Saint Mark the Evangelist

April 24th, 2015

st marks

When Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his Papal Mass in 2008 at Nationals Park in Washington, the dramatic large crucifix over the altar fittingly came from Saint Mark the Evangelist Church in Hyattsville.

Like the evangelist whose Gospel shares the Good News of Jesus, that magnificent crucifix, along with the Eucharist celebrated at the altar at the Papal Mass and at its parish church, speaks to us of how Jesus redeemed the world by dying on the cross and rising to new life.

The Gospel of Saint Mark, like every crucifix, tells a love story – the story of how Jesus taught and lived a gospel of love. Then with love he opened his arms on the cross to save us from sin and death, and through his resurrection, showed us the way to eternal life, with and through him.

We know from the Acts of the Apostles that Saint Mark, like his cousin Saint Barnabas, was a missionary companion to Saint Paul on his first journey, and he also later accompanied Saint Peter in Rome. The historian Eusebius reports that Mark then took down the teaching of Peter, which formed the gospel bearing his name (Church History, II:15).

This shortest of the four gospel accounts is believed to have been written first, before 70 A.D., when early Christians, like many Christians today, were facing persecution. Saint Mark’s vivid gospel account of Jesus as the Son of God bringing love and healing to the world gave those early believers strength to endure in their faith and share it with courage and zeal, a message that continues to resonate today.

On the feast day of Saint Mark the Evangelist on April 25, the gospel reading is from the final passage from the evangelist’s account. Jesus appears to the Apostles and gives them the great commission, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel” (Mark 16:15-20).

In a real sense, this ending is really a beginning. The month after his election in 2013, Pope Francis noted in his homily for Mass on the feast of Saint Mark that Jesus’ call to share the Good News is now the work of today’s Christians. “The Church continues to preach this to everyone, all over the world. But she does not go forth alone: she goes forth with Jesus,” he said.

The new pope from the Americas, who had earlier introduced himself as coming “from the ends of the earth,” encouraged today’s Christians to “become missionaries in the Church, apostles in the Church,” with greatness of spirit but also humility. “When we go forth with this magnanimity and humility,” he said, “when we are not scared by the great things, by the horizon, but also take on board the little things – humility, daily charity – the Lord confirms the Word. And we move forward. The triumph of the Church is the Resurrection of Jesus. But there is first the Cross.”

About one month after that blessed Mass with Pope Benedict, I returned to Saint Mark the Evangelist Church to celebrate the Eucharist at the altar there, where the dramatic crucifix again hung overhead, suspended by two pieces of airplane cable. In my homily, I noted how the risen Christ breathed the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and sent them forth.

For 20 centuries, that same action has continued, as the Holy Spirit is poured out on the Church today, on you and me, with the same power to open our hearts to Christ and to change the world by being witnesses to Christ’s love and new life, a story that unfolds in Saint Mark’s Gospel and in our lives, here and now.

Homily: Episcopal Ordination of Bishop-elect Mario Dorsonville

April 20th, 2015

Bishop Dorsonville

At this point in the liturgy, the ritual calls for the bishop to address the clergy, the people and the bishop-elect on the duties of a bishop.

In line with that ancient exhortation, I ask you, the faithful gathered in this cathedral church, to reflect on what we are about to do.

First, as the instruction tells us, we must consider the position in the Church to which our brother is being raised. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was sent by the Father to redeem the human race, in turn sent twelve apostles into the world. These men were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel and gather every race and people into a single flock to be guided in the way of holiness.

Because this service was to continue to the end of time, the apostles selected others to help them. By the laying on of hands which confers the sacrament of orders in its fullness, the apostles passed on the gift of the Holy Spirit which they themselves had received from Christ. In that way, by a succession of bishops unbroken from one generation to the next, the spiritual powers conferred in the beginning were handed down, and the work of our Savior continues in our time.

The third century Christian writer Tertullian concisely expressed this ancient apostolic tradition: “The Church from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, Christ from God” (De Praescr. Haer. XXI, 4).

The second reading chosen for today is from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy, where we find already at the very beginning of the life of the Church, reference to what we are doing here today – the imposition of hands, the invoking of the Holy Spirit and the passing on of the responsibility of proclaiming the message that Jesus Christ has saved us and called us to a holy life.

Paul’s admonition to Timothy is equally appropriate for what is transpiring right now, “I remind you stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.”

The Rite of Ordination in the Roman Pontifical underscores the unique spiritual quality of the Bishop: “In the Bishop surrounded by his priests, our Lord Jesus Christ himself, having become High Priest for ever, is present among you. For, through the ministry of the Bishop, Christ himself never fails to proclaim the Gospel and to administer the sacraments of faith to those who believe. Through the Bishop’s exercise of his duty as father, Christ himself adds new members to his body. Through the Bishop’s wisdom and prudence, it is Christ himself who leads you in your earthy pilgrimage toward eternal happiness.”

The pectoral cross that Bishop Dorsonville receives and wears today depicts what the Rite of Ordination proclaims. It shows the bishop with all of the priests at the service of God’s people teaching, pastorally meeting their needs, and administering all the sacraments.

How is it that a man can take on this enormous responsibility? How is that we find the grace and strength to stand in the midst of the Church as the one who is to teach, to lead and to sanctify?

The first reading today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah confirms for us how this is possible. Just as the prophet announced that “the spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me and has sent me…” (Is 61:1), so can the bishop carry out his challenging ministry assured of a Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The anointing with chrism and the imposition of hands in this sacred ritual are not only visible signs to the faithful of your consecration, they are the efficacious actions by which the Spirit is truly poured out in a transforming and energizing manner.

How appropriate is the responsorial Psalm for today that has been, for Bishop Dorsonville, not only a prayer but a working model, “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake.”

At this point, the ritual also instructs the ordaining bishop to address the one to be ordained. And so Bishop-elect Dorsonville, I offer these words for your consideration.

Scholars tell us that the pivotal point in Matthew’s Gospel is when Jesus asks of Peter a declaration of faith: “Who do you say I am?” Peter responds in a way that has become the model for every disciple of the Lord, every follower of Christ: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Bishop-elect Dorsonville before your response to any other call from Christ or his Church there was your previous answer in faith. With Peter you, together with all of us, have responded to Jesus with the declaration: “You are the Christ…”

The Gospel we listen to today also tells us of a second challenge and question to Peter. This one also is directed now to you and all in apostolic ministry:  “Do you love me?”

It is not a question of faith, but a request for commitment: “Simon son of John do you love me?” Peter’s response is by every priest and bishop here, and certainly in your heart. Peter said directly and clearly: “Lord you know that I love you, Lord you know everything you know that I love you.”

To all of this Jesus simply replied: “Feed my sheep.”

What we celebrate today is your anointing as a successor to the apostles, that body of chosen disciples, charged to feed the sheep.

What we witness today is a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this Church in your consecration and through your ministry to the whole Church of Washington.

Shortly you shall receive as a sign of your office a ring. Tradition tells us that the Bishop’s ring manifests visibly that he is pledged in love to the particular Church entrusted to his care. We speak lovingly of Holy Mother Church when we think of the Church Universal and all of her manifestations. But for a bishop the local Church entrusted to his care is his bride. You are to wear the ring as a sign of fidelity to this holy Church. Love her totally, tirelessly and completely.

You will soon be anointed with the sacred chrism – the oil of mystical anointing that is intended to bring forth an abundance of spiritual blessings. May it always be for you as you exercise your episcopal ministry and stand in the midst of the faithful of this diocesan Church the oil of gladness. May it always renew in you a spirit of joyful hope.

Pope Francis speaks and writes of the Joy of the Gospel. He also gives us an example of how we live that joy of the Risen Lord and invite others to do the same. May that joy always fill your heart.

In a few moments the open Book of the Gospels will be placed over your head. This gesture on the one hand is to indicate that the word of God embraces and watches over the Bishop’s ministry. On the other hand, it indicates that “the Bishop’s life is to be completely submitted to the word of God in his daily commitment of preaching the Gospel in all patience and sound doctrine (cf. 2. Tim. 4)”.

The Church speaks of the bishop’s exercise of the munus regendi – the responsibility to lead his flock. “The Bishop is sent in Christ’s name as a pastor for the care of a particular portion of the People of God” (43). Pope Francis tells us we are to go out, encounter and accompany all those we hope to bring to the Lord.

May your ministry always be an echo of that pastoral challenge given to Peter by our Lord after his Resurrection. “Feed my sheep.” Strengthen them with my Gospel, nurture them with my Body and Blood.

Our prayers, the prayers of all of the clergy, religious and faithful of this diocesan Church, are, at this moment, for you and your ministry. As you face the challenges of episcopal service we pray that you will be constantly sustained by God’s grace. May we always see in your ministry the joy of the Lord and the face of the mercy of God.

In the light of this understanding of who you are and what we are doing, our faith prompts all of us to great joy as you are ordained a bishop of God’s holy Church.

I join my voice to that of your family, friends, the presbyterate, and all the faithful of this local Church in praise to God for this wonderful moment that promises so much good.

May God bring to fruitful completion what today is so wondrously begun in you.

Disagreement Is Not Discrimination

April 20th, 2015

The Washington Post published an op ed I co-authored with John Garvey, the president of The Catholic University of America, regarding the recent laws enacted by the D.C. Council that challenge religious freedom in the nation’s capital.

Here is an excerpt:

Last month, Pope Francis announced that the Catholic Church would celebrate a Holy Year of Divine Mercy. God’s mercy has been a theme of his pontificate.

We all need God’s forgiveness. The pope has said, “I am a sinner.” The Catholic Church’s response to our human frailty is not condemnation but mercy. There may be no institution that understands this better.

Recent laws enacted by the D.C. Council would have us believe otherwise. The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act and the Human Rights Amendment Act purport to address “discrimination” by institutions such as ours, the Archdiocese of Washington and the Catholic University of America. The putative victims of this discrimination are people who part ways with church teaching about unborn life and sexual autonomy.

You can read the complete op ed here.

Easter Joy

April 18th, 2015

easter joy

One of the graces of Easter falling in early April is that nature reflects the joy of new life found in the resurrection of Our Lord and Savior. Our parks and gardens bloom with color. We wonder at how even the most delicate of spring flowers survived our long and cold winter. We revel in our world that seems to have been reborn.

This experience of a world made new also describes some of how the Apostles and other followers of Jesus felt as they made sense of the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection and began to see what impact this astounding news had on the people with whom they shared it. They too found a new vision for life in the story of Jesus. They too wanted to become disciples.

In fact, Jesus described his whole mission as one of giving new life: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). What Jesus offers is a life richer than any we could ever otherwise have, a life so radically new that we must be born again to receive it, a life that participates in his own resurrection and in a glorified and eternal body.

In this we learn that Easter is not so much a time of historical reflection as it is one of rejoicing in our own hope of resurrection. While it is true that we look to the past and see in Christ’s risen life new and eternal existence, we do so to confirm our own faith that some day we too shall rise from the dead. Easter takes on an aura of celebration and an evangelical dimension as we recognize that we are called to share in the wonder of new life.

Like the first followers of Jesus we also need to be enthusiastic messengers of the Good News of the new life to be found in relationship with the Lord. The Church spread from Jerusalem and Rome to Africa and India and all over what we now call Europe on the strength of the testimony of the witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and the enthusiasm of the first Christians. As we move through these 50 days of the Easter season, we have an opportunity to share the difference that Jesus, faith and belonging to the Church make in our lives.

Sharing our faith can be as simple as praying with family each day of the Easter season one of the traditional Easter prayers, like the Regina Caeli. Another way is to read together the book of Acts of the Apostles, in which we learn how the first Christians began to form local communities and expand the Church that Jesus established. In the invitational spirit of Pope Francis, we might consider inviting friends who do not have a spiritual home to join us at Mass or for family sacramental celebrations such as First Communion or Confirmation and then talk about what the sacrament means in everyday life.

We also need to be courageous and active in bearing witness to the Good News as it relates to some of the toughest issues we face today. We are being called to defend religious liberty and promote our right to nurture a robust Catholic identity in all of our Catholic institutions and in how we each live our Catholic faith. Being faithful witnesses to the joy of Easter requires us also to speak up on behalf of Christ’s Church. We should not remain silent, either before the empty tomb or before challenges, to our ability to live and practice our faith.

As joyful witnesses of the Gospel, we want to share that Jesus Christ can fulfill our deepest yearnings and has the power to make what is good in human life far better and richer. He takes our broken lives and heals them, inviting us to share in God’s life so that we might live not just as creatures of a loving God but as his children.

God is Love: The Letters of Saint John

April 15th, 2015
St. John the Evangelist by Zampieri

St. John the Evangelist by Zampieri

Easter is a season to rejoice in the love of Christ our Redeemer, and then proclaim the Good News of the Risen Lord who calls us to eternal life. This is what Saint John does in his three letters of the New Testament and I invite you to read and reflect on these inspiring writings in this time of joy.

The message of Saint John is this: God is light and we are called to walk in the light with him, living in truth and loving God and one another (1 John 1:5-7, 2:9-11). He begins his first letter by bearing witness – “[W]hat we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life,” professes the Beloved Disciple. “[W]e have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us” (1 John 1:1).

Applying these words to life today, Pope Francis says, “By his taking flesh and coming among us, Jesus has touched us, and through the sacraments he continues to touch us even today; transforming our hearts, he unceasingly enables us to acknowledge and acclaim him as the Son of God. In faith, we can touch him and receive the power of his grace” (Lumen Fidei, 31).

Belief in the Incarnation is central to our faith. “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea,” Pope Benedict XVI taught, “but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (Deus Caritas Est, 1). Before all else, the Christian faith is relationship – relationship with God who is himself relationship in the communion of the Trinity.

The key then to understanding John’s letters – the key to interpreting all of sacred scripture, as well as the meaning of human life – and why these writings are so treasured in the Church is found in his beautiful affirmation, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). Pope Benedict explains: “[E]verything has its origin in God’s love, everything is shaped by it, everything is directed towards it. Love is God’s greatest gift to humanity, it is his promise and our hope” (Caritas in Veritate, 2).

This love is not merely a sentiment or philosophy, but a living reality. God’s love is visible throughout history, but nothing so demonstrates that “God is love” as the fact that “God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him” (1 John 4:9).

If human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and God is love – a fullness of love that is a complete gift of self as Jesus gave himself – what does that say about what we should be and how we should conduct our lives?

While God loves us faithfully to the end, if we are to remain in the light, we must admit that we have not always been faithful to our calling. “If we say, ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” warns Saint John. “If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing” (1 John 1:8-9).

God wants our destiny to be with him and so, though imperfect, we dare to call him “Our Father.” We dare because Jesus said to, and because we are baptized into Jesus’ life and so have become God’s adopted children. Saint John speaks of it this way: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are” (1 John 3:1). We are children of God. This too is not a metaphor or poetic figure of speech. We really are, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, adopted children of God who shares eternal life with us.

In his three letters, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” says that he proclaims the Good News “so that our joy may be complete” (John 19:26; 1 John 1:4). We too are disciples whom Jesus loves, and so if our joy is to be complete, we too must share the saving love of Christ with others.

Child Abuse Prevention Month: Protecting the Innocent and Vulnerable Among Us

April 13th, 2015

Silhouettes of Cheerful Children Playing Balloons Outdoors

Children are precious. Their simplicity, their sense of wonder and enthusiasm, their laughter at play are all infectious. Their innate way of receiving and giving tenderness, their way of seeing reality with a trusting and pure gaze, cannot fail to touch our hearts and fill us with hope for tomorrow, Pope Francis recently observed.

Children are truly a gift. Yet, as with all else in this fallen world, young people are subject to the human condition. Some are raised in poverty and poor living conditions despite the best efforts of their parents. But others have had grave wrongs perpetrated against them, including physical, mental, emotional and/or sexual abuse.

To draw attention to this evil and what we can do about it, April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. During this month, government agencies, community groups, and churches are encouraged to work together to share child abuse and neglect prevention strategies and promote the well-being of children and families. This responsibility belongs to everyone as a matter of charity and justice, and the Archdiocese of Washington is strongly committed to child safety in the Church and throughout society.

“Concern for the child, even before birth, from the first moment of conception and then throughout the years of infancy and youth is the primary and fundamental test of the relationship of one human being to another,” said Saint John Paul II in an address to the United Nations (Familiaris Consortio, 26). We can all do our part to protect the dignity of all human life and ensure our children are in safe environments at home, at school, in our neighborhoods, and at church.

Our local Church has long been pro-active in protecting children. Since 1986, the archdiocese has had a stringent written policy on child protection, one of the most comprehensive of any organization – public or private – entrusted with the care of children in Maryland or the District of Columbia. This policy mandates reporting of suspected abuse to civil authorities, education for children and adults, and background checks for clergy, employees and volunteers who work with minors. Also included is information on healing for those harmed and what to do if there is an allegation. These efforts are overseen by a Child Protection Advisory Board of predominantly lay experts.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a variety of child abuse prevention resources on its website. The archdiocese has also developed a series of safety tips, including advice on Internet safety, sexting, healthy teen relationships, and bullying. Children in archdiocesan schools and religious education programs are also taught how to recognize abuse and protect themselves.

Our efforts to combat child abuse begin with ourselves, with our own families in our own homes, including our spiritual family. The Catechism reminds parents they have an obligation to love and care for the children that are entrusted to them by our heavenly Father (CCC 2221-31). Likewise, the Church that is our Mother has an obligation toward our little ones.

“Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children. They should also know that they have every right to turn to the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home,” Pope Francis has emphasized. Most especially, “everything possible must be done to rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused.”

Being most vulnerable, our young people require us to care for them and protect them from harm. Child Abuse Prevention Month calls our attention to this obligation in charity and justice. Let us all be vigilant in helping to provide a safe environment for all children and to help those who are victims of abuse find healing.

Bringing the Gospel of Mercy to Every Person

April 12th, 2015
Photo Credit: Jaclyn Lippelmann for the Catholic Standard

Photo Credit: Jaclyn Lippelmann for the Catholic Standard

A dramatic scene often appearing in movies and television dramas is the moment when the guilty person “throws himself on the mercy of the court” and begs forgiveness, pardon, and a lighter sentence from the judge. What heightens the drama is the uncertainty of the response. The judge does not always temper justice with mercy. The court and the law are not always prone to forgiveness.

Perhaps one of the reasons we are easily caught up in this type of story is because each one of us knows that, at different times in our lives, we have failed and done wrong ourselves. Each one of us knows in our own heart that we too have sinned.

Unlike the mitigated, contextualized, and limited mercy of the courtroom-drama judge, however, when we throw ourselves at the feet of God’s mercy, we experience in Christ the unconditional and unlimited depth of God’s forgiveness.

Jesus is the incarnation of mercy. He makes the mercy of God physically and visibly present to us. His outstretched arms on the cross are a powerful, visible, and clear sign of the depth and breadth of God’s mercy. Every time we pass by a crucifix, we are reminded that God’s love is at work in our lives – not as an abstraction, but every bit as real as the presence of the crucifix. What a blessing it is to know that God so loves us that he gave us his only Son so that we might be redeemed from death in sin and have eternal life (John 3:16).

As the “made-for-TV-dramas” vividly portray, something in our human nature cries out for the assurance that our sins are truly forgiven. Saint John Paul II saw a fitting way to assure the world of God’s mercy by declaring that the end of the Octave of Easter would be a celebration of mercy.

The inspiration for this special day comes from the visions that Saint Faustina reported receiving, in which the Lord asked that a feast day be dedicated to Divine Mercy. With the readings of the Second Sunday of Easter focused on the institution of the Sacrament of Penance, Pope John Paul II in the year 2000 at the canonization of this religious sister from Poland declared that henceforth this day would be known as “Divine Mercy Sunday.”

In the Church, the loving mercy of God continues to be visibly present because Jesus takes the gentle forgiveness of an all-powerful God and moves it from the realm of human abstraction to something as real and as concrete as the priest’s hand raised in absolution in sacramental confession.

Sadly, though it is true that the Church is the place to experience the mercy of God, many people do not believe this to be true. For various reasons, some people even experience the Church as a place where God’s mercy is obscured or withheld from them. This kind of experience is one of our greatest obstacles to evangelization.

Pope Francis would like to see that this not happen. His vision for evangelization is that the Church might make clear its mission of being a witness to mercy. Our Holy Father has announced “an Extraordinary Jubilee which has at its center the mercy of God. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live in the light of the word of the Lord: ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’ (cf. Luke 6:36).”

The Holy Year will begin on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015. It is Pope Francis’ conviction that the whole Church “will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and rendering fruitful God’s mercy, with which we are all called to give comfort to every man and every woman of our time” (Homily of March 13, 2015).

Please join me today in praying that this Jubilee year will bear much fruit in the Church and will make God’s abundant mercy more visible to all those desiring to “throw themselves at the feet of their merciful Father.”

A.D. The Bible Continues

April 9th, 2015

The story of how the Apostles changed the world after Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead and later ascended into heaven unfolds in the thrilling new mini-series, A.D. The Bible Continues, which debuted on NBC stations nationwide on Easter and continues on the next 11 Sundays. The mini-series is produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, the team who brought The Bible to television and The Son of God to movie theaters.

A.D. The Bible Continues tells the riveting story of the very beginning of the Church with reverence, excitement, strong acting and dynamic special effects. As the story unfolds, we journey along with those who first walked with Jesus. Here we see how the Apostles and other disciples, empowered by the Holy Spirit, accepted Jesus’ mandate to go out and bring his Good News to the world. This small band of men and women who witnessed the risen Lord set out to change the world as they confront and ultimately triumph over worldly skepticism and a violent wave of persecution. That mission and those same challenges endure today, and people everywhere can find inspiration in this dramatic retelling of the origins of the Church.

Hopefully, watching this dramatization of the early Church will inspire all of us to go and learn more, including reading the actual story found in the Acts of the Apostles, in addition to the Gospels and letters of the Apostles. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website offers easy access to all the books of the Bible.

As we did with Son of God, the Archdiocese of Washington has again produced a catechetical video series, which will be accessible through our website at adw.org. Entitled, A Catholic Take on ‘A.D. The Bible Continues,’ the video series will have new installments available on Saturdays before the Sunday airing of each episode. A variety of other faith resources is available as well, including a study guide entitled, A.D. The Bible Continues: The Catholic Viewer’s Guide and A.D. The Bible Continues: Ministers and Martyrs.

Last fall, I wrote a blog series on the book of Acts, emphasizing how that story should resonate in our lives. Before ascending into heaven, Jesus tells his followers, “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Those words launch the Acts of the Apostles. They launch the early Church. We must allow them to launch our work as we share the Good News, as we manifest and extend the kingdom of God and witness to Jesus in our homes, our workplaces, our schools, our communities and our world.

In the second chapter of Acts, we read of how the Holy Spirit on Pentecost fills the hearts of the Apostles in the upper room and enables them to boldly proclaim the Gospel to crowds of people in their own languages. As a result, about three thousand people accepted the faith that day (Acts 2:1-41).

For the first disciples who encountered the risen Christ and who opened their hearts to the Spirit, life was never the same. That change is true for us today. As agents of the New Evangelization, we are called to renew and deepen our faith, grow in confidence in its truth, and joyfully share the Good News that Jesus Christ is risen and is with us.

Watching A.D. The Bible Continues and reading the Acts of the Apostles help us recover the wonder of the ongoing Christian adventure. Like the Apostles and disciples who walked with Jesus and continued his mission of salvation, we as his missionary disciples today are called to help in Christ’s work of salvation in our everyday lives. Their story is our story. Like them, we can change the world. The adventure continues.

Jesus Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

April 5th, 2015
Photo credit: Christ's Appearance to Mary Magdalene by Alexander Ivanov

Photo credit: Christ’s Appearance to Mary Magdalene by Alexander Ivanov

God our Father, creator of all,
Today is the day of Easter joy.
This is the morning on which the Lord appeared to men
who had begun to lose hope
and opened their eyes to what the scriptures foretold:
that first he must die, and then he would rise
and ascend into his Father’s glorious presence.
May the risen Lord breathe on our minds and open our eyes
that we may know him in the breaking of bread,
and follow him in his risen life.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

– Concluding Prayer, Office of Readings for Easter Sunday

Reflection Question: Having been saved from sin, death and destruction by Christ’s death and resurrection, how can I share this Easter joy with others in the way I live my life? How can I bring salvation to the world?

The Mystery of Life

April 4th, 2015

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This is our Passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire
destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin
and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace
and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

– from the Exultet, the Easter Proclamation of the Easter Vigil

Reflection Question: The time of our deliverance has come. How can I keep something this wonderful to myself?