Alleluia! After forty days of Lent, and the three days of the Sacred Triduum, Easter Sunday has arrived! Today we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He rose from the dead breaking forever the bonds of sin and death, pouring forth upon our human family a shower without end of forgiveness and the promise of eternal life. Today we begin also the great Easter Season beginning with eight days of Easter Week with magnificent readings everyday exploring the meaning of the Resurrection. The Easter season then continues for 40 days until Ascension Thursday on May 10 and finally with the grand finale with the Feast of Pentecost on May 20.
The Easter Season for me is always a glorious time: Great Scripture readings, wonderful music, and celebrations of First Communions, Confirmations, Ordinations, Proms, Graduations, and, we hope, walks though the springtime warmer air with flowers and trees blossoming. During this season our loving God gives us the opportunity to experience the fundamental rhythm of our own life. What does it mean to be born? What does it mean to die? What does it mean to love? Whether it is the spectrum of our individual life or that of our society, it will not work without living out death and resurrection. People will spend billions on cosmetics and surgeries as well as countless hours at the gym to forestall the aging experience. But we never win that battle. We do grow up, and we do grow old. The optional part is our choice to give up a total focus on ourselves, sacrificing some of the things we hold onto, and reaching out to others. We cannot hug a person or have a handshake or offer a compliment to another with our hands in our pockets and our mouths closed. No. To live a Resurrection spiritually is to die to self in order to love the other. I believe you know this far better than I as you live your lives, through unprecedented traffic problems, and historical divisions in our nation and seemingly impossible problems facing the human family. Resurrection calls us to unite and come together. The Church, the people of God is called to be a living Sacrament of Love. During my brief time here with you, the family of Saint Mary Parish, I have observed how you are living the Pascal Mystery and living it well.
Many of you have painfully suffered the closing of Saint Joseph Church in Woburn and the Immaculate Conception Parish here in Winchester. All of us continue to suffer the painful experience of clergy sexual abuse and more recently how widespread that terrible abuse of human life has been among Hollywood people, teachers and often family members. The most powerful experience, however, has been this past year’s death of your warm, welcoming, loving, caring long-term pastor, Father Dick Messina. You also have seen many changes in the parish staff who serve you: Steve Ultrino, Father Beaulieu and Father Bova Conti. Through all this you as a parish family have chosen to be faithful and active members of the parish with hearts fully believing that through dying we can move to the Resurrection.
As we now prepare to welcome our new pastoral leader Father Richard Erikson, I firmly believe we will experience the hope-filled joy of the resurrection spiritually. This joy does not wipe out whatever grief we might feel, but it certainly balances it out. By being resurrection people, we will welcome Father Erikson as yet another “Richard” in our faith community. Father Dick will be cheering us on as on April 20 we begin the process of warmly and lovingly welcoming Father Erikson as our leader. In the spirit of mutuality, we can help him live the Paschal Mystery as he will be letting go of the parish community in Sudbury that he has known and loved. Through all this may the Risen Christ pour forth His love upon us all.
With love, Father John