Dear Parish Family,
When Pope Benedict left the Chair of Peter, in one of his last public addresses he said firmly and joyfully "the Church is alive!" As I have been caught up these last days watching and taking part in my own way, I see its' absolutely true; the Church is alive!
The crowds of people waiting for sometimes hours in St. Peters' Square, while waving national flags, singing songs and cheering and praying in the rain all testified to the truth that indeed we have a Church alive.
Do you remember where you were when you heard the news? I do. When the white smoke billowed and the bells in St. Peter's rang announcing a new pope had been elected, the atmosphere at Sacred Heart Seminary changed. The afternoon class I was attending was interrupted by the screams and shouts of some college seminarians running down the hallway. The Rector addressed the Seminary by intercom inviting the whole community to turn on the live stream televisions to watch the events unfolding in Rome. It was nearly an hour from the time the announcement was made and the time that Cardinal Camerlengo appeared to make the ancient announcement "Habemus Papam." The emotion was electric during that hour that we waited. We prayed to Mary, Mother of the Church for whoever it would be to step out on the balcony. I realized in that time how much I love the Church and I am so thankful to be Catholic and to be living my life as a priest at this time in history. I had a sense of Christ's promise; "I will be with you." When Pope Francis appeared, I felt sure God is watching His Church!
I sensed a supernatural moment was taking place; God was reaching us in time to encourage us onward through all the difficult and painful crisis of our day, to something new and better and eternal. We are reminded in this new time of the Church that we are forever young in God and we are just beginning to accomplish what He has set out to do in each one us. The Church has existed for twenty centuries, but today She is even younger than before because of the inexhaustible resources that flow from the Breath of the Holy Spirit. The Church would have dried up centuries ago if we had to rely on human strength, ingenuity and resources. The truth is that the Church is the Bride of Christ, the Mystical Body, the People of God in procession to eternity! And today is a new day on that mystical journey!
During this new moment in the Church let us set out in hope and boldness. My wish and prayer for all of us is that we set out again with new conviction in our journey with Christ. Let us throw off any baggage we have collected that does not give God glory; our compromises, our doubt, our cynicism, or pride. Let us see this new time as a grace for the whole Church; especially as we turn our thoughts and mind to Holy Week and Easter. This holy season of the year is God's new opportunity for us to see our new opportunities. The life force of the Church which springs forth from the crucified and now living Christ gives all of us a new chance!
I invite everyone to come and celebrate the Holy Week. Let the celebrations of our faith transform our inner mind and heart and begin again with God.
I look forward to seeing you at the Triduum services and Easter Sunday!
In the heart of Christ,