Celebrates Easter Sunday Mass at St. Joseph, Bluffton
By Tim Johnson
BLUFFTON — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated Easter Sunday Mass with the multitude assembled at St. Joseph Church in Bluffton. Bishop Rhoades has made it a tradition to celebrate Easter at a parish.
The days of the Easter Triduum kept Bishop Rhoades busy at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne and St. Matthew Co-Cathedral in South Bend.
At St. Joseph, Bluffton, Bishop Rhoades opened his homily with the words, “We celebrate the crowning truth of our faith. The Church sings once again ‘Alleluia,’ a Hebrew word meaning ‘God be praised.’ We praise God with great joy today as we celebrate the Resurrection of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. We celebrate today the greatest event in the history of salvation, and indeed, in the history of humanity. Easter is the Church’s greatest feast.”
Bishop Rhoades spoke of the Resurrection of Jesus in historical terms and said, “But besides being a real, historical event, the Resurrection transcends and stands above history.”
He said, “In His risen body, Jesus passed from death to another life beyond time and space. His risen body was indeed the same body that had been been tortured and crucified. In fact, it still bore the traces of His Passion. Yet, it was radically new, a glorious body, not limited by space and time, not subject to physical restrictions. It belonged to a new realm, the realm of eternity.”
Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Rhoades said, “called Christ’s resurrection ‘the greatest mutation, absolutely the most crucial leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development: a leap into a completely new order which does concern us, and concerns the whole of history.’”
The bishop continued to relate the pope’s words: “The Resurrection is a cosmic event, which includes heaven and earth and links them together.”
Bishop Rhoades said, “… it is clear that the Resurrection of Jesus is not just some miracle from the past, something of indifference to us. It makes all the difference in the world. Without it, our faith would be meaningless. Because of it, we live in Christ. We become one in Christ. As Pope Benedict puts it: “The great explosion of the Resurrection has seized us in Baptism so as to draw us on.” Amid the challenges and sufferings of life, and even in the midst of the greatest trials, including death, we live in hope. We live our life in Christ, as a journey of faith, the way of the cross, yes, but the triumphant and victorious cross of the Risen Jesus. This is the joy of Easter. …”
After Mass at a reception in the parish center, John Horn, parish council member, presented the bishop with a check for $1,000 on behalf of the parish for the Franciscan Brothers Minor education fund.
Bishop Rhoades celebrated the Easter Vigil Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. At the Mass, candidates and catechumens joined the Catholic Church.
Bishop Rhoades quoted St. Augustine who called the Easter Vigil, “’the mother of all vigils,’ for this is the night when Christ Jesus broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave. So the Church keeps watch, awaiting the resurrection of Christ and celebrating it in the sacraments.”
The accounts of the women at the empty tomb and angel speaking to them bring a feeling of quiet joy. “The Gospel tells us that they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed,” Bishop Rhoades said.
He offered: “Perhaps those are the feelings of our catechumens and candidates here this evening — half-overjoyed and half-fearful. Overjoyed that their journey of faith tonight reaches a climax in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Overjoyed to join the Church founded by Christ on the rock of St. Peter’s confession of faith. Overjoyed that the Spirit of God finds a dwelling place in their hearts and that they will receive the Lord’s Body and Blood as spiritual food and drink for the first time.”
He said in his homily, “But maybe they are also experiencing something of the women’s fear — fear because their lives become changed. The future presents new challenges to them and to all of us who are persons of faith. Conversion means a deepening of our relationship to God who calls us to a new life of service to Him and commitment to His Church. We are called to a self-sacrificing love in union with the heart of Christ. We must always look to the example of Jesus, whose love was so great that it led Him to the supreme act of self-emptying on Calvary. His love is so amazing, so divine, that it demands our soul, our life, our all. St. Paul says that ‘If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Christ.’ Yes, Jesus will raise us up if we follow Him with love to the cross.”
During the Liturgy of Baptism, Bishop Rhoades baptized nine. And later, Bishop confirmed those baptized neophytes and one additional man who joined the Catholic Church. The ten made their First Holy Communions at the Mass.
Holy Thursday and Good Friday
Earlier in the week at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop Rhoades said, “The events of the Last Supper, the Passion and death of Jesus, and His Resurrection are at the very core of our faith. We celebrate the mystery of faith that we proclaim after the consecration at every Mass, words which will become even clearer when the new English translation comes out in a few years. ‘We announce your death, O Lord, and we proclaim your resurrection, until you come in glory.’
“The whole Paschal mystery celebrated in the Easter Triduum was foreshadowed at the Last Supper,” Bishop Rhoades said. “It is appropriate that the Triduum begins with this Mass of the Lord’s Supper in which we remember the amazing gift Christ entrusted to His Church, the gift which makes present until the end of the world the Paschal mystery of Christ. That gift is, of course, the Holy Eucharist instituted on this holy night.”
Bishop Rhoades washed the feet of seminarians during the Mass.
Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper concludes with a procession of the Holy Eucharist from the cathedral to the St. Theodore Guérin Chapel. Each participant carried a small candle in the procession.
At the Good Friday celebration of the Lord’s Passion at St. Matthew Co-Cathedral, he said in his homily, “Jesus’ mission was accomplished on Good Friday. That is why we call today ‘Good.’ It is the day that Jesus defeated sin and overcame evil with the power of love. And so, he was able to say ‘tetelestai,’ it is fulfilled. He had obediently fulfilled the will of His Father. He had accomplished the work God had given Him to do: the work of redemption. His love had conquered hate. His goodness had triumphed over evil, though this would not be clear to His disciples until Easter Sunday morning. But Jesus knew it when he said ‘tetelestai,’ ‘it is accomplished.’ He knew he had won for us eternal redemption, that he had become, as the author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote, ‘the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.’”
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