Message from Rev. Christopher Micale
The obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains lifted until further notice, especially if you are part of a vulnerable population and/or have an underlying health condition.
Please approach the celebration of Mass with charity and love for our clergy and faith community by following the protocols:
- Stay home if you are sick or not feeling well.
- Wear a mask in Mass.
- Sanitize your hands upon entry. Due to shortages of sanitizer, please bring your own if possible.
- Sit in designated pews and respect social distance between others of 6 feet or more unless you are one family unit.
- Refrain from congregating in tight areas or entering cordoned off areas.
- Follow the protocols to receive Holy Communion as directed at Mass.
- Follow your church protocols regarding registration if necessary due to the 25% capacity limit.
For more details about church protocols visit: vermontcatholic.org/covid-19
While these protocols are intrusive, they are necessary as they allow us to celebrate the Sacraments in person while doing our part to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
When you return to Mass, you will see things have changed a bit.
- Hymnal and other reading material has been cleared from the pews.
- Bulletins will be available after Mass.
- Please wear a mask and use hand sanitizer upon entry and exit from the church.
- At this time there will be no coffee hour so please do not congregate in large groups in or outside of the church.
- The sacristy will be closed until further notice.
- Please wear your mask during your approach to communion. When it is your turn, please pull your mask down below your chin, receive in your hand, consume host, and then replace mask before returning to your pew.
I remember being in school being so distracted and having a real difficulty focusing on my schoolwork, especially during the late winter or early spring. Whether it was the warming days or the fatigue of the long school year I really had to muster all the strength I had to focus to get the job done.
We are very much distracted this Lent by something far more frightening and powerful than the budding of the trees and the promise of spring. The Covid-19 virus, unfortunately takes much of our attention. This is simply because when it’s a matter of survival and physical wellbeing we take notice. Suddenly we are all eyes and ears.
As Christians we must never forget that while we must be good stewards of our physical and psychological health it is our spiritual condition, the state of our soul that counts. Today we celebrate the joyous entrance of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. There was no social distancing in this gathering. The crowds engulfed Christ as He entered the City of David on the colt, or young donkey, a symbol of the humility He illustrated here on earth.
Christ is entering the final stage of His ministry the work that led Him to His death on the cross. We don’t always think of this but Christ came to die. His mission on this planet was to die, period. At His nativity, lying in a manger, He took on our human nature; He took on earthly life so He could give it up by His death as the perfect offering for our sin.
Jesus was not distracted. He was not confused about who He was or why He was living in the first century AD. At the age of twelve He is discussing theology with the leaders of the Jewish temple. He responds to Mary and Joseph’s exasperation of His being lost with the simple response that He had to be in His Father’s house doing His Father’s will.
At the wedding at Cana He indicates to His mother that if He creates wine out of water His ministry will begin and their relationship would change forever. This would start Him down the road of His physical demise, that is, His death. Jesus was born to die. Christ was focused on this mission from childhood to adulthood; He was not distracted from His call.
Today, over 2000 years later, Christ is calling us to die. Not God forbid from the current scourge of Covid-19, but to the self, the selfish, self-focused attitude that works against the focus of service and love toward others. Despite all that confronts us today the physical danger is the least of our troubles. It is the damage and disease of the soul that is far more severe and long lasting.
Christ is ever existent. He always lived. He was born in the flesh and came to us to die. We who die (for this is the reality for us all as humans) will be born to a new life for eternity.
The joyous entrance in Jerusalem is a moment of celebratory respite from the difficulties and hatred Jesus experienced throughout His mission preaching the Gospel, and the soon coming suffering and passion He will experience. It points to His glorious resurrection. It is a reminder to us that this life, with all its trials and difficulties is our moment of suffering before an eternity of joy and glory with the Blessed Trinity, if we are focused on doing God’s will now. It means giving not taking, serving not getting, putting others first.
Jesus calls all of us to be focused on the work of God that is overcoming everything that keeps us from a relationship with Him. There is a lot that can easily get in the way. Yet He asks us to have the same focus as Christ does, that is, to destroy sin and thereby death itself, the end result of sin.
Despite all the bad news that distracts us with the pandemic there are many today who are sacrificing their health and wellbeing in the service of others. Let’s be focused on the true reality that Christ offered Himself up so that we may live forever, where no pathogen or evil can harm us. For it is only through sacrifice, the refusal to give into selfish desires and pleasures, and by serving others first, that true happiness can be ours. Let’s ride forward in humility as Our Lord did on the first Palm Sunday accepting the work He has ahead of us always being willing to sacrifice our own desires for God and the good of others.
Mirrors are interesting things. Basically they are made of clear glass that receives various coats of metals and paints on its backside to create the reflective properties in which we can see our own reflection. During the process there are many scrubbing and polishing that occur. The least flaw or imperfection in the glass and its finishes will create a distorted reflection. We see this in fun house mirrors that distort our image on purpose.
Throughout the Gospels and in particularly today’s Gospel Jesus speaks of glorifying the Father. In all Christ did and said on earth He was a total reflection of God in heaven. Since He had taken on our humanity His divinity was shrouded or hidden. To the average person He looked like anyone else yet people experienced something very different by the manner in which Jesus spoken and lived; the person Jesus was being directed by someone else, God the Father and the Holy Spirit. People could not explain it but they saw it.
To glorify God in the manner Jesus speaks of today goes beyond just praising Him.
We must reflect God in all we say and do. Words are not enough. Platitudes about Jesus and knowing Him are not enough. What really counts and what really illustrates that we are attempting to glorify God, is our approach to life. It is a supernatural focus concerned about our oneness with God. Listen to the words of Bishop St. Cyril of Alexandria.
“If we have given up our worldly way of life and submitted once for all to the laws of the Spirit, it must surely be obvious to everyone that by repudiating, in a sense, our own life, and taking on the supernatural likeness of the Holy Spirit, who is united to us, our nature is transformed so that we are no longer merely men, but also sons of God, spiritual men, by reason of the share we have received in the divine nature. We are all one, therefore, in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are one in mind and holiness, we are one through our communion in the sacred flesh of Christ, and through our sharing in the one Holy Spirit.”
Glorifying God means giving up an approach to life that is secular and focused solely on the here and now. We are to guard our physical health and wellbeing of course but true health both mentally and physically come by a healthy and solid spiritual life. These last two and a half months, as difficult as they have been physically and psychologically, have also been a time of testing for us in the spiritual life. Do we see God as the center of our lives or careers, businesses, and entertainment what counts most?
God permits trials in our lives to scrub and polish us like a mirror. Let’s look at this recent period of time (regardless of our opinions on what the government or the Church should have or shouldn’t have done) to reassess where we are in our relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Our goal as Christians is to be a true reflection of His glory; that is His nature, His holiness and His love toward others. If we are honest, we will realize that we possess many spiritual imperfections that distort the image of God in us. Let’s rededicate our lives to being the truest reflection or revelation of Christ to the world.
Being abandoned is one of the most devastating situations a person can endure. We are all created for relationships that are strong and supportive. When it comes to our friends we expect them to be there for us during difficult times. It the stuff life is made of.
I remember one situation in which I was left flat by a supposed friend who I had known since elementary school. During some recess in High School we were hanging out together and some other student came by and made a derogatory remark against me and started laughing. This was understandable because this person was always causing trouble and had his sites set on giving me grief. What was most devastating was not his attack on me but the fact that my friend started laughing with him!
The lack of support and my friend’s reaction was far more damaging than the initial attack from my nemesis. It led me to start closing down and keeping people at arms distance. It fear our society in large is doing the same thing.
There are times in life when we feel like others have abandoned us. What’s more sometimes we feel this way with our relationship with God. Jesus tells us he will not leave us as orphans. Yet it doesn’t always feel that way. For two months public masses have been suspended. Many have feel abandoned; many feel God is missing lately.
Yet Christ was not a weak human that succumbed to pressures and influences that pushed Him to self-protection. He permitted himself to suffer and die at the hands of others. He permitted himself to be vulnerable. For our sake and for our salvation He exposed himself to the worst influences in the society when He was on earth.
We have the tendency to see things purely from a psychological or physical concern, especially during our battle with the Corona virus. It’s all about self-defense. As Christians we can fall into this trap of self-focus and protection. No one wants to be vulnerable yet we are fooling ourselves if we think we can completely control every situation or environment. We are not invincible, only Christ is.
The Christian life is not about self-protection and being constantly on the defensive. That’s not to say that we don’t take proper precautions or make wise decisions. God gave us a brain to critically think through a situation. But that decision can’t be based purely on physical or secular approaches. We live by the supernatural faith Christ gives us first through Baptism and the other Sacraments. This is why Jesus said He would not leave us as alone. He is with us always. It’s very easy to give up on God if we miss the other part of the equation; that our spiritual condition is far more important than our physical life.
We need to come to the realization that we are vulnerable, and that it’s that same vulnerability that will save us: because we see the need for Jesus and His grace. Humility is key in the Christian life. Many times the feeling of abandonment really translates to our turning away from Him not Him from us. We think we can handle things when we can’t.
Let’s trust in Jesus and His words coming to Him in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament now that Churches are open and available. Let us start rebuilding our relationship with Christ if it has faltered lately and rededicate our lives to Him and His Church.
Sometimes no matter how good the directions are, even with GPS, we become lost and have no idea where we are going. In Vermont sometimes the satellite points just don’t show up on the high tech smart phone or other computer generated device and we haven’t a clue where we are and where we need to go to get to the destination. However, we can feel lost in other ways that are far less tangible but just as real and affect our wellbeing.
One of my favorite movies is Moonstruck. It’s about an Italian American family and how each member is kind of lost. The father is having an identity crisis and seeing another woman. The mother briefly invites a stranger to dinner. The daughter who is engaged falls for the brother of her fiancé who is totally lost after enduring an accident that severed his right hand. He is bitter and angry. The grandfather is put off by seeing his daughter-in-law walking with another man and then is totally confused when his granddaughter becomes engaged to the brother of the original suitor. Everyone’s disoriented and lost.
Yet in the end the husband and wife make up, the daughter is at peace because she now is marrying someone she truly loves: just another “average” American family.
In the Gospel for the Fifth Week of Easter St. Thomas, one of the disciples who would become the apostle, asks the following question, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Our Lord’s reply: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father.” The compass point, the true directional is Christ, period.
We are all experiencing a bit of an upheaval if not identity crisis at this point in time. Our routine and normal way of living has been upended. Most importantly for the Christian our normal Sunday routine has been interrupted. We may feel lost and not knowing where to turn. There are some good signposts to send us in the right direction. The Diocese of Burlington has many online masses and devotions to help us get redirected. But nothing substitutes for Mass in person: the physical presence of the Body of Christ with the priest who is persona Christi Capitis (in the person of Christ as the head).
As Catholics we understand the significance of the Incarnation of Jesus, the Word of God ever living ever took on our human nature and became man. He continues to be present among us in the Holy Eucharist. Even if we are not able to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion just being physically present before Him is never to be underestimated.
Yes we can pray anywhere and God can be with us, but Jesus desires greatly to be sacramentally present to us. It was for this reason that He suffered, died and was resurrected so He can give us a small portion His supernatural life now in anticipation of the fullness of His presence in us in heaven later. Starting Monday May 11th, the Churches will be opened at certain times for prayer (see St. Thomas and St. Mary’s websites).
He is the way, the true north star of our lives. He is the truth, in a world in which many no longer believe in an absolute truth that can lead us in the proper direction. He is the life, in a world that claims it is concerned about saving lives yet only those it deems valuable.
No, only Christ present to us can lead humanity to a healthy and sane existence. Although the precautions given us by the experts are important and we should adhere to them best we can, no facemask, no sanitizing wipe, no good hand washing technique, and no vaccine can prevent deterioration and healing of the soul.
While priests will still not be able to offer Mass and Communion, Jesus is still present to us. He longs for us and shows us this not only through His suffering and death, but also through His being present to us in Church in the tabernacle. Let us return to His presence after this extended period of absence asking for His grace and peace during this difficult time. Let us rededicate our lives to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament by going to Confession in preparation for Holy Communion at Mass in the near future. For if He truly is the way, the truth and the life and speaks through the priest, we need to open our hearts and souls and listen to what He requests of us, for He is always concerned for our spiritual condition.
When I was first in school studying Occupational Therapy I learned a new word: habituate. At first read it appears to be referring to a habit that one falls into, but this is not the case. To “habituate” in the world of rehabilitation means the ability to screen out various sounds and noises so one can focus better on a task. For example some students cannot study well under florescent lighting because in many cases there is a very low-level buzz or hiss that occurs. The average student can ignore this while attending to the task at hand, but some individuals with a diagnosis say of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) have a very difficult time blocking out this very small distraction. It keeps them from hearing or listening to what is being spoken of by the teacher or instructor. Focus is essential in life.
We’ve all spoken this phrase at one time or another when we are having difficulty focusing or trying to figure something out, “I can’t hear myself think!” Normally this happens when we are in a place where there’s a lot going on and we’re being pulled in many directions.
There are times when we need a quiet place and calm so we can think through some issues to act appropriately and sensibly. There is nothing more distracting than a radio program that isn’t tuned in properly or an Internet video that keeps “burping” or stopping in midstream. We can’t follow the gist of what’s being discussed or performed through a faulty transmission. This goes for the spiritual life too.
Jesus wants us to come to Him to find the answers we are struggling with in our everyday lives, but this requires we are focused spiritually. In the Gospel for the fourth Sunday of Easter He makes this statement using the analogy of a Good Shepherd and His sheep, “…and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” (John 10:3-5) This is not possible if the “static” of the world is not tuned out otherwise we become overwhelmed by secular noise. We need to hear Christ’s supernatural voice.
I would say most of us are beleaguered with news daily about Covid-19. The noise can be deafening and completely consuming. Yet putting the virus concerns aside it is quite easy to permit the daily challenges of life, the conflicting values of the world and all the secular approaches to the news to distract us away from the voice that really counts; the voice of the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ.
The goal of the Christian life is to become better and more tuned in to the voice of Jesus proclaimed by the true agent of grace and salvation, the Church of God. Getting to know the teachings and truths of the Catholic Church and spending time in prayer and quiet solitude attunes our spiritual ears to hear the voice of the Savior and Shepherd of our souls. For it is the soul and its spiritual condition that God is concerned about most.
Despite the overwhelming news about the corona virus and distress it can cause, we must pause from all the blaring news reports and all the statistics and carve out times of quiet reflection and prayer, trusting that God will speak to our hearts and souls and give us comfort. For as much as we applaud the advances of the medical profession and the technological prowess of mankind to create instruments and vaccines to assist in the elimination of this scourge, it is ultimately God who will provide the true solace and stability that we all long for in this very unstable period in world history.
Let us “habituate” the sounds, the distractions and the facts and figures by coming before Christ in prayer and contrition acknowledging our sins and weaknesses and opening our spiritual ears to the voice of the Good Shepherd, the only voice that can truly give us the peace of mind and soul for which we all yearn.
Trifecta of Jesus, Mary and Joseph this Friday, May 1st. The constellation of the Holy Family will align this week. Be sure to honor all three hearts for the benefit of the family, the cell of humanity and for the benefit of the world!
The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker is coming. This Friday is a spiritual trifecta. A trifecta is a run of three wins or grand events and this week we hit it out of the park! This Friday is the first Friday of the new month. First Fridays are dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with Mass and Eucharistic Adoration following. This coming month is May. May is dedicated to Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary. First Friday this coming month happens to also be the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. It’s a stellar constellation of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph! With the human family under assault from all angles: no fault divorce, the prevention and destruction of human life both in and outside the womb, and gender confusion we desperately need a “tri-celebration” to beseech heaven to come to our aid. At no other time in the history of mankind has the family been besieged and attacked. Only the family envisioned by God can keep the world stable and functional. No other arrangement, no matter how well the intention, can accomplish the goal the Creator has for mankind of selfless giving in a relationship that is complimentary and assists with the full flourishing of the human person. In the world of mass confusion we are experiencing only God’s true model of the human family, the “cell of humanity” it’s true, solid building block, can provide the stability and fulfillment God intended. God creates with an order in mind and only by adhering to that order will mankind be satisfied and at peace. The family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is our model. In it all worked for the benefit of the other. Joseph provided the stability and protection needed as any father should do. This created a nurturing environment for Jesus and Mary, from the security at the manager at Christ’s birth, to the protection during the flight to Egypt, to the provision of financial and emotional stability during the youth of Jesus in Nazareth. Whether or not we are able to attend Mass or Eucharistic Adoration on this day we should pray to the Holy Family for stability in the world during this very unstable and confusing time. Let us pray to the Holy Family for protection against anything that would tear down the building block of society and pray to the three Heart of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: the Sacred Heart of Jesus that was pierced on the cross and in which the Church and Her Sacraments were created in total sacrifice for us; the Immaculate Heart of Mary in which is pure love and devotion pour forth in total submission to God which directs our souls to her Son Jesus Christ; the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph illustrating to us that love and dedication to another void of self-serving passion, frees the person to give totally for the benefit of others without reserve. Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Immaculate Heart of Mary pray for us! Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph pray for us!
It’s quite a funny experience when someone comes up to you and greets you and you haven’t the foggiest notion of who it is. The other person cheerfully addresses you like you’ve known him or her forever. You inwardly scratch your head saying to yourself who is this person? Then the person states something like this, “Boy the last time we saw each other we were still working at the hospital.” Then it hits you; by association of place or circumstance you remember and then (prior to Covid-19) embrace each other.
In the Gospel today the two disciples of Jesus are disheartened and melancholy. They had anticipated that Jesus, the Messiah was the answer to the Jewish nation’s woes. He has been crucified and buried and their hopes are dashed. They are walking home and the two are discussing things, Jesus comes up beside them and they don’t recognize Him.
Jesus jumps into the conversation explaining the Scriptures and how they related to Him yet they still don’t recognize Him, why? His presence is totally out of context. He was known to the disciples in a certain way or circumstance as Rabbi or prophet. Christ presents Himself as a stranger, a person removed from all that has just happened. They are totally incapable of acknowledging Jesus because He is disconnected from the association they had with him before He suffered and died.
When do they recognize Him? They invite Our Lord for supper and then the lights go on. As Jesus breaks the bread and raises it up they get it, and He disappears. The association with Jesus as the Bread of Life that comes down from heaven is made, the connection happens, they realize whom the Messiah the Rabbi truly is: all because of the Eucharist.
The disciples speak to each other about how their hearts burned when Jesus explained the Scriptures. It was a very moving and spiritual experience yet they didn’t recognize Him from the Bible. It was when the Eucharist was presented that they made the connection.
What about us? Do we make the connection with Christ in the Holy Eucharist? Do we realize that the Eucharist that is presented to us at Holy Mass is not merely a symbol.
However when Jesus bids us to eat His body and drink His Blood we are not cannibals. When we eat the Body and drink the Blood of Christ, we are not ripping off the skin and sinews and cutting open His skin to suck His blood like a vampire, we are spiritually nourished through the Sacrament. It is His very “Sacramental” presence. This is so because Jesus no longer has a human body in the form that we have at present. His body (and it truly is His body) has been glorified, just as ours will be if we are faithful in this life and enter heaven after we die.
The more important question we must ask ourselves in this time of Covid-19 is, do we long for His presence now that we cannot partake of the Holy Eucharist? Are we missing Mass because at this time we cannot receive Him via the Sacrament?
Coming to Church on Sunday incorporates the sense of community with others who believe yet the true grace, the true privilege in coming to Mass is that we receive Jesus in the most splendid and profound way through His very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. The readings, the psalm and the Gospel present Christ in certain manner but they pale in significance to His very presence in the Holy Eucharist.
Just as the disciples in the Gospel today were enthralled and mesmerized by Christ preaching the Scriptures it was only through His Sacramental presence at table with the breaking of the bread that made all the difference. It was the endpoint of the entire interaction they had that started on the road with the preaching of Our High Priest Jesus.
This is the journey we take at Mass every week starting with the Word of God through the Scriptures that ends with the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Himself present to us all. Just as Jesus slowly guided the disciples to Himself, so the Mass guides us to Him today.
Let us never shortchange the impact of Christ’s presence at Mass. There is no substitute, there is no replacement, and there is no other element (even if it is spiritual in nature) that compares or is equal to Our Lord’s very presence. It is that presence we should desire and long for in these difficult days. It the greatest gift given us this side of heaven.
Catholics are creedal Christians. This means we have a set list of beliefs and we state that publicaly at every Sunday mass as well as other Solemnity masses. “I believe in on God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”
It seems the world has a hard time, as well as we all do of believing unless we see. As we suffer under the pandemic it seems we focus most of our attention on what we can do physically. The question becomes that medical and pharmaceutical means are at our disposal to attack and overcome Covid-19? The resolve is to take every avenue open to us to stamp out this enemy, using every physical means available to destroy something that is invisible. For what we see are the effects and symptoms of the body’s attempt at eliminating the virus not the virus itself. The Covid-19 virus is a hidden adversary.
While all the medical, physical and behavioral approaches are necessary, we hear very little about attacking an invisible enemy with an “invisible approach”. That of course is through the power of God and His supernatural intervention. Humanity has lost sight of the true identity of mankind. Men and women are not merely composed of matter but also the immaterial spirit or soul. If we approach life from a purely physical component, we are only dealing with half of the reality. We are unable to “see” the invisible.
In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, we see St. Thomas, one of the Apostles struggling to believe because he had not yet physically seen Jesus after His bodily resurrection. He demands to see the marks in Jesus’ hands, feet and side before he is willing to believe. He must see the visible signs; just believing is not enough.
St. Paul cautions us to “live by faith not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). It is not what we see that strengthens us but what is unseen, invisible. During catastrophic times as these the question arises, “how could God allow such tragedy to happen?” We see a world rife with natural disasters and we ask ourselves why. This is question is known in the Church’s understanding as the mystery of evil.
We know that when sin entered the world there was a disruption to the natural order, and explains partially why things go awry. The answer is never a sufficient one or completely satisfactory. Yet disillusionment results if we put all our hopes on looking for a perfect paradise on earth. Our Lord never told us the goal was to bring heaven to earth but those on earth to heaven. The goal is reach what is invisible, the true beatitude of heaven.
Through the difficulties we all endure, as we face this biological foe, we must never underestimate the power of the Invisible God for He shows Himself in many ways. Through nature, situations that arise, and even disasters He reveals Himself. His form is invisible to our eyes yet His influence and presence is everywhere.
For one thing, He created men and women with the intellect to address difficulties. He has given individuals talents and intellect to take on the challenges of life. He has made us in His image and likeness that makes us superior to all other creatures on earth. Yet if we leave Him out of the picture, we are denying that invisible part of the human equation, that spiritual nature given to us by God Himself.
St. Thomas was stuck in the physical, natural world. He did not yet understand or underestimated the power of God, the invisible or unseen reality that exists beyond the mere material world. We, as Christians must never forget this and must not rely solely on physical approaches whether it’s combating the corona virus or our own sinfulness.
Finally, this being Divine Mercy Sunday, we call upon the grace and mercy of God and His Son Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. We call out to our Blessed Mother and all the Saints. The Church, with her Sacraments, support and strengthen our faith and resolve, not only regarding a physical illness, but more importantly to assist us in turning away from the sins that so easily ensnare us.
Let us turn back to God, because our natural tendency in difficult times is to turn to oneself for answers and remedies. During this difficult time let us first approach the throne of grace on which Our Savior, Jesus Christ sits. Who paid the price for our sins by His great suffering and death on the cross. Let us not walk by sight but by faith.
When my parents first moved to Vermont their neighbor responded when asked about springtime saying, “…spring in Vermont is interesting” meaning winter has the tendency to hold its grip far into the “spring” season.
There is a struggle that we must come to admit. A struggle between life and death; we see it in the smallest of things; the crocus that springs up only to be crushed by spring snow. The strengthening sunshine begins to warm the earth only to be chilled by the return of an arctic blast. April holds so much promise in Northern New England yet so often the flame of spring is snuffed out by an ice storm of freezing rain.
There is a battle waging in life on the tiniest level. We see this by grass of small plants pushing their way up through broken pavement. We see this in the battle between life and death with the corona virus. This year, the strangest of all years, there is a struggle also between life and death. Not only against Covid-19, that’s just a horrible symbol of a far more tragic loss, the loss of the human soul in the fight against sin. Sin and death want to win. The devil, who hates humanity, wants to prevail. Yet even he knows this is futile. Nothing trumps God. Jesus Christ is God’s trump card.
Why the struggle, why the battle, why the suffering? Simply because God wants us to realize how horrible sin is and it’s cost to humanity, how it creates mayhem, how it causes pain, how it distorts and disfigures the beautiful creation, not only the earth around us but the human person made in the image and likeness of God. It must be a struggle.
The beauty of the resurrection we celebrate came at a cost: the passion, the suffering and death of Our Lord. If we forget the suffering we cannot appreciate or understand its glory.
The rising of Christ from the dead is not a magic trick to be performed to entertain, neither is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Many of us wonder this year why had the Mass been taken from us? Why are we suffering this loss? Many say after the scourge of Covid-19 why was my loved one taken from me? Yet the most appropriate question is why did Jesus have to die? The disciples must have asked the question, “Why was Jesus taken from us?” It’s a battle.
Everything was looking so positive to the followers of Christ. It looked like they were on the verge of succeeding to make Israel great again, the bottom falls out. Why? God wants us to value life. He wants us to value holiness. He wants us to freely choose to follow Him
and the only way He can assist us without forcing us is to reveal how ugly, devastating and brutal sin is in our lives.
We have been in a time of revealing for the past few years and interestingly this year Our Lord is showing us the ravages of sin in the world, in the government, our educational system, in the entertainment industry and in the Church. Sin is devastating.
So the struggle continues. In Northern New England, the struggle of spring over winter continues. In the world the struggle of humanity against Covid-19 continues. In the human heart and soul the struggle over sin and death continues.
There’s only one way to win the battle. There is only one way to overcome sin, there is only one way to receive eternal life in peace and total fulfillment after this life, and that way is a person who had the audacity, fueled by love while He was living on this earth, to claim He is the Way, the Truth and the Life; He is the Resurrection, Jesus Christ, Our Savior, Our Messiah, Our Lord; the very Son of the living God.