“…OH, SWEET AND BLESSED COUNTRY, THE HOME OF GOD’S ELECT! OH, SWEET AND BLESSED COUNTRY THAT EAGER HEARTS EXPECT! JESUS, IN MERCY BRING US TO THAT DEAR LAND OF REST, WHO ART, WITH GOD THE FATHER, AND SPIRIT, EVER BLEST.”
An Easter Sourcebook, p. 114
As we continue through this Period of Mystagogia, it hardly seems like the Easter season. The weather certainly has not been conducive to spring, and the pandemic has changed everything in our lives. It is also unusual for us not to be in church or celebrate the Eucharist with each other. Life, as we know it, has changed, and hopefully, we are adapting to this change as well as possible.
The one constant is the presence of Jesus in our lives. In today’s Gospel, which continues the Priestly Prayer of Jesus, Jesus is reminding the apostles that he will always be with them, through his Spirit. We can easily see that he says the same to us, especially during this difficult time. Being reassured of his abiding presence and love can only motivate us to continue to live in faith and hope, as he invites us to celebrate this presence with each other, even if we do it from a distance.
For the apostles, all of this made sense on Pentecost, with the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is what energized them to bring the Gospel to all nations. The Spirit should also motivate us to live as a people transformed. We have been transformed by the death and resurrection of Jesus, and because of this, we stand as a sign of new life, hope, and resurrection to all we meet. Sometimes it may be difficult for us to appreciate this, but that is what Jesus calls us to be. We can bring this new life to our families, who may be confined at home and to the folks we meet in the supermarket, especially the workers who care for us. Sometimes, though, we may think this is futile. Reflecting Jesus for others is never futile, but should give us the satisfaction that we are being faithful to the Lord and all he calls us to be as his people.
Of course, we are also dealing with the closing of our school. As I wrote in the email last weekend, this was a difficult process for Caroline Ponterio, Principal, and myself. The dedication of the school’s faculty and staff was reflected in the trust the parents had in sending their children to Saint James. Some parents will choose to enroll their children in other Catholic schools, while some will enroll them in public school. Regardless of the school the children are enrolled in the future, they received a good education and formation at Saint James. The parents who are parishioners of Saint James will have to enroll their children in the sacramental programs here, if in Catholic school, or in our Religious Education Program if they are in public school. Life in the parish will be different without the school.
I always enjoyed being a part of the school. I would visit the school each day, and I taught religion one day a week to the 8th grade in the fall and the 7th grade in the spring. As much as I was able to teach the students about our faith, they did more for me than they could understand. It was a way we connected with each other in helping each other experience the gift that Jesus is for us all. I wish all the teachers, parents, and students well in their new endeavors and God’s blessing on all of them.
HAPPY EASTER SEASON!!!
~ Fr. Joe