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Father Muench Says...

A prayerful walk through the Easter Season

May 9, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I would like to begin today by recognizing the many accomplishments, the great accomplishments of our diocesan Office of Catholic Charities.

Ever since I became a parish priest in this diocese, I have known of the importance of Catholic Charities in the ministry of all of our parishes in bringing help – financial and in many other ways -  to those in need.  So, today, I want to take this opportunity to offer my gratitude and my congratulations to the many priests, Sisters, lay men and women, who have staffed our Catholic Charities Offices so successfully.

Our Diocese can be very proud and fortunate in having the presence of Catholic Charities in offering help to each parish in the Diocese in giving help to the needy.
We are still celebrating liturgically the Easter Season.  The Easter Season, these weeks between Easter Season and the Pentecost is our time through the Scriptures at Mass to remember and restudy the experiences of the early days in the formation of our Church.

We read a great deal from the Acts of the Apostles at Mass.  The Acts is St. Luke’s description of the days and years after Jesus’ crucifixion as the message of Jesus was spread throughout the world.

For me, it is interesting to hear of the various challenges and the difficulties and the controversies among the leaders of the Church during those times.  There are some parts of the story that make me wonder a bit how our Church ever made it.  I often mention that I consider the biggest Christian miracle is that our Catholic Church still exists today, that we followers of Jesus are still united and continue to worship regularly as a community, as a parish.

The Gospels that we read during this Easter season show us the important messages of Jesus that were used to teach the people throughout the years, messages that continue to show us how to be Church.  On one of the Sundays we read the Good Shepherd Gospel.  Jesus promises to be like a good Shepherd toward us his sheep, his followers, his disciples, always ready to protect us and watch over us and direct us.  He will not desert us like the hired man in the parable.

On another Sunday, the Gospel tells us of Jesus’ great love for us.  He loves us so intensely that he wants to be like a friend to us.  Jesus, the Son of God, became one of us, lived among us, died for us, rose form the dead and wanted to become a loving part of our lives.

There is also the Gospel image given us in the parable of the vine and the branches.  Again, Jesus wants us to realize the importance of our relationship and connection with him.  As the image of the vine and the branches indicates – just as a branch finds its life only when connected with the vine, we Christians find our life by our union with Jesus.  When we allow Jesus to be part of our lives, we will find life, the life of Our Savior, the life that brings peace and love into our lives, the peace and love of Jesus.

The image of the vine and the branches further reminds us that the Lord wants to unite us as a community, a community of prayer and action  as we bring the Lord into our lives to make our world a better place.

So, each Sunday as Mass we join together as a community, as a family to worship the Lord.  Each Sunday we should recognize our worshipping congregation, as our community, as our family for that day.  As a family, we should be praying with and for each other; no one is a stranger, we are all family.

Pope Francis writes this in his recent Apostolic Exhortation: A community that cherishes the little details of love, whose members care for one another and create an open and evangelizing environment, is a place where the risen Lord is present, sanctifying it in accordance with the Father’s plan.

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