May 15, 2022: Fifth Sunday of Easter
Easter greetings to all of you. He is Risen. He is truly Risen!
I wanted to take this opportunity to say how wonderful Holy Week, the Triduum and Easter Sunday have been. It was truly special to see so many of you stay on Holy Thursday to spend some quiet time with the Lord and then to see many more of you than usual join us for the very moving Easter Vigil mass. Overall, the number of people attending all masses was so much more like ‘normal’ since the pandemic turned our lives upside down. I pray we continue to worship together every week.
This Sunday we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. This feast highlights the Mercy of our God, which very much goes hand-in-hand with the salvation won for us by the Paschal Mystery. Hopefully, we find great comfort in knowing that God loves us so much that his “mercy endures forever.”
May the joy of the Easter Season remain with you these days and always.
April 17, 2022: Easter Sunday
I wish to send the most heart-felt of Easter greetings to you all today. He is Risen as he said he would and because of that we have Easter joy abounding among us.
The Lenten weeks, while sometimes difficult, are now behind us. The intense Holy Week of commemorating the Lord's Passion, suffering and death has prepared us for this joy. And now we are truly joy-filled because the hope of the Resurrection has been given to us; the gates of Heaven, once closed before Jesus' rising are now flung open and the prospect of eternal life is open to us.
This Easter is a particularly joyous one for me as so many more of us are returning each week to celebrate together. From where you sit, you see mostly the backs of friends, neighbors, visitors and people you have yet to meet. From where I sit, I see so many faces who have become more than faces over the years. As I look at these faces, I think of sharing the ups and downs of everyday life, as well as times of great joy and times of great sorrow. I also see the faces of our young people, some who have been away at school and are home for spring break; some who now have their own families and have brought their children to the home and families they knew as children. I see new faces, some I know are probably just visiting for Easter Sunday, but some who may be new to our town and I hope will feel welcome here, stop and introduce themselves and return again to become the faces of those I see and remember times shared.
My prayer for the wonderful families of St. Cassian Parish and all who are here this weekend is that Christ's Resurrection will bring about new birth and renewed joy in all of us. Light has overcome darkness, love has overwhelmed sin; death has given way to eternal life!
These are the reasons why we rejoice so and sing out.
Fr. Marc, Pastor
April 10, 2022: Palm Sunday
We have reached that time of the liturgical year when we get to the “difficult” days of Lent: we begin Holy Week and immediately enter into the Passion of Jesus and feel his suffering.
The Sacred Triduum, the “Three Days” of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, while not part of Lent, are also filled with emotion. There is the great joy of the Institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday as well as the celebration of the gift of Christ in our midst and in our tabernacles and the institution of the priesthood. This great joy is followed by the sadness of Good Friday, when we commemorate that Our Lord died on a cross for our sins. We go from joy and celebration to sadness and contemplation, then to anticipation on Holy Saturday, waiting patiently for the Resurrection on Saturday night’s Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.
Holy Thursday is one of the most profound celebrations of our faith; the one on which all other celebrations of the Eucharist throughout the year are based . And, once the Holy Thursday liturgy is complete, the altar is stripped and the Eucharist is taken in procession from the church to response in the tabernacle in Larkin Hall which has been transformed into a beautiful, peaceful space to spend some quiet time with Jesus in prayer and reflection.
The congregational reading of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday though simple in nature, is our opportunity to reflect on the sacrifice made for us so we might be freed from the death of sin.
The Easter Vigil, the liturgical highpoint of the year and our most solemn mass, begins at 8:30PM on Saturday in the darkness of night. The symbolism of lighting the fire and the Paschal candle, a symbol of the light of Christ, and then sharing the light of Jesus with everyone in the church as each person’s candle is lit is a moving sight and vivid reminder of being freed from the darkness of sin. Sadly, we have no one being initiated as a member of our Church this year, so we will not celebrate that most beautiful ceremony. But, if the length of the Easter Vigil that has included the reception of new members has kept you from experiencing the beauty of this wonderful night in the past, this year would be the perfect time to come.
If you have never participated in the very special days of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, I encourage you to consider joining those who have long considered the days of the Triduum some of the most spiritually enriching days of the year. After these past two years of being unable to celebrate the Triduum together and so much more to be grateful for, I want to encourage each of you to come together as a community. Please don’t just get your palms this year, but walk with Our Lord and the Church during these “difficult” days and the celebration of the Light arriving among us.
Fr. Marc, Pastor
April 3, 2022: Fifth Sunday of Lent
Dear Followers of Jesus,
John 8:1-11 is proclaimed at Mass this weekend. I love this text. This story is ultimate spiritual freedom and forgiveness. I hope you can find your way this story this week. The Church needs you to know the mercy to Jesus Christ, to become a follower of Him who leads you, invites you, and shows you the way into your real life.
An anonymous woman is caught in adultery. The obvious first question is, "What happened to the man? We don't know. The more I sit with this text the more I come to the conclusion the the man involved will never know forgiveness and mercy because he does not know Jesus. The woman is in a circle of men, a circle of perceived power and authority. This power-circle caves in very fast. Jesus is near, doing what he always does — changing the status and place of power. He invites the men to self-reflect. That is the first miracle. So those without sin should be the first to cast a stone. The men begin to understand. They put down the stones of condemnation, the stones that were going to the woman who is steeped in sin according to the men in the power positions.
Jesus is stooped down to the ground. He is writing something in the sand. No one really knows what he is doing. Even centuries later, no one knows for sure. What I love about his place in this story is that he is detached from the power scene. He claims his own power by literally drawing new lines in the sand that erase the boundaries between sinners and saved. Jesus is revealing to everyone that there is a new authority; there is a new way of viewing the past. Jesus squats down to doodle a new story in the sand that washes hopelessness away and restores the dignity to the woman. The men are faced with their own stuff, which is truly fumbling for them.
Forgiveness is a miracle that we all seek, especially in the Lenten season. Sometimes we get so caught up our own sin that we think Jesus could not forgive us. Sometimes we even believe that our sin is so strong and divisive that it could not possibly be forgiven. We hold it as a badge of honor and never let it go. I am not exactly sure what possesses us believe that our own sin is so darn important, but I experience it in people all the time. "God could not possibly forgive!" Not true, just listen to this story.
I pray we can put down the stones we want to cast at others. We need to put down the stones that condemn and push others away. Sometimes those stones come from our mouths and sometimes they come from a cold shoulder. Sometimes we blame others for what is not going well in our lives. Sometimes our stones become sheer hate. Whether our stones are guns or words an email, our blame hurts people.
Lets pray to find Jesus bending down in the sand to forgive us, to erase the boundaries of our hated. Let's find him face to face.
March 27, 2022: Fourth Sunday of Lent
Dear Followers of Jesus,
Today, on this Fourth Sunday of Lent, we proclaim Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32 at Mass. This is one of my favorite stories during the Lenten season. Most of us are familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son. If we are not, the story bursts with love and forgiveness and is well worth our effort to enter into its mystery and grace.
There are three characters in the story, a father and his two sons. The younger son thinks he deserves the best and is aching to gain a new freedom apart from his father and brother. The amazing thing is that the father gives him his portion of the inheritance and lets him go. The young son squanders the money and grows weak, hungry and helpless. The son begins to wake up to the reality that his life was pretty darn good the way it was, so he goes back home. He admits to his father that he has really messed up.
We all understand sheer restlessness for such freedom. We desire our own voice, our own place in the world. Sometimes we get it and sometimes it eludes us. We struggle to get our way and we may become addicted to drugs, pride, violence or alcohol in our newfound freedom. We cling to self-sufficiency, self-righteousness and anger just to get our way. No one can tell me what to do. We want to make our presence felt. We definitely know the life of the young son. Some of us live it every day.
The loving father stands near the road waiting for his son. The father runs toward his beloved. He runs, which was unheard of for a Jewish elder. He runs to greet him and offer him forgiveness. He offers forgiveness and wants to have a banquet in the son’s honor. The father gives his love away easily.
We also know the father’s love and forgiveness. Our children may very well be lost and we wait for their arrival home to self and to the family. The father is an image of God and his love in the world, waiting to welcome all of us who are lost and forgotten and unhappy.
The second son is so jealous of his brother. He has kept all the rules and has always done what the father expected. He has seen his life in lockstep to the father. Our lives may very well fit in the category of the second son. We are faithful, keeping all the rules of the Church, never straying, never challenging. Yet, we find our lives so full of regret and hatred, we can hardly stand our ground and find peace in our daily lives.
This gospel becomes an invitation to explore forgiveness and mercy within our lives. We find our lives in all three characters if we take them to heart. Pray with each of the three characters and see in this Lent where you can identify. We thank God for loving mercy and tenderness, no matter where we fit into our relationships and the world. God loves us, indeed.
Fr. Ronald Raab, C.S.C