Fearful Yet Overjoyed

Think back on a moment of life where everything changed. One of those crystal moments, where you know things will never be the same. Think of that moment when something you had been looking forward to became real; you were accepted at college, got your dream job, the moment your vocation became clear, the day of your marriage, the birth of your child.

These are such happy spots in our earthly lives! We are overcome with joy and delight. And, often, then reality sinks in. Can I cut it in college? What if I can’t? What if I am not as good at this job as I think I will be? Can I really spend the rest of my earthly life this way? Am I willing to give everything to get this person to heaven? What if I fail as a parent? How does this change tomorrow? Will anything in my life ever be the same?

The same can happen as we experience the joy of Easter. Christ is risen, Alleluia! Something so minor as death cannot overtake our Lord!

But the questions come, what does this mean to me? Is Easter simply the ending of my Lenten penance? Can I now go back to eating chocolate and putting cream in my coffee without giving it another thought? Can I pick up that weekly grande latte again rather than giving to someone in greater need? Do I just pick up where I left off on Mardi Gras like Lent (and Easter) never happened? What has to change in my life because Jesus has risen? How does this change tomorrow? Will anything in my life ever be the same?

The Church, in her infinite motherly wisdom, again provides. Easter is not a single day after which we put away the bunnies and baskets and go back to our daily routine. Easter is a season which begins with the rising of Jesus and ends with the descent of the Holy Spirit as the grand finale! Lent was 40 days. Easter gives us 50 days to soak it all in. We have time to meditate on the reality of Easter, not to be fearful but to let our senses, honed by abstinence and penance, truly consider what it means to serve a risen Lord. Our Lenten penance isn’t a thing of the past, it is now the prepared bedding where our Easter joy takes root. Our hearts and souls are ready to turn back to God for this time of grace and joy.

My prayer for you is that you are able to spend this Easter, all of Easter, not as a “getting back to normal” but as a time to find a new normal. To integrate in new ways, what it means to serve the One who overcame death through love. Like Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, may your joy at Easter so fill your heart that you run to share the news of Christ’s love with all you meet.

Easter blessings!

Contact the Author

If you catch Sheryl sitting still, you are most likely to find her nose stuck in a book. It may be studying with her husband, Tom as he goes through Diaconate Formation, trying to stay one step ahead of her 5th and 6th-grade students at St Rose of Lima Catholic School or preparing for the teens she serves as Director of Youth Evangelization and Outreach in her parish collaborative. You can reach her through www.youthministrynacc.com.

Monday in the Octave of Easter

Reading 1 Acts 2:14, 22-33

On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.

“You who are children of Israel, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
For David says of him:

I saw the Lord ever before me,
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

My brothers, one can confidently say to you
about the patriarch David that he died and was buried,
and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him
that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld
nor did his flesh see corruption.
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
he poured forth the promise of the Holy Spirit
that he received from the Father, as you both see and hear.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 16:1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

R. (1) Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
R. Alleluia.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
R. Alleluia.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
R. Alleluia.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
R. Alleluia.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Ps 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 28:8-15

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce the news to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city
and told the chief priests all that had happened.
The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel;
then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,
telling them, “You are to say,
‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’
And if this gets to the ears of the governor,
we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”
The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.
And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.

– – –
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Sts. Caius and Soter

Cauis and Soter, Popes of the early Church, are both venerated in tradition as martyrs, though no reliable account of their martyrdom survives today.St. Soter was born in Fundi, in Italy. The date of his birth is unknown but we know that he was Pope for eight years from 166 until his death in 174.Soter´s papacy was an example of what seems to have been the remarkable tradition of generosity exercised by the bishop of Rome. This tradition and Soter´s personal charity and paternal love for his universal flock can be evidenced from a letter to Pope Soter by Bishop St. Dionysus of Corinth, quoted in the 4th century “Ecclesiastical History of Eusebiusâ€�: “This has been your custom from the beginning, to do good in manifold ways to all Christians, and to send contributions to the many churches in every city, in some places relieving the poverty of the needy and ministering to the Christians in the mines, by the contribution which you have sent from the beginning, preserving the ancestral custom of the Romans, true Romans as you are. Your blessed bishop Soter has not only carried on the habit but has even increased it, by administering the bounty distributed to the saints and by exhorting with his blessed words the brethren who come to Rome, as a loving father would his children.” (IV, xxiii, 9- 15)In the same letter of Dionysus we learn that Pope Soter had written a letter to the Corinthians which was read in the Church alongside the epistle of St. Clement and was held in high esteem.Though his kindness extended to all persons, he was a fierce opponent of heresy, having been said to have written an encyclical against Montanism – the teachings of a heretical sect which believed that a Christian who had sinned gravely could never be redeemed.Pope St. Caius reigned for 13 years from 283 until his death in 296 just before the Diocletian persecution. He was a relative of the Emperor Diocletian – instigator of one of the last great persecution of Christians in the early years of the Church. Early in his papacy Caius decreed that a man must be a priest before he could be ordained a bishop.He is said to have been driven into hiding in the catacombs for eight years whence he died a confessor, however the source from which this information is gleaned is considered unreliable by most historians.Both St. Soter and St. Caius are buried in the cemetery of St. Calixtus and are venerated on the date of the death of Pope St. Caius.

Love Revealed and Made Real

I have been writing a lot about marriage in my posts recently, partly because I was recently married and the realities and beauties of marriage are fresh in my mind and experience, but also because marriage is the sign Saint Paul uses in Ephesians to explain the relationship between Christ and the Church.

This analogy can go both ways, in looking at a proper and holy marriage we see a sign for the relationship between Christ and the Church, and if we look at the relationship between Christ and the Church, Christ giving his body for his bride on the cross, we see an example of what a holy marriage should look like.

This sign, the cross, is what Satan will try to attack vehemently because it reminds him that he lost. Satan knew on Easter morning that Christ conquered sin and death, he literally rose above it. The only thing that Satan can do now is try to attack the sign of Jesus’ love that he showed 2,000 years ago. But the cross was not just a sign of his love. It was not just a revelation of God’s plan, but a realization of it as well. God’s plan was revealed on the cross and made real on the cross, in the sense that redemption is now a reality in all of us.

So it is with the sacraments of the Catholic Church. When Christ ascended into heaven he sent the Holy Spirit to be with us through the seven sacraments. These sacraments are not just signs of God’s love to his people but they also give grace. They not only reveal God’s love but they make real God’s love. They go beyond the sign to change reality itself.

Now think back to marriage. We hear in scripture that the two shall become one. This verse does not mean man and woman literally become one body, for they are still separate. If the husband dies, the woman remains. So they are not biologically one, or one in their being. But they are morally one, meaning that their thoughts, wills, and actions should form a oneness so they are no longer “me and you” but “we”.

However, the primary end of that “we” relationship is where two bodies create one. This happens when a man and a woman become a mother and father. Their bodies unite in such a way that a new creation is made that is of both the man and the woman.

Why is any of this important to Easter? Well, on Good Friday we just experienced Jesus giving up his body for his bride the Church in such a real way that Christ becomes the father and the Church becomes the mother of a brand new creation, through baptism.

“Whoever is in Christ is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.” -2 Corinthians 5:17

What Christ did on the cross allows us to not only enter into a “we” relationship with Christ but to be born again through this relationship. His love is not just revealed, it is made real. It is revealed and realized through the sacraments. With this realization comes responsibility. Now we can no longer use our humanity as an excuse for sin. “Well, I am only human.” It is precisely because you are human that sin should no longer hold sway in your heart because Christ has made you a new creation. So go praise the Lord this day. Thank him for his love. Take that love out to the world. Soak up the graces of the sacraments. Be a sign to the world of the love of Christ. That is exactly the sort of thing a human would do. A human who has been redeemed. From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

“For we are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.” -St. John Paul II

Contact the Author

Tommy Shultz is a Solutions Evangelist for Diocesan. In that role, he is committed to coaching parishes and dioceses on authentic and effective Catholic communication. Tommy has a heart and a flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. Contact him at tshultz@diocesan.com.