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Joy in the Risen Lord

Catholic Review Column: Review in the Pew

“Things are looking up,” someone said to me the other day, “Spring is here, we have a new Pope and it’s almost Easter.” I had to admit his optimism was infectious. Even those who suffer from hay fever are glad when the days grow longer and warmer. And there’s a lot of joy about our new Holy Father, Pope Francis. A few nights ago I was at a gathering in Annapolis. When I merely mentioned the Pope’s name, everyone broke into applause. “He’s like a wonderful parish priest who became Pope,” one participant said to me.

It’s no secret that this isn’t the easiest time in the life of the Church. More often than the Church’s challenges and difficulties are highlighted – whether it’s the need to reform the Roman Curia, or the aftermath of the sexual abuse scandal, or the drop off in Mass attendance, to name a few. No one envies what Pope Francis is facing.

Yet he begins his awesome ministry with simplicity and love. He stood calmly and serenely before the throngs of people crammed into St. Peter’s square on the night of his election and he asked them to pray for him. People who know Pope Francis personally tell me he is like that. He is strong because he trusts in the Lord and in the power of prayer.

I can’t think of a better attitude with which to approach the Feast of the Lord’s Resurrection. This is day when we celebrate a love stronger than sin and more powerful than death. Once we truly open our hearts to Jesus and He becomes real to us in prayer, then we have no doubt that He walks with us in all the challenges and difficulties of our lives. And He remains with His Church in good times and bad.

If you regularly practice your faith and you see this short reflection, please accept my warmest thanks and heartfelt prayers. We are cooperators in sharing the Lord’s truth and love with those around us. If you are among those who were baptized and received into the Church at Easter, please accept a sincere word of welcome. What a source of joy and strength you are. If you are inactive for any reason – because of doubts about the Church’s teaching, disappointment over the Church’s leadership, or simply because you don’t see how it really helps you – please accept my prayers and my invitation to re-consider the Gospel, to allow the Lord first to speak to your heart, to become real to you, and then in the light of his love to take another look at your faith.

To one and all – may you have a joyous and blessed Easter!