” at Mass for real attendance at Mass. Of course, the former does not fulfill the obligation of attending Sunday Mass (an obligation the bishop has waived only for this pandemic time). But the reason for that is key: to oversimplify, just as Jesus is not merely virtually present in the Eucharist, we should not be merely virtually present to Him at Mass. He and His sacrifice are really truly present in the Mass, just as He was really truly present in the manger in Bethlehem and on the Cross on Calvary and in the upper room on the evening of the Resurrection. And we must be really present to Him, if we are able. I think most of you will find the depravation of your real presence at Masses as an inspiration to more profoundly appreciate and participate in Mass when public Masses are allowed again. But some of you might allow yourself to be confused. Please, don’t be. Divine Mercy Sunday. This Sunday is also called “Divine Mercy Sunday.” This title is relatively new, established only in the year 2000 by Pope St. John Paul II, in recognition of the ineffable mercy that flows from the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. The Pope was inspired to make this designation by the writings of St. Faustina Kowalska, a polish nun who claimed that Jesus Himself had requested this during His private apparitions to her during the 1930s. The Lord reportedly also told St. Faustina: “I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.” Although private apparitions/revelations such as this need not be believed or accepted by Catholics, they are often recognized by the Church as “worthy of belief.” That is so in this case, and the private promises of remission of punishment on this Sunday has been echoed by the Church which has officially established a plenary indulgence for this Sunday: “…granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”)” Many people ask me when you must go to confession to receive the indulgence. The Church has officially decreed: “within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act.” For a good, brief explanation of indulgences in general, I recommend the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1471ff. Many people are also concerned this year because they will not be able to receive Holy Communion, as is required for this indulgence. But the original papal decree granting the indulgence stated, “all who for a just cause cannot leave their homes or who carry out an activity for the community which cannot be postponed, may obtain a plenary indulgence on Divine Mercy Sunday, if …[they have] the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions [sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff],….” So, you can receive the indulgence without receiving Communion if you intend to receive Communion as soon as the Church permits it. Easter Continues. Remember, the Season of Easter continues until Pentecost Sunday, May 31. This reminds us not only of the historical reality of the Risen Christ’s physical presence on earth after the Resurrection, but also that in the midst of all the sins, temptations, sufferings, and fears of life, we keep our hearts fixed on the fact and grace of the Risen Christ. Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles