he Fifth Sunday of Easter (C)
Dear brothers and sisters,
Sometimes it seems that we want the will of God to be accomplished in us, and through us, and for us, but that we want this to happen on our own terms. To put it another way, we want what God wants if what God wants is what we want. We do not want any hardships or persecutions or even any inconveniences. Instead, we want God’s will to make our lives easier and more comfortable, but that was not the experience of Saint Paul or of Saint Barnabas, both of whom knew that “it is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). This, after all, is how it was for Jesus; why should it be any different for us who claim to follow after him?
Is this where you are right now in your life of faith? Do you want the will of God to make your life less burdensome, or do you simply want the will of God, whatever it might be? If you do not know where you are right now, consider this question: When was the last time you prayed to God asking him to “constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery” within you?
|Andrea Vanni, Scenes from the Passion of Christ|
National Gallery of Art
Do you know what the Paschal Mystery is? It is the answer to all of life’s questions, for it is the mystery of the Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. To put it another way, the Paschal Mystery is the mystery of God’s love for us; it is the mystery of the love of God who sought us out, who endured unspeakable suffering for us, who overcame the sadness of the grave, and who longs to unite us to himself. The Paschal Mystery is all of this – and more – because no words can ever speak eloquently enough or simply enough to understand it fully. It is a mystery to be contemplated and to be imitated so that it may be constantly accomplished in us. The one in whom the Paschal Mystery is accomplished is, as it were, like a lantern from whom the love of Christ shines forth into every aspect of life, which is to say in one who is a saint, one who has been perfected in the crucible of the love of God.
The Lord Jesus famously said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). When the accomplishment of the Paschal Mystery is brought about in each of us, these words of Christ are fulfilled in us. His Passion, Death, and Resurrection have this power because
His Paschal mystery is a real event that occurred in history, but it is unique: all other historical events happen once, and then they pass away, swallowed up in the past. The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is – all that he did and suffered for all men – participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all. The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life.
The Paschal Mystery abides because it is the mystery of the love of God, by which, as Saint Augustine said,
we die to this world, and our life is hid with Christ in God [cf. Colossians 3:3]; yea, that love itself is our death to the world, and our life with God. For if that is death when the soul quits the body, how can it be other than death when our love quits the world? Such love, therefore, is strong as death [cf. Song of Songs 8:6]. And what is stronger than that which binds the world?
When the Paschal Mystery has been accomplished in us, we are indeed united with God in Christ Jesus our Lord through the workings of the Holy Spirit.
By now, many of you – if not all – know that I am soon to receive an additional assignment, another means through which the Paschal Mystery may be accomplished in me. As announced to the priests of the Diocese, the individual new assignments were to have been announced in the affected parishes this weekend and then made known generally this week. I have known the present change might be coming for a few months, but I only learned of it definitively about the same time as you. Only yesterday morning I received the following decree from Bishop Paprocki:
By this decree, I appoint the Reverend Daren J. Zehnle Pastor (c. 519) of Saint Peter Parish, Petersburg, Illinois, while retaining duties as Pastor of Saint Augustine Parish, Ashland, Judge of the Diocesan Tribunal, Director of the Office for Divine Worship and the Catechumenate and Post-Graduate Studies at the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein, Illinois, effective July 1, 2019.
In addition to the above-mentioned duties, I also remain Adjutant Judicial Vicar and Episcopal Delegate for Matrimonial Concerns. The fact that this appointment takes effect in the midst of my summer studies complicates things a bit more than I would have liked, but this can be an opportunity for each of us to embrace the Paschal Mystery more fully in our lives, albeit in differing ways.
I understand the rumor mill was active this past week generating a number of falsehoods relating to this news. I ask you always to ignore the rumor mill and never to take part in it, because it always and only causes harm; if you do not know with certainty if something is true, do not pass it on; it is that simple. Let me now take a moment to address three principle rumors I have heard:
- I am not leaving St. Augustine’s Parish. As the Bishop’s decree states (and as Msgr. Holinga’s letter also said), I will retain my duties as your Pastor, but will also take on the duties as the Pastor of St. Peter’s, as well.
- It is my intention to maintain my principle residence here at St. Augustine’s (I have too many books to move again so soon, and I only recently finished setting up my library), but to spend a couple of nights each week in Petersburg.
- While a change in the Mass schedules of both parishes will have to be made, nothing is yet decided. Presently, of course, St. Augustine’s has Sunday Mass at 9:00 a.m., while St. Peter’s has an anticipated Mass on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday Mass at 8:00 a.m. Naturally, at least one of these schedules will have to be changed. Likewise, a change will have to be made to the daily Mass schedules; St. Augustine’s has daily Mass Monday through Thursday at 7:00 a.m. and St. Peter’s has daily Mass Tuesday through Thursday at 8:00 a.m. What these changes will look like has not been determined.
How all of this will come together, I do not know, and, to be perfectly honest with you, I do not know if I have sufficient strength to fulfill all of these duties well. I ask your continued prayers for me as all of this gets somewhat sorted out in the next few weeks before I return to my studies and I entrust myself to the mercy of God and to the intercession of Saint Augustine and of Saint Peter.
As we continue in these days of Easter, we know
There is an inseparable bond between the cross and the resurrection which Christians must never forget. Without this bond, to exalt the cross would mean to justify suffering and death, seeing them merely as our inevitable fate. For Christians, to exalt the cross means to be united to the totality of God’s unconditional love for mankind. It means making an act of faith! To exalt the cross, against the backdrop of the resurrection, means to desire to experience and to show the totality of this love. It means making an act of love! To exalt the cross means to be a committed herald of fraternal and ecclesial communion, the source of authentic Christian witness. It means making an act of hope!
Having one time been grouped with three other parishes, you are somewhat accustomed to what this new assignment for me may mean. I am looking at this news as an invitation for me to enter more fully into the Paschal Mystery of Christ, as I think it is for you as well. Let us, then, endeavor to take up the Cross together, to lift it high in the confidence of the Resurrection of the Lord and to make daily acts of faith, love, and hope asking the Lord to accomplish the Paschal Mystery in each of us. Amen.