Third Sunday of Easter

My dear parishioners and friends of our parish community: Jesus Christ Is Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! He is truly Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!

 As the continuing “50 Days” of the Easter Season unfolds, the scriptures invite us once again to ponder the mystery of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. On this Third Sunday of Easter, we join the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

 On that journey we are reminded that it is in St. John Church that we learn to recognize the presence of the Risen Christ. Here at St. John’s we find Him in one another, in the sacred word proclaimed and preached. Here at St. John’s we find Him through the reception of His very Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

 This third week of Eastertide, think of one way that you have discovered the presence of the Risen Christ in your life. Does your heart continue to burn within as He comes to you?

 This month of April we await the Apostolic Journey to the United States of America of Pope Benedict XVI (April 15th – April 20th, 2008) entitled: CHRIST OUR HOPE. What kind of Catholic Church will Pope Benedict XVI find when he arrives in the United States this month? There’s no doubt that the United States Pope Benedict will visit has more Catholics than the country to which Pope John Paul II came in 1979 or 1999. The Catholic population has grown from more than 59 million in 1999 to 64.4 million today, according to the official Catholic Directory. The number of United States’ parishes has remained relatively steady over the years with 18,642 parishes in 2007 with 41,446 priests. But the number of diocesan and religious order priests serving in U.S. Catholics has sharply declined. The priests are aging and retiring from acting ministry at alarming rates, with a rising number of Catholic lay people involved in church ministry.

 The most positive thing in 2008 is that lay people are immensely more aware of their responsibility for the Church present and future. The decline in the number of priests has led to more and more lay persons to take on the things priests and nuns used to do everyday. Pope Benedict will find a high awareness of multicultural U.S. Church than Pope John Paul II might have seen on any of his U.S. visits.

 Hispanics now make up an estimated 35% of the U.S. Catholic population, and more than half of all U.S. Catholics younger than 25 are Hispanic or Latino. With Mass celebrated in more than three dozen languages around the United States, there’s lots of work being done to promote multiculturalism and more than needs to be done.

  Join me in praying that Pope Benedict XVI will inspire a “revitalization” that will help American Catholics resist the increasing pressure towards secularization, to be part of the mass culture. Catholics in America DO need to be reminded we are in a struggle against the prevailing culture norms. We have to understand this is really a battle. Our Pope comes to support and love us! May we find ever new depth, meaning, joy and hope from the Easter mystery of Christ’s resurrection!

Blessed Easter Days,
Fr. Jim


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