Christ is Risen! He is Truly Risen! The glorious celebration of Our Lord’s Holy Resurrection is so wondrous that it is not celebrated in merely one day, but through an entire octave, i.e., for eight days. During the Easter Octave which begins on Easter Sunday and concludes today, each day is Easter yet again. And although the stores may advertise Easter candy at 50% off, we know that Easter has just begun. For after the Easter Octave then we move into the Easter season which reaches its wondrous fulfillment on Pentecost Sunday and the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit upon the earth.
As is evident by the title of our meditation, there is no other Sunday in the Church’s Year of Grace with so many wondrous names. It is, of course, the first Sunday after Easter, and thus is called the Second Sunday of Easter because it is the second Sunday in the glorious time of Easter. During the Middle Ages in England and Ireland the Sunday was given the very charming name of Low Sunday. It was thus called to differentiate it from the previous Sunday (Easter) which was called the High Sunday. It is also called Quasimodo Sunday after the first word of the Entrance Antiphon in Latin, Quasimodo infantes (As infants…) Students of literature will recall the famous novel of Victor Hugo The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Many may recall that the hunchback’s name was Quasimodo. In the novel the future hunchback was discovered on the steps of Notre Dame in Paris on the Sunday after Easter. The canons of the Cathedral gave the infant the name Quasimodo after the Sunday of his discovery, since they never were certain of his birthday.
Another interesting name for today is Dominica in Albis (depositis). In English translation it would be called the Sunday of the putting away of the albs. It is amazing how much can be said in just a few Latin words. After the catechumens were baptized on the Great and Holy Vigil of Easter they continued to wear their white robes (albis) for an entire week so all would know the great grace which had come to them. On this Sunday they would remove their robes and place them in the wardrobe of the Church and simply wear their everyday clothing.
In our own day, St. John Paul II (canonized today) elevated the Sunday to the Divine Mercy Sunday. The Mercy of God, deserved by none yet accessible to all, was poured upon the world through the resurrection of Our Lord. On this Sunday we give thanks to God for the Divine Mercy. You will notice an image of the Divine Mercy near the ambo (pulpit). For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and upon the whole world! We come under the Divine Mercy whenever we go to confession. Let us all make the resolution to do so each month.
Canonizations: Today in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, that great courtyard of Christianity, the Pope will declare solemnly that there are yet two more saints. Now the world must bear the weight of yet two more saints. Both these saints were popes, but they are saints, not because they were popes, but because they loved God with their whole heart, mind and soul. They are St. John XXIII (pope from 1958 to 1963) and St. John Paul II (pope from 1978 to 2005). Pope John Paul II died on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005. Near the baptismal font you will see a little display with the pictures of these two new Saints of the Catholic Church. There are also holy cards (provided to us through the kindness of Dalton Funeral Homes). Please stop by the display and say a prayer to these two new Saints and take as many holy cards as you would like. Also included in the display are two photographs of St. John Paul II. In one he is speaking with the mother of a priest and with a thin, young priest with black hair. (The priest may look vaguely familiar). The photo was taken 21 years ago. In the other photo the same priest is presented to the pope at the inauguration of the judicial year in Rome, January 21, 1995. (You will see my mother and me during my years of living and studying in Rome. The Pope granted us a private audience and was particularly kind to my mother. He said to her (in English): You are blessed to have a son who is a priest. When I told him that I was a law student at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (where he had studied) he laughed and said the Church already had enough lawyers! He said to me you should become a parish priest. For that reason I always believed that St. John Paul II led us to one another). My mother came to visit me and made the long trip alone although she was then 75!)
Holy Week: Holy Week at St. Paul’s this year was most uplifting and inspiring. For that I am deeply grateful to all of you. I was so impressed with the faith and devotion of our people. The music was so uplifting as we heard the ancient chants of the Church. The Palm Sunday procession when we followed Our Lord into His own city was so joyous and grace-filled. I was particularly moved by the Veneration of the Holy Cross on Good Friday. The Roman Missal instructs us that there should be only one Crucifix for the veneration of the faithful. Naturally, that takes longer but it is a time of grace that we all need to be before the Cross. You may have noticed that our Squires held the Cross for us all and wiped Our Lord’s most sacred wounds. What a service they did for our parish! Three sets of brothers held the Cross (Daniel and Stephen, Joseph and Thomas, Paul and Jacob). They took their duty in holding the Cross while Christopher and Zelig held the sacred linens. Many of you commented on the beauty of the Crucifix. This magnificent crucifix (hand carved in the northern part of Italy by German craftsmen) was donated to our parish by a family who wishes to remain anonymous. It was donated in loving memory of Louise Loffredo and Sharmane Cromer. It will be venerated in our parish for generations to come. As the sixth pastor of our beloved St. Paul’s I had the honor to carry the Cross into the Church for the first time on Good Friday and to kiss it barefoot. During the veneration I was thinking that the 60th pastor of St. Paul’s will be barefoot before the same crucifix.
First Holy Communion and Confirmation: Our parish will be blessed to celebrate First Holy Communion on April 26th and May 3rd. May our little ones always be as close to God as they are on the day of their First Holy Communion. Our First Communicants will return for the 9.30 Mass on May 11th at which time they will be enrolled in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This garment of grace will give them many blessings. On May 10th Bishop Andrzej will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to our eighth graders. They have been preparing diligently for this happy day and we are grateful to Br. Joseph Bellizzi, Mrs. Shannon, and all of our devoted catechists and teachers.
Mass Manners: Some may recall that there was a newspaper column that gave advice about manners for all occasions. It was written by Miss Manners. I would like to begin something new with this week’s bulletin. I will in an amusing way call this section Mass Manners. In this section advice on behavior in Church and Holy Mass will be presented. I am very pleased with the reverence of our parishioners. When sometimes we may do things that should not be done in Church, I know there is never any malice; it is simply forgetting or being unaware of some things.
For our first topic in this new series I would like to address the issue of eating and drinking in Church. Naturally we do not eat or drink in the House of God. Sometimes there may be a presentation of a religious play or pageant in the Church. We should not sit in the pews with coffee, drinks or food. When there is hospitality in the Lower Hall, we should not enter the Church with doughnuts, cookies or beverages. Unless we have a medical condition we should not bring a bottle of water into the Church to drink during the Divine Services. Think of Our Lord’s great thirst upon the Cross and try to offer any slight inconvenience to Him in His sufferings.
This brings me to the next logical consideration. Gum should never be chewed in the Church. I have forgotten many of the regulations when I was in the United States Air Force, but one I will always remember is that no gum chewing was permitted on base. (I am not sure if this was a reg in the other branches of the service). This was because it was considered undignified to wear the military uniform while chewing gum and to safeguard the cleanliness both of the base and its personnel. While I was in the service our beloved nation was enjoying a long period of peace. In fact we were required to wear the BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) every Wednesday just to remind us how to wear it, since there were no military interventions occurring. Sadly, after 2001 the BDU was the normal daily uniform. Normally we wore the Class A uniform (blues) with highly shined shoes that had to be protected from gum. Chewing gum in the Church is not appropriate. Just think that the mouth which will in a matter of moments be filled with the Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ should not be filled with gum. Sadly, gum is often placed under the pews.
That will be our one thought for mass manners this week. Next week will be a few matters for after Mass.
Spring Gala: We are all grateful to Mrs. Paul Maturo and her hard working committee for all they have done for our Spring Gala. This is the major fundraiser for our parish. Please make every effort to support and attend it.
Daily Mass Chapel: During Holy Week, the ceiling of our Daily Mass Chapel was re-plastered and painted. John did an excellent and perfect job in the true spirit of craftsmanship. This work was a donation to St. Paul’s by a very generous family. Our Chapel is open daily from 7.30am to 4.00pm. Please stop in to make a visit to Our Lord. We see the comforting light of the sanctuary light burning in the red globe. It is a sign of Our Lord’s real presence. Many recover their peace of soul simply by being in the presence of Our Lord. We always leave His presence with a heart renewed. One may light a candle there as a sign of our prayer.
May God reward you for all you have done for me and for St. Paul’s. Christ is Risen; he is Truly Risen.
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda