Praised be Jesus Christ! Some years ago there was an article about a city in Turkey (Malatya) that equipped their local morgue with the latest motion detector gadgetry in case any of the bodies stored there had been declared dead by mistake. Given that today is Easter, one does wonder what such technology would have recorded had it been available the night of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. However, for those who think this would be sufficient evidence to convince our fallen world, recall Abraham’s words in Jesus’ story from the 16th chapter of Saint Luke’s Gospel: “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead,” (Luke 16:31). By the way, a very Blessed and Happy Easter to you and your loved ones! Because we’ve had a rigorous series on the Ten Commandments, you’ve earned a briefer column this week. Easter made the Sacraments possible because Jesus conquered sin and death by His Resurrection. Now we are blessed to be able to go to Mass every Sunday and even every day if we’re able and inclined to do so. As the great Jacques Bossuet once wrote, “Nothing is greater in the universe than Jesus Christ, and nothing is greater in Jesus Christ than His sacrifice.” Therefore, assisting at the Mass is the greatest human activity you can engage in during this lifetime. It’s too bad we fail to realize this and some of it is because even priests do not always believe it. There used to be a plaque in sacristies that priests were invited to read just before offering the Mass – it said, “Oh, priest of God, celebrate this Mass as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass.” Well, we priests are human and sometimes we are tired, distracted, or just not emotionally engaged. Your job is to pray for us – God knows I pray for you all the time and it’s wearing me out! Jesting aside, let me encourage you to have Masses said for your loved ones, both living or deceased. Nothing is more powerful in helping people get to Heaven than to offer a Mass for them. You can do so by calling the office and scheduling one. Keep in mind that the calendar fills quickly; we are happy to have a retired priest offer the Mass or to send them on to the missions. There is a $10.00 offering that the priest can keep or give away (many give these “stipends” away as they are taxable income). For the record, there are recommended offerings for a couple of the Sacraments: $10.00 for Baptism, and $75.00 for a Wedding Mass. These fees are put into the “Custodial Account” and are used for charitable works, such as gas and food vouchers for the needy or as donations to the Hannah Center or St. Vincent de Paul. We also use this account to help people pay for their annulments. You might be surprised at how much good your parish is doing in this community. And it all begins with the holy Mass! As G.K. Chesterton once remarked, “The Mass is long and boring, unless you really love God.”
May God bless you with the unshakeable hope of His Risen Son this Easter!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin