Celebrating the Octave of Easter
Easter greetings, my brothers and sisters in Christ! What joy as we continue in the Easter Octave, as we celebrate Easter not as one day, but eight wonderous days. Our celebration began on Easter Sunday and will conclude next Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, on April 11th. During this season, we remember the Good News that as God freed the Jewish people from death during Passover, He also frees us from sin, death, darkness, and hopelessness through His death and Resurrection. For the first disciples, Easter changed everything around them, and so I ask, for us does Easter change anything?
Many thought when Jesus was dying upon the Cross and uttered the words, “It is finished,” maybe it was indeed the end. The world would be descending into chaos, and yet quite the opposite happened. It was a new beginning, a new birth of a new creation—from the old order of sin and death—to new life. The attempts to destroy Jesus failed, and instead, He rose again and conquered death itself.
Jesus is not dead, He is alive, and that makes all the difference in the world. How much hope and courage can we draw from this truth. Jesus is the living Messiah, Son of God, and our Savior. The apostles would go forth witnessing for all they had heard and seen, sharing all God had done for them, which He also did for us. What a relief—how liberating and reassuring it is to know Jesus conquered sin and death, not only in his life but in ours as well.
We know and believe He is alive, and so we, too, become witnesses to that truth. Death only makes sense in light of the Resurrection. This faith that we profess needs to be translated into our daily lives and manifested in the way we live each day. As we continue not only through the 50 days of Easter but throughout our lives, witnessing to the Resurrection of Jesus the same way the apostles did.
April is Abuse Prevention Month
Every April, child- and youth-serving organizations — including many Catholic dioceses, parishes, and schools — participate in National Child Abuse Prevention Month to highlight the importance of protecting minors from abuse. These efforts are part of the ongoing work of dioceses across the country to carry out the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
“The scourge of clergy sexual abuse has deeply wounded so many people in our Church,” said Carolyn Shipp, who serves as the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese. “It has touched every diocese worldwide and continues to affect us all – laity and clergy – in significant ways. As we celebrate the joy of Christ’s Resurrection, we also acknowledge April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While no single statement or event can make up for the painful abuse of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, as believers we know that in Christ’s suffering, death, and Resurrection, we find hope beyond measure as we move towards a brighter future.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers an informative video on April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. That can be seen here.
Mass of Atonement
A special Mass of Atonement will be held on Sunday, April 11, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River. The Mass is planned as part of our Diocesan observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I will be the principal celebrant and homilist.
The Mass will include special intentions for the victims of sexual abuse and will conclude with a reflection offered by Carolyn Shipp who, as noted earlier, is our Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Fall River Diocese. All are invited to take part in the Mass of Atonement, however, because of pandemic capacity restrictions, those who are interested in attending the Mass are required to register here.
You will also be able to watch the livestream of the Mass of Atonement on www.facebook.com/3CFallRiver.
Last week our Diocese began a 5-week preparation period for the Consecration of Saint Joseph, which will take place during a Mass on May 1st, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, at St. Mary’s Cathedral (and also livestreamed on the Diocese Facebook page). The preparation consists of a weekly reflection and prayers posted daily on the Diocese of Fall River website.
This week’s reflection focuses on St. Joseph, Protector of Families, and comes from Renee Dee, the Director of Religious Education at Our Lady of the Cape Parish in Brewster. The daily prayers include the Litany of St. Joseph, recited throughout the preparation for Consecration to St. Joseph, and a new prayer related to the highlighted title of St. Joseph for the week. A prayer from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter for the Year of Saint Joseph, Patris Corde, has been selected for week two.
The preparation period is thirty-three days; however, if you miss a day, either continue by reciting the prayers you missed or picking up from the current day. If you are just learning about the Consecration, I invite you to read the reflections missed and then pick up with us today. You can review last week’s prayer and read my reflection on St. Joseph, Protector of the Church, here.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha