Dear parish family and friends in Christ,
Christ is Risen! Alleluia! The Easter message of joy echoes through the whole world proclaiming Our Lord‘s ultimate victory of light over darkness, grace over sin, and life over death. It is the message upon which our faith rests and to which we anchor our own hope of victory with him. In this faith and hope, I wish you and your families a most holy and blessed Easter Season!
There is something quite unique about the Easter liturgies, namely, the reality of movement—the joyful movement of going forth—that shows the Church at her best—when she goes forth! We see this in the Gospel for Easter Sunday with Peter and John running towards the empty tomb, after Mary Magdalene had run to them with the news that the Lord‘s body was no longer there! We read again, in the same Gospel, that Mary Magdalene encounters the Risen Lord outside the tomb after Peter and John had hurried off and she, in turn, runs to tell the other disciples: “I have seen the Lord!” Mary Magdalene was not only the first disciple to see the Risen Lord; she was also a missionary disciple—a running disciple—who could not contain within herself the Good News. She portrays, in a real way, the image of the Church that goes forth with a joyful message to share!
The past two years has not been a time of going forth for most of us. With the pandemic raging unstoppably through our world and ravaging our lives, leaving permanent wounds within us, we have been forced into withdrawal, sadness and fear. The current war in Ukraine has exacerbated our sense of helplessness. In this situation, some may be tempted to believe that the power of darkness now has the upper hand. Nevertheless, Easter tells us otherwise. “Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!” – “Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands”. This is the reason for our joy, our hope, and our life.
Perhaps there is nothing as hopeful and meaningful in our faith celebrations as the Solemn Easter Vigil Mass when the new Paschal Candle is brought into the darkened church. The simple light is held high and shines brightly in the darkness as a reminder that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. As people in the assembly light their small candles from the Easter Candle, one by one, the whole church becomes radiant with light, and a visible sign of hope begins radiating from each person holding his or her lighted candles. The movement of the Paschal Candle up the aisle amidst the exultant proclamations “Christ our Light!” echoing through the gradually brightened church is a uniquely powerful visual experience.
Is this not a sign of what we are called to do as we move forward through the uncertainties of these current times? Are we not called to be signs of hope as we rebuild our lives and communities after a time of so much struggle, difficulty and pain? In fact, I believe that we are already on the very doorstep of a unique experience of spiritual renewal. The lessons we have learned through suffering must play a part in this renewal, especially in our deeper appreciation of how important, beautiful and valuable our faith really is; how vital the Church is, and how necessary the Good News of Jesus Christ is to our hope. Is not our task to go forth and to proclaim the reasons for our hope—He who is symbolized by that light at the Easter Vigil?
St. Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless, and our faith too is in vain” (Cf. 1 Cor 15:14). The Resurrection is thus the foundation and cornerstone of our faith. On Easter we are called to live as people deeply touched by the Lord‘s Resurrection, those who cannot contain the Good News within themselves, and those who must run out to proclaim it. Like Mary Magdalene, Peter, John and all the disciples of Christ, may our encounter with the Risen Lord on our journey of faith touch us deeply and transform us into eager witnesses as well. May we become what St. Augustine referred to as an “Easter People”, a people changed into running disciples.
As we celebrate this most beautiful feast, I want to thank all our priests, deacons, staff, ministers, catechists, lay leaders and volunteers who have given so much time, talent and treasure throughout the season of Lent preparing for our Holy Week liturgies and devotions. Your “going forth” has certainly borne much fruit in the spiritual renewal of countless people who came through our doors. I also want to thank all members of our parish who have joined us fervently in prayer and worship. You bring a smile to your priests‘ face each time that we meet, in church and in prayer.
May the joys of Christ‘s Resurrection fill you and all your loved ones!
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham