April 6, 2010 // Uncategorized

Jesus is alive and He is the light of the world

The peace and joy of the Risen Jesus be with you! We are now in the season of Easter, a celebration of 50 days which ends on Pentecost Sunday. I hope you all had a happy and blessed Easter Sunday. Prayerful best wishes to all who were baptized and/or received the sacraments of Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil! It is a beautiful sign of the vibrant life of the Church in our diocese that nearly 500 adults were baptized or received into the full communion of the Catholic Church this Easter.

This is the most joyful season of the liturgical year. Throughout these 50 days, we celebrate the glorious mystery of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The Paschal Candle stands lit in our sanctuaries during the Easter season, a visible reminder that Jesus is alive and that He is the light of the world.

South Bend area priests renew their commitment to priestly service at the Mass at St. Matthew on March 29.

Holy Week
My first Holy Week as bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend was a memorable one. I was very edified to see our two cathedrals filled to capacity for the two beautiful Chrism Masses during Holy Week. I was blessed to celebrate Mass on Wednesday of Holy Week at Holy Cross House in South Bend, where many retired Holy Cross priests and brothers live. It was inspiring for me to meet so many of these devoted men, many of whom have served in the foreign missions, in Bangladesh and other places around the world.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades washes the feet of seminarian Royce Gregorson at the Holy Thursday Mass at St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend, on April 1.

The beauty of the liturgies during the Easter Triduum remains in my thoughts these days. I celebrated the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. Matthew Cathedral and the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion and the Easter Vigil at Immaculate Conception Cathedral. I thank Msgr. Heintz, Msgr. Schulte, the choirs of both cathedrals, and all who served in any way at these sacred liturgies. In a special way, I thank Mr. James Fitzpatrick for serving as master of ceremonies.

Easter Sunday
As was my custom in Harrisburg, I celebrated Easter Sunday Mass in one of the other parish churches of the diocese: St. Patrick’s in Arcola. This parish, just 25 minutes or so from my residence, was a great place to celebrate Mass on Easter Sunday. I thank Father Alex Dodrai, the pastor, and all the people of St. Patrick’s for their warm welcome. After the beautiful liturgy, I had the opportunity to greet the many parishioners who were present. When I entered the parish hall after Mass, I was surprised to be greeted by a group of children who sang a beautiful prayer of blessing for me. I met parishioners who are lifelong members of St. Patrick’s and some who even had ancestors who built the church back in the 19th century. St. Patrick’s is truly an historic parish, and also one that is growing today with many young families. The beautiful church stands in the middle of open fields. It was a breezy and sunny day, perfect weather for Easter Sunday.

Easter season
We have completed our Lenten penance. I hope the Lenten season was a time of grace for you. The season of Easter is also a time of grace. It is a time of new life, not only in the world of nature, but also in our spiritual lives. Today I was meditating on a passage from the first letter of St. Peter. I offer these words of Peter for your reflection:

“Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, He who in His great mercy gave us new birth; a birth unto hope which draws its life from the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; a birth to an imperishable inheritance, incapable of fading or defilement, which is kept in heaven for you who are guarded with God’s power through faith; a birth to a salvation which stands ready to be revealed in the last days.

There is cause for rejoicing here. You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials; but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ appears. Although you have never seen Him, you love Him, and without seeing you now believe in Him, and rejoice with inexpressible joy touched with glory because you are achieving faith’s goal, your salvation” — 1 Peter 1:3-9.

St. Peter encourages us to bear sufferings with joy. He encourages us to cultivate the virtue of hope. In these days of trial for the Church, I find St. Peter’s words consoling and uplifting. They remind us that our hope draws its life from Christ’s Resurrection. The Risen Christ is our hope! We believe in Him and we love Him, even though we have not seen Him. And, yes, we can rejoice because He is our Savior, our Risen Savior. Our faith and our hope are always centered in Him!

During this Easter season, may you experience the grace of the Lord’s Resurrection and new strength in living as his faithful disciples!

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