Sermons

April 1: Easter

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” Alleluia, Psalm 118:1-2.

Lighting of the Easter Candle

Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega.

All time belongs to him and all the ages. To him be glory and power through every age and forever. Amen.

May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our own hearts and minds.

My dear friends, standing in the awesome glory of this holy light, invoke with me, I ask you, the mercy of God the Almighty, that he, who has pleased to number us among his friends, may pour into us his light without shadow, that we may sing this candle’s perfect praises.

Christos anesti! Christ is risen!
Alithos anesti! He is truly risen!

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Blessing of the Easter Water

Springs of water — bless the Lord; praise and exult him above all forever.

O God, who by invisible power accomplish a wonderous effect through sacramental signs and who in many ways prepared water, your creation, to show forth the grace of Baptism in us.

O God, whose Son baptized by John in the waters of the Jordon, was anointed with the Holy Spirit, and as he hung upon the Cross, gave forth water from his side along with blood, and after his Resurrection, commanded his disciples: “Go forth, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” look now, we pray, upon the face of your people and graciously unseal for us the fountain of baptismal grace.

May the power of the Holy Spirit, O Lord, we pray come down through your Son into the fullness of this font, so that all who have been buried with Christ by Baptism into his death may rise again to life with him. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Springs of water — bless the Lord; praise and exult him above all forever.

 

Anne Lamont, the Bay Area writer, tells us: “We are an Easter people, living in a Good Friday world.” On this point, I believe she is very correct.

Looking back these forty days of Lent to Ash Wednesday on February 14th, occurred on Valentine’s Day; and today we celebrate Easter on April Fools Day. It’s also Passover.

As “Easter people, living in this Good Friday world,” perhaps we are “fools for Christ?”

When we celebrated 9:30 AM Mass here at Santa Catalina on Ash Wednesday, we did not know of the great tragedy of death, violence, and the broken lives that would take their toll later in the day — at the Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

We pray for healing and resolution to all such vengeful acts. It’s tough to fully understand these events now amid the mixture of sorrow, loss, hurt, and even youthful protest.

Here’s a personal story that speaks of my own youthful moral confusion. I grew up in Newark, New Jersey, where I was born, just after World War II.

In our neighborhood, nearby Orange Street, there was German ice cream & candy store, Gruning’s, whose high-quality products attracted customers from all around. It was there that we purchased chocolates, especially for the Easter holiday.

Those plastic wrapped baskets were filled with chocolate eggs, jellybeans, and the confections of “rubbery sugar” fashioned into the image of bunnies. The custom was these candies signaled the end of the Lenten fast, and helped celebrate the spring season and Easter.

Throughout the summer months, young and old would stand in long lines – onto the sidewalk for their unique ice-cream flavors like New Jersey peach ice cream.

I was eight or nine years old, in line at Gruning’s with my father and brother, when I took curious notice of something very strange, and even alien on the of the floor of the store. There on the floor, engraved into the design of stonework, were permanent mosaic tiles in black and white, with the images of swastikas.

By that point in my young life, I had already watched enough World War II movies on the Late Show, to recognize this feared icon. So I pointed out this image to my father, who told me to wait until we got into the car before he explained.

In this Newark neighborhood, our neighborhood, my father told me, that only ten years earlier, there were a few people on the wrong side of history.

Life is not black and white, it’s complicated, and even the folks at Gruning’s were not immune to a loyalty for a wrong and hurtful cause.

Like the high school students in Parkland, Florida, youth have a way of seeing things clearly – in a way that we adults have become hard, immune or blind to the moral challenges among us.

But we are an Easter people, living in a Good Friday world – complicated, not black and white, and sometimes mistaken.

This ice cream store and the Easter candies are gone; and the Newark, N.J., that I knew as a youngster, is very different.

I should add, that years later as a priest, I once met a Jewish chocolate and candy maker from Bayonne, New Jersey who told me that centuries before, it was Sephardic Jews who introduced chocolate to Europe.

As part of this man’s prosperous business, he proudly produced his fancy chocolates at Christmas; and for the celebrations of Passover and Easter – for his many Jewish and Christian customers.

We are an Easter people (at Passover), living in a Good Friday world.

In this regard, we listen to Jesus’s words: “I am the Resurrection and the life. I have come that you may have life and that you live it abundantly. I am the way to the Father!”

So at Easter, if we’re honest enough, we know that not all things are shining – but some things are – and, we see him, and his grace even in us, his wounded and blind servants.

People, life-long friendships, a deceased parent, perhaps an event, such as a wedding can remind us of who we are, and what’s truly meaningful for ourselves and our children.

Not all things are shining, but some things are — even brilliant and these rays reflect the light of Christ, a light worth guiding our lives.

Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.

King’s Choir Cambridge sing “This Joyful Eastertide,” conducted by John Rutter

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