At the luncheon following the Mass, while we awaited the readying of the Holy Oils, I had the honor of sitting with a classmate of mine, Bill Hisker, one of our two permanent deacons and his wife, Vera, as well as three of our "deacons-to-be" and their wives (they are looking forward to ordination to the diaconate in mid June). One of those men, Jeff Cieslewicz, is a parishioner at our parish and another, Bill Newhouse is a long time friend. Lunch was delicious, the company enjoyable, and God's blessing manifold.
The Mass of the Lord's Supper in the parish was simple and prayerful. We usually follow with a visit to a number of churches in the area (this year two) where about twenty-five travelled to watch and pray.
Our Good Friday Celebration was also a blessed time. There was a moment in my early priesthood when I felt this service very disjointed, but a number of years ago I discerned to take my time and pray my way through the three parts of the afternoon service. The evening saw Tenebrae celebrated in all of its stark simplicity.
The Vigil began at 8:30 pm according to local dictate, and apart from the difficulty lighting the taper for the lighting of the Easter Candle, it too was a beautiful celebration of faith. We used all of the readings and responses, which makes it long, but why settle for the Reader's Digest Condensed version when you can listen to the whole story of salvation. We welcomed a young man, Jared Orth, into the Church and I shared the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist with him. I received a beautiful letter from his mom and dad today, thanking me and us for welcoming their son and his family into our community. Our Easter morning masses were jammed. It was a good but exhausting Easter.
Last Friday I attend the Vigil Service for the funeral of my classmate, Father Dennis Colamarino of the Pittsburgh Diocese. I have written about Dennis before, and the outpouring of love and affection felt at his funeral liturgies (Friday night and the funeral on Saturday) was overwhelming.
I was not able to attend his funeral on Saturday because we had the first of two First Holy Communion Masses that morning - the other is this Saturday. Again, beautiful Spring weather, great and eager youngsters, proud families, and an awesome occasion made for a wonderful day.
Throw in a funeral for the mom of one of our priests, Father Tom Federline and Msgr Jim Gaston's mom's funeral this Saturday, and the death of one of our retired priests in Florida, Father Walt Bratus, and it has been a long and tiring few week. But Spring is here, Easter is being celebrated, life is good, and God's People are very supportive - which makes Life Worth Living!
Today is April 15th:
150 years ago President Abraham Lincoln died early in the morning after being shot the night before at Ford's theater.
103 years ago today the H.M.S. Titanic sunk with a tremendous loss of life.
And today is Income Tax Deadline Day!