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Father Muench Says...

Celebrating the Resurrection

April 3, 2024

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Each year, I find the celebration of Easter the most sacred time of the Church year. In faith, we, Catholics believe in the Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. There is a former, traditional greeting between people at Easter time; it is still used among many. As you meet a friend, you would say, “He is Risen,” and the other would respond, “He is truly risen.”

The feast of Easter is prepared in an elegant, sacred way. We experience 40 days of Lenten prayer and self-denial. Then the wonderful liturgical remembrance of Jesus’ Last Supper and his institution of the Holy Eucharist. Then we celebrate that terrible Good Friday, and we walk with Jesus each step of the way up Calvary and truly find support and peace of the Lord as we are nailed to the cross of Jesus each year.

So, each year we are well prepared to celebrate the Resurrection of Our Savior. We remember the joy and excitement of that event through our Easter Masses. This is emphasized in a rather spectacular way by singing anew the “Alleluia.” On Ash Wednesday we truly bury the “Alleluia,” we will not pray it and we will not sing it until we get to Easter. “Alleluia” is such a magnificent word. I have often heard people use “Alleluia” in common parlance. I remember well ages ago, a youngster in little league who had made a great catch of a fly ball shouting “Alleluia”.

Easter is always about baptism. The Church baptizes the catechumens seeking entrance into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil celebration. Each one of us are invited to renew our baptism every year at Easter, and we’re invited renew our baptismal promises. For most of us who were baptized as infants, parents and godparents made these promises for us. Now as adults, we are asked to again make these promises. I renounce Satan, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God. I believe in God, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, the Lord, who was born of the Virgin of Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Baptism is the most important sacrament we, Catholics, ever receive. It is a call to dedicate our lives to follow the Lord Jesus in our lives. When we live our baptism, we transform our world, we make this world of ours a better place. As the baptized, we truly follow our Savior.

This year, Easter was rather different for me. Two of my priest friends died in the weeks before Easter. Easter time included two funerals. My ordination classmate, Father Joseph Sestito, died. We had studied together and often traveled together as priests. Father Joe served many years in the military as a Navy Chaplain and was always a great pastor of people.

Father Thomas McGrath, a priest of the Diocese of Syracuse, also died recently. He is my first cousin and a close friend. Father Tom was involved in schoolwork for a time and was also a caring and concerned pastor in many parishes, lastly at St. Mary’s Church, Skaneateles, New York.

So, as you see the death of my two friends had a profound effect on the way I went through Holy Week and celebrated Easter. The Resurrection of Jesus touched my life in a deep and meaningful way. I truly believe that my friends shared in the Lord’s Resurrection as they found new life with God and walked with the Lord in the glory of the Heavenly Resurrection.

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