Madness of a different sort

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
What a year it has been! In the public arena the cancellation of March Madness last year was the first domino to fall in the world of sports at the outset of the pandemic. The impact remains strong one year later as we watch a near empty arena in Indianapolis for this year’s marathon college basketball tournament on its run to the final four. It is an apt symbol for the past 12 months.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

Although many have thrived and while others are creatively adapting, many families and communities across the nation and world are hanging on for dear life. Many are unable or unwilling to venture back out into the mainstream, while others are pressing to return to normalcy. We especially pause to entrust to God all whom the virus has taken in death, and for all who mourn their passing. The Lord’s cross is evident in their suffering, and we pray in the hope of the resurrection.

Paralleling the world of sports, the effect of the pandemic upon our worship services was drastic at the outset. Except for a world-wide pandemic who could have imagined that the curtain would fall down on all public services and ministries beginning in the middle of Lent and continuing through Palm Sunday, Holy Week, the Triduum, Easter Sunday and most of the 50-day Easter season.

Speaking on behalf of all the faithful of the Diocese of Jackson, that was March, April and May madness of a different sort. We began to creatively adapt on Pentecost weekend, and have stayed on course ever since. But our cherished public celebrations of faith over the past year closely mirror the world of sports and much more in our nation and world. It feels like we are walking through deep mud, or trying to walk tentatively on ice, when we are so eager fly on eagle’s wings.

Our churches have been amazing since the reopening last May. Gradually more and more of the faithful have experienced that we are balancing reverence with vigilance in our resolve to adore the Lord God and care for one another. Now, may our hearts proclaim the greatness of the Lord as we enter into the holist of weeks to commemorate the Lord Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.

We are still unable to usher all comers into a full church because our protocols must remain in place for the foreseeable future, but the dawn of new life is shining upon us. The palms will be blessed and carefully distributed. The Chrism Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday of Holy Week with the priests of the Diocese of Jackson who will renew their ordination vows. The Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick will be blessed, and the Oil of Chrism will be consecrated, all of which will be distributed to our parishes throughout the diocese. The commemoration of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, his death on Good Friday, and the outpouring of joy at the Vigil of his resurrection will be a departure from the desert into the promised land.

There is a deep hunger to worship together as the Body of Christ, to hear God’s Word and to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord. The psalmist express this insatiable desire. “O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my body yearns for You in a dry and weary land without water.” (63:1) “I used to contemplate you in the sanctuary, seeing your power and glory; for your grace is better to me than life. My lips will worship you.” (63:3-4)

Although it is not possible for the throngs to gather on this Easter Sunday, it is important to remember that the Catholic Church celebrates Easter Sunday for eight days through the Octave culminating on Divine Mercy Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter. Plan to celebrate the Lord’s death and resurrection at one of the weekday Masses, or at another time early in the Easter Season. Let us never forget that the “dawn from on high has broken upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

Yes, the Lord Jesus is risen! For many in our world this is madness. For those who believe it is the madness of the Good News, twelve months out of the year.

Locura de algo diferente

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
¡Qué año el que ha sido este! En el ámbito público, la cancelación de March Madness (locura de marzo) del año pasado fue la primera ficha de dominó que cayó en el mundo del deporte al comienzo de la pandemia. Un año después, el impacto sigue siendo fuerte, mientras observamos una arena casi vacía en Indianápolis, para el maratón del torneo de baloncesto universitario de este año en su camino hacia los cuatro finalistas. Es un símbolo idóneo de los últimos 12 meses.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Aunque muchos han prosperado y mientras otros se están adaptando de manera creativa, muchas familias y comunidades en todo el país y el mundo se aferran a sus vidas. Muchos no pueden o no quieren aventurarse al regreso de nuevo a la corriente, mientras que otros presionan para volver a la normalidad. Nos detenemos especialmente para encomendar a Dios a todos a los que el virus se ha apoderado de la vida y a todos los que lloran su muerte. La cruz del Señor es evidente en su sufrimiento y oramos con la esperanza de la resurrección.
Paralelamente al mundo de los deportes, el efecto de la pandemia en nuestros servicios de adoración fue drástico al principio. A excepción de una pandemia mundial, quien podría haber imaginado que el telón caería sobre todos los servicios públicos y ministerios comenzando a mediados de Cuaresma y continuando hasta el Domingo de Ramos, Semana Santa, Triduo, Domingo de Resurrección y la mayor parte de los 50 días de Temporada de Pascua.
Hablando en nombre de todos los fieles de la Diócesis de Jackson, esta fue una locura de marzo, abril y mayo o algo diferente. Comenzamos a adaptarnos creativamente el fin de semana de Pentecostés y hemos mantenido el rumbo desde entonces. Pero nuestras apreciadas celebraciones públicas de fe durante el año pasado reflejan de cerca el mundo de los deportes y mucho más en nuestra nación y el mundo. Se siente como si estuviéramos caminando sobre lodo profundo, o tratando de caminar tentativamente sobre hielo, cuando estamos tan ansiosos por volar en las alas de un águila.
Nuestras iglesias han sido increíbles desde la reapertura en mayo pasado. Gradualmente, más y más fieles han experimentado que equilibramos la reverencia con la vigilancia en nuestra determinación de adorar al Señor Dios y cuidarnos unos a otros. Ahora, que nuestros corazones proclamen la grandeza del Señor al entrar en la más santa de las semanas para conmemorar la pasión, muerte y resurrección del Señor Jesús.
Todavía somos incapaces de llevar a todos los que llegan a una iglesia completa porque nuestros protocolos deben permanecer en su lugar durante el futuro previsible, mientras el amanecer de una nueva vida está brillando sobre nosotros. La palma será bendecida y distribuida cuidadosamente. La Misa Crismal se celebrará el martes de Semana Santa solo con los sacerdotes de la Diócesis de Jackson, quienes renovarán sus votos de ordenación. Se bendecirá el Óleo de los Catecúmenos y el Óleo de los Enfermos, y se consagrará el Óleo del Crisma, todo lo cual será distribuido a nuestras parroquias de toda la diócesis. La conmemoración de la Cena del Señor el Jueves Santo, su muerte el Viernes Santo y el derramamiento de alegría en la Vigilia de su resurrección, serán una salida del desierto a la tierra prometida.
Hay un hambre profunda de adorar juntos como el Cuerpo de Cristo, de escuchar la Palabra de Dios y de recibir el Cuerpo y la Sangre del Señor. El salmista expresa este deseo insaciable. “¡Dios mío, tú eres mi Dios! Con ansias te busco, pues tengo sed de ti; mi ser entero te desea, cual tierra árida, sedienta, sin agua.” (Salmo 63: 1) “Solía contemplarte en el santuario, viendo tu poder y tu gloria; porque mejor me es tu gracia que la vida. Mis labios te adorarán“. (Salmo 63: 3-4)
Aunque no es posible que las multitudes se reúnan en este Domingo de Pascua, es importante recordar que la Iglesia Católica celebra el Domingo de Pascua durante ocho días hasta la Octava que culmina con el Domingo de la Divina Misericordia, el segundo domingo de Pascua. Planee celebrar la muerte y resurrección del Señor en una de las Misas entre semana o en otro momento a principios de la temporada de Pascua. No olvidemos nunca que “nuestro Dios, en su gran misericordia, nos trae de lo alto el sol de un nuevo día, para dar luz a los que viven en la más profunda oscuridad, y dirigir nuestros pasos por el camino de la paz.” (Lucas 1:78-79)
¡Sí, el Señor Jesús ha resucitado! Para muchos en nuestro mundo esto es una locura. Para los que creen, es la locura de la Buena Nueva, doce meses al año.

Gift of the Holy Spirit connects people to Christ, pope says at audience

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Every Christian is unique because the Holy Spirit inspires something new and original in each person, creating “an endless field of holiness,” Pope Francis said.
“The one God, the Trinity of love, allows the variety of witnesses to flourish – all are equal in dignity, but also unique in the beauty that the Spirit has willed to be expressed in each of those whom God’s mercy has made his children,” the pope said March 17 during his weekly general audience.
During the audience livestreamed from the library of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis concluded his series of talks about prayer by looking at prayer as a relationship with the Holy Trinity, in particular with the Holy Spirit.
“The first gift of every Christian existence is the Holy Spirit,” he said. It is the key, essential gift because without the Holy Spirit, “there is no relationship with Christ and with the Father.”
The Spirit opens the human heart to Christ’s presence “and draws it into that ‘vortex’ of love that is the very heart of God,” he said.
The Holy Spirit “dwells in us; it is he who transforms us deeply and makes us experience the moving joy of being loved by God as his true children,” the pope said.
The Spirit writes the story of the church and of the world, he said, and “we are open pages, available to receive his handwriting.”
“In each of us, the Spirit composes original works because there is never one Christian who is completely identical to another,” creating a vast and flourishing “field of holiness.”

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican March 17, 2021. The pope spoke about the role of the Holy Spirit in making Jesus present in people’s lives. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The church invites the faithful to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, to make Christ present so he can guide and transform his disciples, he added.
Calling on the Spirit for support and inspiration is important, especially when one has not prayed in a long time, has lost the desire to pray or recites prayers “like a parrot,” with no depth of feeling or faith, he said.
“This is the moment to say to the Spirit, ‘Come. Come, Holy Spirit and warm my heart. Come, teach me to pray, teach me to look to the Father, the son, teach me the way the path of faith goes, teach me to love, and above all, teach me to have an attitude of hope.’”
“If Christ were only far away in time, we would be alone and lost in the world,” Pope Francis said, but with the Spirit, “the possibility of encountering Christ is open to Christians of every time and place.”
Christians must “keep alive this flame” of the Holy Spirit, of God’s love, in their heart, the pope said, the same way the lamp next to the tabernacle stays lit “even when the church empties and darkness falls, even when the church is closed.”
“No one sees it, yet it burns before the Lord,” he said. “That’s how the Spirit is in our heart, always present like that lamp.”

An unlikely affinity

IN EXILE
By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
One of Dorothy Day’s favorite saints was Therese of Lisieux, Therese Martin, the saint we call “the Little Flower.” At first glance, this might look like a strange affinity. Dorothy Day was the ultimate activist for justice, protesting in the streets, being arrested, going to prison, and starting a community and a newspaper, the Catholic Worker, in service of the poor. Therese of Lisieux was a contemplative nun, hidden away in an obscure convent in a small town in France. Indeed, during her whole life, except for one brief trip to visit to Rome with her family and parish, she never left her small town and, at her death, was probably known by fewer than two hundred people. Moreover, in her writings, one finds precious little that might be considered explicitly prophetic in terms of social justice. She wrote as a mystic, with a focus on the interior life and on our personal intimacy with Jesus. Not exactly the stuff of protests in the streets. So why did Dorothy Day, whose life looks so different, have an affinity for this young recluse?
Dorothy Day was drawn to Therese’s spirituality because she understood it beyond its popular misconception. Among all known saints, Therese of Lisieux stands out as one of the most popular saints of all time and as one of the most misunderstood saints of all time, and her popularity is part of the problem. Popular devotion has encrusted her person and spirituality in an over-simplistic piety that generally serves to hide her real depth. Therese termed her spirituality “the little way.” Popular piety, for the most part, thinks of her “little way” as a spirituality that invites us to live quiet, humble, simple, anonymous lives wherein we do everything, especially the small humble tasks asked of us, with fidelity and graciousness, unassuming, childlike, grateful to God just to be of service. While there is a lot of truth in that understanding, it misses some of the depth of Therese’s person and spirituality.

Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

To understand Therese’s “little way” and its connection with justice for the poor, we need to understand certain things in her life that helped constellate the vision that lay behind her “little way.”
Therese of Lisieux had a very complex childhood. On the one hand, her life was touched by deep sadness, not least the death of her mother when Therese was four years old and several bouts of clinical depression from which she nearly died. She did not have an easy walk through childhood. On the other hand, she had an exceptionally graced childhood. She grew up in family of saints who loved her deeply and honored (and often photographed) her every joy and pain. She was also a beautiful young girl, attractive and graced with a disarming warmth and sensitivity. Her family and everyone around her considered her special and precious. She was much loved; but this did not make for a spoiled child. We can never be spoiled by being loved too much, only by being loved badly. Her family loved her purely, and the result was a young woman who opened her heart and person to the world in an exceptional way.
Moreover, as she matured, she began to notice something. She noticed how when she was a child her every tear was noticed, valued, and honored, but that this was not the case for many other people. She recognized that countless people suffer heartbreaks and injustices, endure abuse, are humiliated, live in shame, and shed tears that no one notices and no one cares about. Their pain is not seen, not honored, not valued. From this insight, she articulated this ground metaphor that undergirds her “little way.”
Her words: One Sunday, looking at a picture of Our Lord on the Cross, I was struck by the blood flowing from one of his divine hands. I felt a pang of great sorrow when thinking this blood was falling on the ground without anyone’s hastening to gather it up. I was resolved to remain in spirit at the foot of the Cross and to receive its dew. … I don’t want this precious blood to be lost. I shall spend my life gathering it up for the good of souls.
From this, we see that her “little way” is not about privatized piety, but about noticing and responding to the pain and tears of our world. Metaphorically, it is about noticing and “gathering up” the blood that is dripping from the suffering face of Christ which this face is presently suffering in our world in the faces of the poor, the faces of those who are bleeding and shedding tears because of heartbreak, injustice, poverty, lack of love, and lack of being deemed precious.
Dorothy Day walked the streets of the poor, noticing their blood, drying their tears, trying in her own way to gather them up. Therese did the same thing mystically, deep inside the body of Christ. It is no surprise that Dorothy Day took her as her patron saint.

(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser is a theologian, teacher and award-winning author. He can be contacted through his website www.ronrolheiser.com.)

Called by Name

The following is an excerpt (with minor edits) that completes a homily I delivered on the 3rd Sunday of Lent. If you’d like to hear the complete audio plus a reflection on the content, please listen to my podcast “The Discerning Catholic” which can be found on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. 

The Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Lent, in which Jesus rebukes the ongoing business in the Temple during Passover, demonstrates that “we’ve always done it this way” is an obstacle to evangelization. The Court of the Gentiles is flooded with pilgrims and money changers and believers, and yet their activity is actually making it more difficult for the Gentiles to get a glimpse of what the faith is all about. If we are not careful, we can flood our own parishes and departments with practices that are stuck in their ways, and which can be obstacles to others joining in.

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

God will give you the help you need to make changes to your own routine that will bring you closer to him. God will help me take up my cross as I figure out ways to connect with young people that may not be in my wheelhouse. This is how we grow; it is how we become the disciples that we are called to be. And don’t settle for “this is the way it’s always been done” in the Church most of all, please! With the dynamic talent throughout our diocese who knows what can be unleashed when we work together? Bishop Kopacz has put forth a vision which calls us to Embrace Diversity, Serve Others and Inspire Disciples. That is a great place to start. The Bishop is our Shepherd, and we trust that he is Spirit-led in his efforts to build up the diocese, but each one of us has a part to play in bringing this vision about. 

Some might say, “oh these are empty words, they are just a nice thing to slap on a poster.” Well yeah, they are empty until we fill them! And are we? Are we seeking to embrace diversity in a true way? Not in just saying we appreciate other cultures but in engaging and learning about the differences and similarities we have and inviting people to come to mass that are not just in our social circle? In the Vocation Department I want our seminarian poster to “look like” our diocese. I want men from all corners of our boundaries and from all backgrounds, and I need to develop strategies and skills to make that happen. I’m planning on going to brush up on my conversational Spanish this summer in order to connect with the parents of potential Hispanic discerners to keep them in the loop of their son’s journey. Are we serving others? As Vocation Director I need to serve our seminarians and discerners by pouring myself out for them; by spending time listening to their needs and responding. We all are called to do this in our own way with those entrusted to us. And are we inspiring disciples? First of all are we learning from our Good Teacher Jesus and then becoming witnesses to others through that relationship, and is that relationship leading us to be joy-filled and attractive to those who are struggling with their faith?

We can’t just do the same old thing and expect a different result. We must become evangelists to the fullest extent of the term. We cannot only promote that which we are comfortable with about our faith, but we must learn more and more about what Jesus teaches and become so engulfed in God’s love for us that we simply want to do the will of the Father and nothing else. This will lead to a dynamism that is attractive, and which parts the red tape of “we’ve always done it this way” and leads more people through the doors of our parishes and through the doors of the seminary as well!

The Easter Vigil, part II

SPIRIT AND TRUTH
By Father Aaron Williams
When the Old Testament readings and their corresponding psalms and canticles are read, one of the more dramatic moments of the church’s liturgy occurs: the return of the Gloria. There are some interesting rubrics which detail this moment of the liturgy. The Roman Missal calls first for the priest or a cantor to intone the glory (i.e., to sing the first line). Then, the organ is directed to play in a festive manner while bells are rung and the altar candles are lit. In the older form of the Mass, it was not permitted for images to be unveiled or for flowers to be used until the Gloria at the Easter Vigil, so servers had to rush at this moment to unveil everything and set out the vases of flowers before the Gloria had concluded.
The liturgy is often meant to paint a picture for us of the mysteries we celebrate. Traditionally, the return of the Gloria at the Vigil was meant to mark the ‘moment’ of the Resurrection in our liturgical celebrations. There is a nice spiritual meaning to this, that just as the angels sang ‘Glory to God’ at the birth of Christ, it is fitting that we sing the same at His rebirth. This was more starkly represented in the older liturgies used in Holy Week when the chanting of the Gloria also marked the time when the priest would change from the violet vestments of Lent into the festive white and gold vestments of Easter.

Father Aaron Williams

The liturgy keeps this sense of drama when, just a few minutes later, the Alleluia also makes its return. The Roman Missal calls for the priest or cantor to chant the Alleluia with the people repeating it back. Then it is sung a second time, but this time I step higher. And again, a third time another step higher. This elevation of the key of the Alleluia is meant to symbolize the Rising of Christ, and our eager desire to praise him with the Hebrew ‘hallel’ — ‘praise be to God’.
The modern form of the Mass moves the Baptismal rite from its traditional location before the Gloria to after the homily. This seems a fitting change so that once we have both heard and reflected on Our Lord’s own rising, the new members of the Christian community then experience their own share in the death and Rising of Christ in holy Baptism. In ancient times, the catechumens would have, up to this point, assembled in a separate building where they would be baptized before being brought into the main body of the church. Many of these ancient baptistries were designed with eight sides so symbolize Christ’s rising as the so-called ‘eighth day of creation’. Even today, it is common for baptismal fonts to be designed with eight sides for this same purpose.
The ritual used to bless the baptismal font contains an odd custom, the meaning of which is likely lost to most people. During the prayer of blessing, the priest is directed to plunge the base of the lit paschal candle once (or three times) into the font, and then to leave it in the water until the prayer is concluded. This is meant to symbolize Christ’s own baptism. The prayer of blessing connects Christ’s baptism to blessing the water of the Jordan River: “so that the very substance of water would even then take to itself the power to sanctify.” The Paschal Candle is always meant to symbolize the risen Christ to us, and so it is fitting that when the water of the Baptismal font is blessed, the Paschal candle be symbolically ‘baptized’ as well.
In the modern form of the liturgy, the remainder of the Mass is much the same as any Mass. This wasn’t the case prior to the liturgical reform of 1969. Traditionally, the Easter Vigil wasn’t actually considered an Easter Mass at all — that was saved for Easter morning. And, so the remainder of the Mass lacked some of the normal elements which we would expect such as music at the offertory or communion as well as the sign of peace. These would make their return the next morning. The return of the sign of peace on Easter Day proposes a very interesting piece of liturgical drama in itself.
Traditionally, the ‘Kiss of Peace’ (as it is referred in the Roman Missal) was omitted on Holy Thursday night, since it was by kiss that Our Lord was betrayed. This omission would also occur on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. But, our Lord’s first greeting to His Apostles after the Resurrection was “Peace be with you.” Therefore, traditionally the liturgical rite of peace was saved until Easter morning.
Even though this is not a mandated rubric in the new rites, the rubrics of the Roman Missal allow for the Sign of Peace to be omitted in any Mass. Perhaps some parishes would be interested in adapting this small bit of symbolism by omitting the Sign of Peace on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday. If this is done, it might be helpful for the service leaflet to be printed with a note about this omission so that people may be made aware of the symbolism.
The Easter Vigil concludes with the dismissal “Go forth, the Mass is ended, alleluia, alleluia.” This dismissal is used at all Masses until the Second Sunday of Easter, and again on Pentecost. Tradition strongly recommends that this dismissal be sung.

(Father Aaron Williams is the administrator at St. Joseph Parish in Greenville.)

Spring comes to ordinary times

ON ordinary times
By Lucia A. Silecchia
It was a happy confluence of mundane events that brought three long awaited signs of hope in a single week.
First, the temperature reached 60 degrees for the first time in months. On that sunny and (relatively) warm day, everyone I greeted on campus, running errands, or walking in my neighborhood had something joyful to say about the spark of springtime that we all shared.

Lucia A. Silecchia

Second, I saw the first crocuses of spring bloom from my neighbors’ snow glazed lawns. As if on cue, these giddy optimists of the floral world burst forth with the solemn purple and bold gold of their blooms.
Third, the owners of a small-town ice cream shop that is a favorite summer destination of mine began a springtime countdown on their Facebook page. The post listed the number of days until spring and teasingly asked “Who’s Counting?” I certainly am!
These three events, coming together as closely as they did, were especially welcomed this year because it has been a long winter in more ways than one. There is something in human nature that seems to seek for the good ever more eagerly in challenging times. To me, the warmth of a bright sun, the bloom of a new flower, and the promise of ice cream to come are all things I am celebrating just a little more than usual this year.
A few days after the sunshine, snow fell again. There will still be a wait before other flowers join my neighbors’ crocuses for a genuine start to spring. And the promise of long summer nights eating ice cream on a park bench is still too far away to taste.
But, maybe the glory is in the glimmer. Maybe it is just enough to see that there is good that lies ahead. Maybe it is promise that provides the joyful hope that brightens the lingering darkness of winter.
Life, too, is that way. So often, what makes challenges possible to face is to be able to hope for what comes ahead and lies beyond today. Anyone who has lost a job and seeks another knows that. Anyone who has had a dream dashed and dares to dream again knows that. Anyone who hopes for the return of a wayward loved one knows that. Anyone who endures long days of illness hoping for healing knows that. Anyone who weeps at the grave of a loved one, with a broken heart that whispers “life is changed, not ended” knows that.
Lent, too, is that way. It is no mere coincidence that the ancient root of the word “Lent” is the word for spring. It is that time that bridges the darkness of winter, of longing, of weakness, and of suffering and connects it to the joyful hope of fulfilment, triumph and Resurrection after suffering and death lose their grip.

When I think of the joy that fills my heart when I contemplate sunshine, flowers and ice cream, I have to stop and think how small and, even, trivial, those joys are compared to what is yet to be and what lies ahead. And, yet, I am so deeply grateful for a God who gives me these small pleasures to cherish because He knows that, most often, my heart cannot quite contemplate much more.
In April, I will rejoice in the glory that is beyond my comprehension when Easter joy fills a weary world. But for now, for Lent, I will say a quick and quiet “thank you” for the promise of joy that unfolds when slowly and gently, spring comes to ordinary times.

(Lucia A. Silecchia is a Professor of Law at the Catholic University of America. “On Ordinary Times” is a biweekly column reflecting on the ways to find the sacred in the simple. Email her at silecchia@cua.edu.)

Father Myladiyil installed as pastor at Sacred Heart Greenville

GREENVILLE – Father Sebastian Myladiyil, SVD (center) bows his head as Bishop Joseph Kopacz and parishioners of Sacred Heart Church confer a blessing on him. Father Myladiyil was installed as pastor on Sunday, March 14 after being assigned as pastor to Sacred Heart parish in January by Bishop Kopacz. He takes the reins from Father Tom Mullally, SVD, who retired after 50 years of service. (Photo courtesy of Maurice Mosley)

“¡Aleluya! ¡¡Aleluya!! ¡¡¡Aleluya!!!”

Por Padre Clement Olukunle Oyafemi

Si alguna vez ha asistido a la adoración en una iglesia pentecostal, o una iglesia debidamente inculturada en África, o una adoración regular del grupo de renovación carismática (grupo de oracion) en cualquier lugar de los Estados Unidos, probablemente observará el grito constante de “¡Aleluya! ¡Amén!” Aleluya es una expresión hebrea que simplemente significa “¡Alabado sea el Señor!”

Padre Clement Olukunle Oyafemi

Cuando veas gente gritando y gritando; “¡Aleluya! ¡Aleluya! ¡Aleluya! durante la temporada de Pascua, podrías pensar que están locos. Pero, si puedes imaginarte siendo uno de los apóstoles, que siguió a Cristo muy de cerca, durante los tres años de su ministerio; y lo vio sufrir injustamente en manos de su propio pueblo; colgando de la cruz con sangre por todo su cuerpo magullado; y probablemente lo vio enterrado muy silenciosamente en una tumba prestada; la noticia de su Resurrección te volvería más loco que cualquiera de esas personas.

El cristianismo se basa en la resurrección. Históricamente, los apóstoles se reunían todos los domingos para celebrar el memorial de la Resurrección de Jesús; así, sin resurrección no hay cristianismo.

 ¿Qué celebramos en Semana Santa?

 En Pascua celebramos la victoria de Cristo sobre la muerte. Celebramos la victoria de la luz sobre las tinieblas y también celebramos el triunfo de la esperanza sobre la desesperación. ¿Cuál es el significado de la Pascua en nuestra vida hoy? ¿Qué desafío nos presenta?

Cuando el sacerdote enciende el cirio pascual, del nuevo fuego del Sábado Santo, reza: “Que la Luz de Cristo, elevándose en gloria, disipe las tinieblas sobre nuestro corazón y nuestra mente”. Cristo es la Luz del mundo, y es por eso que la procesión hacia la iglesia oscura lo proclama tres veces como Cristo nuestra Luz. ¡Cristo nuestra Luz! ¡Cristo nuestra Luz!

Este cirio pascual se encuentra en el santuario para que todos lo vean durante los cincuenta días de la temporada de Pascua. El cirio pascual es un símbolo de Cristo resucitado y por eso en cada bautismo encendemos un cirio por el bautizado. Sin duda, una vela es suficiente para disipar la oscuridad en una habitación, y cuando tenemos dos o tres velas así, hay suficiente luz para iluminar toda la habitación. Muy pocos cristianos auténticos y activos son suficientes para llevar la luz de Cristo a las tinieblas de nuestro vecindario, iglesia e incluso de toda la sociedad.

La Pascua celebra la respuesta de Dios a la maldad de los seres humanos. Para quienes vieron a Jesús el Viernes Santo, colgado impotente de la Cruz, puede haber la tentación de pensar que el mal tiene la última palabra; pero, por la Resurrección de Jesús al tercer día, Dios declara absolutamente su última Palabra. El mal nunca… nunca podrá y nunca tendrá la última palabra en la vida de los hijos de Dios. Jesús murió una vez y vive para siempre, por lo que tenemos el desafío de proclamar su resurrección con nuestras propias vidas. La Pascua nos desafía a permitir que Dios responda a una situación en la que todo esfuerzo humano es impotente.

Cabe destacar que hemos manejado muy bien el silencio, la reflexión, la disciplina y la penitencia de la Cuaresma. ¡Tengo la esperanza de que también podamos manejar la alegría, el grito de Aleluya! ¡Aleluya! ¡Aleluya! durante las siete semanas de la temporada de Pascua.

 Esta es la temporada de Aleluya pero parece ser demasiado para muchos católicos; ¡pero no hay nada de malo en estar loco por Jesús que murió por nosotros! Si los apóstoles y las mujeres de la iglesia primitiva fueran tan poco entusiastas y pasivos, ¡la fe habría muerto en el primer siglo! Nadie puede conocer o experimentar a Cristo resucitado y negarse a ser apasionado y loco por él. Es hora de que evangelicemos, de anunciar a Cristo resucitado, como hizo Pedro en la primera lectura de hoy. Es hora de que salgamos como María de Magdala y las otras mujeres que proclamaron con entusiasmo y pasión que Cristo ha resucitado.

Que el poder interminable de la luz disipe las tinieblas de cada corazón humano. Que la alegría de la Pascua continúe sosteniendo a la iglesia ahora y siempre. ¡El Señor ha resucitado! ¡Aleluya! ¡El Señor ha resucitado! ¡¡Aleluya!! ¡¡¡Aleluya!!!

Los cristianos somos gente de “aleluya” y quisiera concluir esta reflexión con una oración tradicional de la Iglesia llamada Regina Caeli, que en latín significa “Reina del Cielo”, que se recita en lugar del Ángelus en el 6-12-6 a lo largo de la Temporada de Pascua de Resurrección. La Iglesia nos anima a hacer esta oración tres veces al día, y eso nos da la oportunidad de gritar aleluya dondequiera que estemos; ya sea que esté en la iglesia, en su automóvil, en su cocina, en el trabajo, en la granja o en cualquier lugar. Esta oración se dice todos los días desde el Domingo de Pascua hasta el Domingo de Pentecostés. También es muy fácil de memorizar, por lo que puede convertirse en parte de ti.

¡Reina del cielo, regocíjate!

V / ¡Reina del cielo, regocíjate!

R / ¡Aleluya!

V / Porque aquel a quien mereciste llevar,

R / ¡Aleluya!

V / Ha subido como dijo

R / ¡Aleluya!

V / Ruega por nosotros a Dios

R / ¡Aleluya!

V / Alégrate y alégrate, Virgen María

R / ¡Aleluya!

V / Porque ciertamente ha resucitado el Señor

R / Aleluya.

Rezemos:

Oh Dios, que diste alegría al mundo por la resurrección de tu Hijo,

nuestro Señor Jesucristo,

concede, te suplicamos, que por intercesión de la Virgen María, su Madre, obtengamos el gozo de la vida eterna: Cristo nuestro Señor.

 Amén.

(El padre Clem-alias Clemente de Dios- es Coordinador del Ministerio Intercultural de la Diócesis desde 2020. Padre Clem tiene dos maestrías, una en teología y otra en educación religiosa, y una licenciatura en filosofía. Comparte con la hermana Thea la pasión por el Señor y la música, el P. Clem fundó el Rejoice Ministry of African Worship Songs -AFRAWOS- en 2002.)