Happy Easter! We continue to celebrate the great Solemnity of Easter and the Easter Season, the apex of our entire liturgical year. While many people are drawn to Our Lord’s birth at Christmas, it is His resurrection, where He conquered the power of sin and death and offers himself to us the pledge of eternal life, that is the ultimate expression of His mission.
I recently mentioned that “If you fear the Cross, you do not understand the Cross.” With the victory of Easter, the Cross becomes “the tree of life… The stairway of glory” (In Conversation with God, Vol. 2, “Meditation: Holy Friday – Jesus Dies on the Cross”). When we see Our Lord’s arms stretched open on the Cross, by faith we see that as His invitation to embrace us. I’ve mentioned many times of the tradition that I have of kissing the cross on my pillow when I go to bed at night and in the morning when I rise. It’s beautiful to begin and end the day in such a way. And the 50 days of Easter remind us that from the Cross flows our redemption. The resurrection of the Lord is a central reality of the Catholic faith and has been preached since the beginning of Christianity. Jesus Christ lives! And from that belief flows joy, peace, and happiness for believers. The resurrection of Christ gives meaning to our human existence beyond the grave. Christ is risen! He has truly risen! Alleluia.
Recently a number of priests have given me their “Mass count.” For example, in many respects, St. Agnes Cathedral is back to pre-COVID numbers. As I have traveled the diocese, celebrating Masses for different occasions at different parishes, I am impressed by the crowds. Of course, there will always be those who are still concerned about the virus. There are those who are still health compromised. They have permission to stay away. But for those who are going to restaurants, the local sports complex or gym, the movies, the hairdresser, school plays, etc., we encourage you to come back to church and the sacraments.
STICK OUT YOUR TONGUE!
I mentioned recently to a group of priests that people have forgotten how to receive communion on the tongue. And they all chimed in with agreement. The Church offers the option to receive Holy Communion on the hand or on the tongue. Each person can decide for themselves how to receive the Eucharist. But if you’re going to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, that implies that you are going to extend your tongue. Opening your mouth is not enough. When you just simply open your mouth, the priest/ minister of the Eucharist is forced to sort of “flick” the Sacred Host inside your mouth, which is totally disrespectful. It is called “Communion on the tongue,” and again implies that you extend your tongue so that the Sacred Host can be placed upon it. I never thought I’d have to say such a thing but I hope this serves as a reminder: Please stick out your tongue.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU
The recent request for a collection for those suffering in Ukraine illustrates the generosity of our diocese. Altogether you donated $139,930. Your generosity is amazing and I thank you! When you read of the relief offered through the Knights of Columbus in Poland and Ukraine, know that you are part of the relief effort. While we have second collections and receive many requests throughout the year to help locally or internationally, it is up to each individual as to how to participate. And for those who were not able to donate, you can certainly pray for those who suffer the violence of war.
Pray for peace through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
I am grateful to Bishop Leibrecht for celebrating the Mass of the Consecration of Russia and Ukraine on March 25 in St. Agnes Cathedral, Springfield. That same morning, I celebrated Mass in Notre Dame Regional High School in Cape Girardeau. Both Masses were well attended and it was such a beautiful moment: to be able to be united with the Holy Father asking for the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace in the Ukraine. May we never tire of turning to Our Lady, Queen of peace.