April 7, 2010 // Diocese

Bishop Rhoades celebrates Chrism, Triduum and Easter celebrations

Bishop visits Arcola parish on Easter

Visit our photo gallery for photos from the Holy Week Celebrations

ARCOLA — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades greeted parishioners at St. Patrick Parish in Arcola on Easter Sunday saying, “It is such a joy to be here with you.”

He confided that he had long planned to visit one of his new diocese’s “ordinary” parishes on Easter Sunday. And the St. Patrick community turned out to welcome him with full houses at both the church and the adjoining parish hall in response.
Bishop Rhoades began his homily by reminding his listeners of the Easter story with words that he said have formed the core of the Church’s teaching throughout the centuries, familiar words describing the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord.
But Easter Sunday celebrates the key moment, the Resurrection, he said, and the message is precisely the same as that proclaimed by St. Peter so long ago.

Just as Jesus was buried and rose from the dead, today his faithful people also rise from sin through Baptism into new life.
Bishop Rhoades noted that Pope Benedict XVI recently affirmed that Jesus lives and walks before us as one who is alive so we can walk the path of life. We rejoice because Jesus belongs to the living, not to the dead, he pointed out.

The bishop remarked that more than 500 people joined the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil, proving that the Catholic faith is alive and well in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Most received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist.

Bishop Rhoades reflected on the sacraments in connection with the holiday. Easter is a good day to think about the effects of Baptism, he said, as we walk with Christ on our journey toward lasting joy. We receive the Holy Spirit in Confirmation so as to bear witness to him. But the climax of the Easter celebration is Holy Eucharist, the greatest of the Easter sacraments. Christ becomes our new life each time we receive Communion, he said.

Though Christ died and rose from the dead centuries ago, the sacraments bring the event of His resurrection into the present, said Bishop Rhoades in conclusion. And Easter is a vivid reminder of the everyday presence of Christ in our lives.

Easter Vigil
At the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop Rhoades began the liturgy with the blessing of the Easter fire and lighting of the Paschal candle.

In his homily he noted, “Our procession into this darkened cathedral behind the Paschal candle symbolized our journey of faith through darkness into light, the light of Christ. Indeed all of human history, like the Israelites’ journey through the desert to the Promised Land, is a journey seeking light, seeking paradise, seeking true happiness and peace. Where do we find it? The answer is a Person: the Lord Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead.”

Bishop Rhoades recalled how St. Augustine referred to the Easter Vigil as the “mother of all vigils” in which “we commemorate that holy night when our Lord rose from the dead.”

He highlighted three aspects about the vocation of disciples of the Risen Lord. Number one: following Christ means being attentive to His words. Number two: following Christ means obeying His commandments. And number 3: following Christ means loving His Mystical Body, the Church.

Bishop Rhoades celebrated the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist at the vigil. At the cathedral parish, four were baptized, and six received Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.

Bishop Rhoades spoke in the homily, “On this holy night, our catechumens will pass from death to life through the waters of Baptism. All of us who already received Baptism will renew our baptismal promises. Our candidates and catechumens will be strengthened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation and nourished by Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist. These wonderful Easter sacraments help us to follow Christ more closely. We rejoice that the Lord Jesus has risen from the dead and that He shares with us the gift of eternal life.”

Chrism Mass
Earlier in Holy Week, celebrations included the Chrism Mass, first in South Bend at St. Matthew Cathedral on Monday and then in Fort Wayne at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Tuesday.

At Chrism Mass, Bishop Rhoades thanked Bishop John M. D’Arcy for “your presence and for your continuing devoted ministry here in our diocese.” And in South Bend, Bishop Rhoades also thanked Father David Tyson, the provincial superior of the Holy Cross Fathers, and all the Holy Cross Fathers and Holy Cross Brothers, and all the religious sisters present.

Priests renew their commitment to priestly service at the Mass. With priests and diocesan seminarians present, Bishop Rhoades said in his homily, “As many of you know, one of my highest priorities as your new bishop is promoting priestly vocations. This should in no way be perceived as a neglect of the great need for an increase of vocations to the consecrated life, which is also a high priority and very close to my heart. Nor should it be perceived as a lack of attention to the great dignity and beauty of the vocation of marriage, the promotion of which is also one of my highest priorities. But the Chrism Mass is particularly focused on the gift of the ministerial priesthood, and thus I am focusing this evening on the priestly vocation. I am convinced in the bottom of my heart that God is calling many young men throughout our diocese to the ministerial priesthood, to become living icons of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, the head and shepherd of the Church.”

The Chrism Mass includes the Rite of the Blessing of Oils and Consecrating the Chrism. These oils are used for the newly baptized, the anointing of the sick and for those to be confirmed. The sacred chrism is also used at priestly and episcopal ordinations.

Holy Thursday
Bishop Kevin Rhoades presided over his first Holy Thursday Mass at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend. He called on all in attendance to recall the eternal sacrifice and love of Jesus Christ.

Jesus loved his own until the end and demonstrated how to serve others. His act was an expression of his commandment to love one another as I have loved you. When Jesus became man he cast aside Divine Glory and he took the form of a slave.

Bishop Rhoades’ homily spoke of remembering, “the Last Supper, the beginning of the drama of the Paschal Mystery, when our Lord instituted the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and the ordained priesthood. It is no mere coincidence nor an incidental aside that Jesus knelt before the Apostles and washed their dirty feet.

“When Jesus came into the world, God descended and became a servant, a slave, in taking on, or assuming, our human nature,” Bishop Rhoades continued. “When his hour had come, He showed us again the humility of His Incarnation which now reached its climax in the humility of the Redemption. This is why He had come. His redemptive Passion was the very reason for His Incarnation. In the washing of the disciples’ feet, the entire mystery of Jesus Christ is expressed. In this, what redemption means becomes visible.”

Bishop Rhoades spoke how God continues to wash our dirty feet: “He cleanses us in the sacraments of Baptism and Penance. He is continually on His knees at our feet, carrying out for us the service of a slave, the service of purification, which makes us capable of receiving God’s grace. Why else would He say to the protesting Peter, ‘Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.’”
“We are sinners — we need His cleansing,” Bishop Rhoades said. “That’s why Jesus tells Peter that His washing of his feet was necessary for him to share in Jesus’ inheritance, which is eternal life. Jesus is referring to the necessity of His death. His death brings us our heritage with Him and cleanses us of sins. And, of course, this becomes actual for us through the purifying sacraments of Baptism and Penance.”

Good Friday
Good Friday Service opened in solemnity as Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, along with Deacon Andrew Budzinski, Msgr. Robert Schulte, vicar general of the diocese and retired Father Paul Bueter, processed to the unadorned sanctuary of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. The clergy then prostrated themselves before the altar as the congregation knelt in prayer.

Following the reading of the Passion narrative, the bishop, in his homily, told the packed cathedral that Good Friday was the only day of the Church year that Mass was not celebrated, but “… We gather to meditate on the Passion and Death of Our Lord. … On this day we contemplate Jesus with his arms extended on the cross.”

He went on to describe the crucifixion scene and reminded the faithful that Jesus never lost His freedom or  true dignity as He followed His Father’s will. “He hung on the cross courageously, intent on fulfilling the mission His Father entrusted to Him, the mission of redemption. He freely embraced in His human will the Father’s will, His Father’s love for us. On the cross, He trusted in His Father. He endured the insults and calumnies of His persecutors. And, most remarkably, He forgave them. He never stopped exercising His ministry of mercy.”

Jesus, during His ministry and Passion, said Bishop Rhoades, teaches us to love even our enemies. “He teaches us by his example what He had earlier taught in words to the disciples: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” — Luke 6:27-28. Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if we Christians really obeyed those words?” questioned the bishop.

Bishop Rhoades went on to contemplate Mary’s pain at watching helplessly as her Son died upon the cross. He said, “On the cross, Jesus entrusted St. John and all of us, indeed all Christians, to Mary and her maternal care when He said, “Woman, behold your son.” We can always turn to her, especially in times of pain and sorrow. Our Lady of Sorrows was there at the foot of the cross and she is with us in all the sorrows of our life. She is our spiritual mother, a beautiful gift to us from Jesus on the cross. John took Mary into his home. I hope we all do the same.”

Good Friday, which fell this year on the fifth anniversary of the death Pope John Paul II, is the day when Jesus accomplished His mission. “He had accomplished the Father’s will. He accomplished our redemption. He loved us to the end. And that love revealed so dramatically in the crucifixion has brought the greatest blessing to humanity: reconciliation with God, salvation, redemption. The truth of this victory of love would become evident on the third day when Jesus rose from the dead. That’s why we call this day Good Friday,” said Bishop Rhoades.

After explaining that veneration of the cross was not an empty gesture but a sign of our love for Jesus who suffered and died for us, Bishop Rhoades concluded by saying, “Jesus said from the cross, ‘I thirst.’ He still thirsts — He thirsts for our love.”

Deacon Budzinski, who is preparing to be ordained into the priesthood this summer, chanted the General Intercession to which the bishop responded in prayer. Following the procession of the cross, Bishop Rhoades removed his outer vestments and shoes to venerate the cross, after which the congregation followed. The cross was then laid at the foot of the altar before the Eucharistic celebration and closing prayer completed the solemn ceremony. Bishop Rhoades and the attending clergy processed out of the sunlit cathedral in silence.

Bonnie Elberson, Mark Weber, Kay Cozad, Trish Linner, Diane Freeby and Tim Johnson contributed to this roundup story.

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