Voices of Faith

The Third Sunday of Easter

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Dear Friends:

The joy of Easter overflows into 50 days of celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord. One day, even one week, is not enough to contain the fullness of the mystery. I think the 50 days enables us to gain some sense of “comfort” not only with the idea of the Resurrection (recall that it took the disciples some time to “figure it out”) but to allow its effects to take root in us. We can’t simply conclude Eastertime and go back to “business as usual,” because for the Christian the Resurrection of Jesus changes everything.

This past Monday Pope Francis issued a new teaching document for the church (officially called an “apostolic exhortation”) entitled Gaudete et Exsultate, “Rejoice and Be Glad: On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World.” He states that his intention is to offer an encouragement for each of us to take up the call to holiness and to give us some practical help. There is a lot in his writing that is helpful and accessible, and he reminds us that there is more than one “path to holiness”:

The important thing is that each believer discerns his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts (cf. 1 Cor 12:7), rather than hopelessly trying to imitate something not meant for them. We are all called to be witnesses, but there are many actual ways of bearing witness. Indeed, when the great mystic, Saint John of the Cross, wrote his Spiritual Canticle, he preferred to avoid hard and fast rules for all. He explained that his verses were composed so that everyone could benefit from them “in his or her own way.” For God’s life is communicated “to some in one way and to others in another.” (no. 11)

I look forward to exploring this text more deeply myself over the next few weeks, and to sharing its richness in preaching during the Easter Season.

Over the next several weeks we will be welcoming more than 100 young children to full participation in the Mass as they receive the Eucharist for the first time. Families have the option to celebrate First Eucharist at a weekend Mass or at a special group celebration on Saturday, May 12. Please keep our young people in prayer as they prepare to meet Jesus, who is present to us Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist, and if you are present at Mass when any of them are celebrating their First Communion, please show your support and encouragement for them.

We continue to build our participation in the 2018 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal. As of April 3 (the latest progress report as of this writing), we have $257,000 in pledges and gifts. We are currently the #2 parish in the Archdiocese in total pledges (behind St. Mary’s, Annapolis, a significantly larger community), but we are still nearly $50k short of last year’s total raised. At this point over our initial goal, 50% of every gift remains here at Saint Joseph to support our own outreach, charity, programming, and tuition assistance for our school. Thank you for your participation and generous support of the charitable works of the Archdiocese.

God’s peace to you this week,

Fr. Rick