Happy Easter! This Sunday, we celebrate The Octave, or 8th day of Easter. Every Year, this Sunday we hear the story of St. Thomas, who wasn’t there when Jesus first appeared to the disciples. He doubted, and yet when he was presented with the reality of Jesus, in that moment, he believed.
This Sunday, every year, we also celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, and the reality of the absolutely infinite mercy of God. Divine Mercy, a devotion special to St. John Paul II, comes from the revelations given to St. Faustina, a Polish nun in the 1930’s. She recorded those revelations in her diary, and those revelations would change the world. My favorite explanation of her message comes from the Marian Fathers who are charged with promoting the message of Divine Mercy. It’s as simple as A, B, C.
A - Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
B - Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
C - Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.
The great beauty I find in her message, is that anyone can do it. No matter our state in life, we all know we fall short, we all need God’s mercy, and there’s no shame in that. If even St. Thomas, one of the apostles, struggled to believe and asked for God’s help, if St. Peter denied Jesus, yet asked his forgiveness, there’s no reason we can’t ask for his Mercy in our own lives. When we look at how we interact with those around us, especially when we’re stuck at home together and tensions can run a little high at times, we can all work on being merciful toward others. I think too, we all want to put our Trust in Jesus, but that can be hard too, and we can struggle with it. So this year, with all the anxieties that I know are high right now. Let’s work to trust in the power and grace of Jesus Christ, that he will be with us through all of this!
One thing that touched me about St. Faustina’s visions, was how she described her vision of the souls in purgatory. She asked what their greatest suffering was, and said “They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was a longing for God”. Right now, I’ve had so many people tell me how much they miss receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, it struck me how much St .Faustina’s words speak to us today.
On a more practical level, I’d also like to update all of you on where we’re at as a Church right now through this pandemic, and what things are going to look like for the next few weeks as we realize, we’ve been in this stay-at-home now for nearly a month, and we’re slowly navigating our way forward over the next few weeks.
Videos: It’s my plan to do a video message each week sharing with you a short devotion and an update on some of the practical stuff in our Church. Please check our website and Facebook feed for these updates weekly.
Please also make sure check out our new Diocesan news site Proclaim!. Our parish has been featured in articles quite a few times in the last couple weeks. It’s nice to see good news about our Church!
Collections: A few weeks ago, in the paper, they asked me if I was worried about our collections. While, of course I wanted to be cautious, I expressed my faith in you and told them, I’m certain from all the stories I’ve heard of the pain that went with the merger 20 years ago, there’s no way our people are going to let anything happen to this parish! So now, I want to thank you for so far proving me right! You’ve all been absolutely amazing with signing up for online giving and mailing your envelopes in to the Church. Each week, we’ve been right on track where we should be, and between everything, our Easter Sunday collection was just over $10,000.00, right in line with Christmas and Easter last year! So thank you for continuing to support your Church! You’re all amazing!
Online Masses: The response to our streaming masses has also been amazing. Between the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, we had 519 viewers join us for the mass, and many of those represent whole families. Every weekday, we’re averaging 100 people virtually attending our daily mass. Yes, we all hunger for the day when we can come back to Church in person, but I want to thank all of you for spreading the word in this dark time.
Online Class: This week, I’ll be starting my first online class on “Prayer”. The first session will be relatively small until we get some of the bugs worked out, but I’m hoping it goes well and we’re able to expand in the future.
FORMED: I’d also invite you to sign up for a wonderful resource that we have in our parish called “FORMED”. It’s sort of a Catholic “Netflix” with all sorts of movies, ebooks, talks, and other resources. There’s some amazing Divine Mercy stuff there, as well as some excellent kid videos. If you’ve got kids or grandkids at home, please help them check out Brother Francis! Instructions for signing up are on our website and in the bulletin, but don’t worry, it’s easy!
Religious Education: After talking to Dee, our DRE, I wanted to make sure we were keeping in touch with our Religious Education families. I know it’s a busy, stressful time and we’re not going to make more work for you. But we do want to see what we can to help provide some useful resources. For example, there’s some amazing stuff on FORMED that I just mentioned that might be helpful to you right now. Unfortunately, we don’t have email addresses for all of our families, so we’re asking all of you to please visit our website. Under Religious Education, there’s a short online form to get your email and other information so that we can both share things that may be helpful, and get your thoughts on how we can help you continue to share the faith with your children.
Cemetery Mapping Project: I’m happy to say our cemetery mapping project is still moving forward. I’ve been having some virtual meetings with the CemSites folks and it’s going well.
Overall, things are happening, and we’re taking it one day at a time. Please know that you are all in my prayers each day. Please keep me in yours.
God Bless You,
- Fr Matt
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.