From the Hermitage
Monday of Easter Week
Surely I prayed yesterday for all of us with the intention that the genuine joy in its fullest sense may have settled our hearts! Peace and joy are the most significant gifts from the Holy Spirit for us.
Now for several weeks our first reading will be taken from the writings of St. Luke, the Acts of the Apostles. These words and remembrances from the Evangelist may help in understanding the beginning days of this church that we call our Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps at the outset of the Easter season taking time to read the Acts from start to finish may be what we need to seal any thoughts about post-Lent resolutions.
It is always a joy to celebrate Easter Sunday morning Masses: the congregations are usually filled with a lively heart. The greetings received after Mass relate a spiritual excitement. The liturgy and the "message" in the homily along with a filled church make for a strong celebration. People want to be happy. Pray-ers like to celebrate not the ending of Lent but the sense of accomplishment. Some forty days of dedicated prayer and other spiritual activities need to be concluded with joy: what is a cake without icing!
Despite the tiredness most priest experience by the time we reach the dismissal of the last Mass for the Sunday of all Sundays, there is a sense not only of "job well done by all in the parish," but there is finally a time for some quiet reflection after experiencing the power of the Sacred Triduum.
The joy experienced in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is truly a blessing. There were many hours of "hearing" sins, failures, disappointment, hatred, loss of control, feelings of hurting God. Yet, so often after a few simple words, hopefully stirring up once again a realization of the gift of forgiveness, there is always a sense of humble gratitude to a loving and caring God. It is a feeling that is heard so clearly in three simple words: "Thank you, Father." It is also the tone driven by a heart that has encountered a forgiving God, a loving Father.
In the days of this Easter week, join me in a daily recap of the experiences that you have felt in your heart during times of Lenten quiet and prayer. Consider what "happened" to you as a result of your prayer, as a consequence of opening up your heart in the effort of reconciliation with God. Examine the thoughts you might remember from the 40 days of reflection -- or whatever number of days you may have taken time to be with God.
May The Lord's presence be the gift of Easter for you again or, perhaps, as you have not experienced it before.
Oremus pro invicem!