April 11, 2020 Column Father De Celles

Blessed and Happy Easter! Well, this is an Easter different than any I can remember. But it IS EASTER! The day Jesus Christ truly rose from the dead, the day of our salvation.

Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere! Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

          Even in the midst of the fear and stress of the coronavirus quarantine (whatever we call it), let this be a day of joyful celebration in your homes and lives. Remember, Jesus can conquer even death, He can conquer all of our problems—If Jesus is for us, “who can be against us.”

          This has been an extra hard Lent on all of us. I know it has been for me. But I want to thank our parish staff for making it so much easier than it might have been. Thanks especially to Tom Browne, Luis Tapia and Dania Ochoa, for handling so adroitly all the cleaning and hygiene problems they were presented with. Thanks to Fr. Willard for all the confessions he heard, or waited to hear.

Thanks also to all of you who keep striving to stay close to Jesus and the parish by signing up for adoration and joining me for Mass every day online. I don’t know what I’ll be doing about livestreaming Masses in the coming weeks, but I think it has been a useful tool these last few weeks.

Let us keep each other in prayer, and hold tight to the hope of the Risen Christ.

Some Great News, For A Change. You will recall that several months ago I wrote about what seemed to me the unjust conviction on child abuse charges of Cardinal George Pell in Australia. Well on Monday, the Highest Court of Australia unanimously overturned the conviction and ordered him acquitted of all charges. Best news I’ve heard in a long time. Everyone knows I’m 100% in favor of rooting out the bad priests and bishops, but at the same time we have to protect the rights of priests, especially innocent priests. As the National Catholic Reporter wrote, in part:

“After an ordeal that began nearly four years ago, and more than 13 months of imprisonment, Cardinal George Pell is expected to be released from prison imminently, after his conviction for five alleged counts of sexual abuse was overturned Tuesday by Australia’s High Court. [note: he was released on Tuesday]…

“‘The High Court found that the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted, and ordered that the convictions be quashed and that verdicts of acquittal be entered in their place,’ the court said in a judgment summary April 7…

“At issue in the appeal was whether the jury that convicted Cardinal Pell in December 2018 of sexually abusing two choristers could have plausibly found Pell guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, having heard the case presented by the prosecutors and the defense mounted by Cardinal Pell’s lawyers….

“The Court’s April 7 release added that ‘The unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses was inconsistent with the complainant’s account, and described: (i) the applicant’s practice of greeting congregants on or near the Cathedral steps after Sunday solemn Mass; (ii) the established and historical Catholic church practice that required that the applicant, as an archbishop, always be accompanied when robed in the Cathedral; and (iii) the continuous traffic in and out of the priests’ sacristy for ten to 15 minutes after the conclusion of the procession that ended Sunday solemn Mass.’”

Pope Francis, Text of Video Message for Holy Week 2020.

Dear friends, good evening!

          This evening I have the chance to enter your homes in a different way than usual. If you allow me, I would like to have a conversation with you for a few moments, in this time of difficulty and of suffering. I can imagine you and your families, living an unusual life to avoid contagion. I am thinking of the liveliness of children and young people, who cannot go out, attend school, live their lives. I have in my heart all the families, especially those who have a loved one who is sick or who have unfortunately experienced mourning due to the coronavirus or other causes. These days I often think about people who are alone, and for whom it is more difficult to face these moments. Above all I think of the elderly, who are very dear to me.

          I cannot forget those who are sick with coronavirus, people who are in [the] hospital. I am aware of the generosity of those who put themselves at risk for the treatment of this pandemic or to guarantee the essential services to society. So many heroes, every day, at every hour! I also remember how many are in financial straits and are worried about work and the future. A thought also goes out to prison inmates, whose pain is compounded by fear of the epidemic, for themselves and their loved ones; I think of the homeless, who do not have a home to protect them.

          It is a difficult time for everyone. For many, very difficult. The Pope knows this and, with these words, he wants to tell everyone of his closeness and affection. Let us try, if we can, to make the best use of this time: let us be generous; let us help those in need in our neighbourhood; let us look out for the loneliest people, perhaps by telephone or social networks; let us pray to the Lord for those who are in difficulty in Italy and in the world. Even if we are isolated, thought and spirit can go far with the creativity of love. This is what we need today: the creativity of love. This is what is needed today: the creativity of love.

          We will celebrate Holy Week in a truly unusual way, which manifests and sums up the message of the Gospel, that of God’s boundless love. And in the silence of our cities, the Easter Gospel will resound. The Apostle Paul says: “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him Who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor 5:15). In the risen Jesus, life conquered death. This Paschal faith nourishes our hope. I would like to share it with you this evening. It is the hope of a better time, in which we can be better, finally freed from evil and from this pandemic. It is a hope: hope does not disappoint; it is not an illusion, it is a hope.

          Beside each other, in love and patience, we can prepare a better time in these days. Thank you for allowing me into your homes. Make a gesture of tenderness towards those who suffer, towards children, and towards the elderly. Tell them that the Pope is close and pray, that the Lord will soon deliver us all from evil. And you, pray for me. Have a good dinner. See you soon!

Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles