This is a great time of the year. The joy of Easter continues. We all had a great sight this past Sunday when our Masses were filled to capacity.
As I looked among the faces in the pews, many were unfamiliar to me. I thought about all the reasons they might have for being at Mass. Some probably came out of obligation, but still they were there. And we have an obligation to continue to reach out to them. I thought about what we might do to better draw them in and keep them there. What more could we do to welcome them and make it easier for them to return?
At the Easter Vigil the night before, we had a very joyous celebration in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton. In the crowd, there were many college-aged men and women, and many of their friends were there as well. I couldn’t help but think about the efforts of our college campus ministries and how that night, we saw how relevant faith is in the lives of these young men and women. Usually, the stories we hear and read about young people and their going to church are not all that positive.
As the Easter Vigil celebration began, we stood outside the cathedral in darkness around the blazing fire and heard beautiful new prayers about light and Christ rising from the darkness of death. People are still seeking that Light. Then, almost as if still stumbling in the darkness, we entered the cathedral led by one single flame. The light spread until the church was ablaze in light and we heard the beautiful praises of Christ’s Light chanted in the Exultet. It is a shame that this very powerful experience is not shared by more people. The liturgy really does tell our whole story of our salvation, and watching the faces, especially of those being received into the Church through the Sacraments of Initiation, was definitely a sign of the power of Christ’s Light.
A few hours earlier that day, the Holy Father had spoken on the same theme. He said, “’Let there be light’”, says God, ‘and there was light’: Jesus rises from the grave. Life is stronger than death. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies. The darkness of the previous days is driven away the moment Jesus rises from the grave and himself becomes God’s pure light.” That message is much more convincing of the power of faith than simply telling people that it’s a sin to miss Mass.
During this Easter Season, I hope each of us might take the Holy Father’s message and pray for one person who may be stumbling in a spiritual darkness. It’s a message that needs to be shared. We need to be bearers of light ourselves.
The Holy Father went on: “With the Resurrection of Jesus, light itself is created anew. He draws all of us after him into the new light of the Resurrection and he conquers all darkness. He is God’s new day, new for all of us.”
Father Freer serves the diocese as vicar for Catholic education.[[In-content Ad]]