“Since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”
On behalf of The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton, Monsignor Thomas M. Muldowney, V.G., Reverend Reverend Gerald W. Shantillo, V.E., Deacon Ed Shoener and the Cathedral staff, I extend to you, and those you love, a blessed and hope-filled Easter! I extend my most heartfelt thanks for all the kind messages you have expressed, the cards you have sent, and the prayers you have offered me and my brother priests. As always, they are most appreciated, and we are humbled to be amid such caring and heartfelt friends.
Last Easter, due to the pandemic, our churches were closed, our lives were restricted, and our hope was diminished. We celebrated the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter Sunday in empty churches and often thought that what we were experiencing had no end. Thankfully, this year, we were able to welcome a number of our faithful physically back to our churches to experience the loving grace and inspiring beauty of the liturgies which we hold so dear. We give thanks to God for those who have so generously joined us via television or social media in an effort to bring Christ into their homes.
In his homily during the Vigil Mass in the Holy Night of Easter, our Holy Father, Pope Francis stated that “In the hour of darkness when humanity is grappling with the pandemic and other ills, Christians need to take to heart the Easter message of the angel not to be afraid, assured that in Galilee where the Lord precedes them, their expectations will be fulfilled, their tears will be dried and their fears will be replaced by hope.”
In these times of continuing uncertainty, we unite with one another, some virtually across social media or by television, and others physically, for the celebration of Mass. The week preceding Easter is a week filled with solemn celebrations which present to us the greatest tragedy and sorrow of the year - the crucifixion, death, and burial of Lord; yet, at the same time, Holy Week fills us with hope. The hope of the resurrection experienced by us today.
Easter is the time in the Church’s year when we experience the joy of moving from the impenetrable gloom of death, as Jesus is laid in the tomb, and witness his radiance as He is raised from the dead. God shows us his ultimate gift of mercy by bringing forth life from death. For all of us, this season is an opportunity to renew the grace of our own Baptism and to grow as grateful disciples of Jesus Christ. We are called to proclaim God’s forgiving love, inviting our brothers and sisters to salvation in the Lord. Together we are called to bring to everyone the light of the Gospel, the embrace of the Church and the tenderness of God’s loving mercy!
What happened to Jesus Christ on the cross and in the tomb two thousand years ago matters to each one of us today and always. The journey from darkness to light is one that we all experience, not just once, but at various times in life. Whatever is weighing you down at the present time – fear, anxiety, depression, or any other burden, is confronted by the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. God restores and makes all things new through His Son who is the source of our hope and joy. This is our faith, the message we proclaim through our daily witness of compassion and love.
Christ's resurrection is the true hope of our world. It does not change and it does not disappoint. We offer our gratitude to God for bringing us, once again, to celebrate this blessed feast. In a world shrouded in darkness and uncertainty, let us go forward with unceasing hope, celebrating the radiant light of Christ which each of us holds in our hearts.
I pray fervently for you, your family, and our Cathedral family and ask God to bless you and your loved ones with an abundance of Easter joy! Remember, that just as our Savior was not in the tomb when Mary Magdaline and the other Mary came looking for him, he is not in a church building. He resides in the hearts of his faithful.
He resides in your heart.
Monsignor Dale R. Rupert
Pastor, Cathedral of Saint Peter