Dear Parishioners: A note from our Pastor
Holy Saturday has sometimes been referred to as the “longest day.” For those of us who are closely bound to the liturgy, it finds us in an unusual position. There is no Mass of Holy Saturday. It is a day spent in prayer and fasting, but it does not provide the comfort or distraction of the usual routine. While the Easter Vigil is celebrated on Saturday evening, it belongs to the Resurrection. On the day of Holy Saturday we are joined with the experience of the first disciples as we find ourselves living with the grief of Good Friday and in the hope of Easter. Grief and hope live side by side within us.
Holy Saturday finds us turning to our Blessed Mother in a deep, personal way. It is in Mary that we see the deepest grief and pain. She has been given titles reflecting her grief: Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Dolours, for example. We look upon works of art such as the Pieta and seek to draw close to our Mother’s heart as we prayerfully contemplate the depth of pain she experienced. It is on Good Friday and Holy Saturday that we live the grief of the Blessed Mother and the early Church.
Yet it is also on Good Friday, in the darkest moments, that Mary’s mission as Mother takes on a new dimension. From the Cross, Jesus entrusts Mary to John. In doing so he also entrusts Mary to the Church and to each one of us. From the depth of her pain, Mary accepts her mission to become our Mother, and through her faith, as her children, the grace of hope is birthed in us. Even in the midst of unspeakable sorrow, Mary is leaning forward in hope of the Resurrection! Grief and faith are both present in the depths of Mary’s heart and soul. Mary’s joy and faith did not deny her grief.
There is a type of “Easter joy” that is inauthentic. It is a superficial joy that wants to skip over the Cross, deny the pain of life, and live in a state of constant emotional and spiritual high. Believing, as we do, that Christ is Risen, does not inoculate us from pain, suffering and death. What it does accomplish is to give us hope in the midst of pain and eternal meaning to our lives.
As your pastor I am personally aware of the sorrow and pain that so many of you carry. We are all grieving the loss of loved ones. In some cases the loss is very fresh. Even if the loss was decades ago the pain remains and can revisit us in a powerful wave of grief like the spike of a fever in an unexpected moment. Sometimes we may even feel guilty about grieving. We should never feel guilty about our grief! Our grief is an expression of our love. Yet, like Mary, even in our grief we live in faith and hope. As St. Paul taught:
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (Thess. 4:13-14)
Our Easter joy is a deep and genuine joy. It is a joy that the world can neither give nor take away. It does not deny the reality of sin, pain and death in our lives, nor does it wallow in it. It lives in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection. When I look out at our congregation, of course I see many in sorrow and pain. But most of all I see the faithful and even heroic people of the Church walking together through the Cross of Good Friday to the Resurrection of Easter Sunday. As St. John Paul II said, “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!”
Happy and Blessed Easter,
Rev. Richard F. Clancy
Pastor, River of Divine Mercy Catholic Collaborative