*Easter Sunday Sermon – A Missed Opportunity (Update)
April 20, 2017 by Taking Life, Love and Faith Seriously
As a follow-up to my post about the “uplifting” Easter Sunday “talk” I heard that had nothing to do with the readings of the liturgy for that most glorious of all Catholic solemnities (Christ’s resurrection), I share with you the following uplifting comments from Msgr. Charles Pope.
“… Even now, though, the Lord, by the grace of His passion, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us a new life—a life transformed and increasingly free from sin, sorrow, regret, anger, greed, lust, and all forms of negativity. To be a new creation in Christ is to be more confident, serene, joyful, virtuous, and chaste. It is to live a life that is orderly and properly directed to our noble and glorious end: life with God forever. Jesus, in his resurrection, manifests this capacity for us to walk in newness of life.”
Easter Sunday Sermon – A Missed Opportunity
I heard a very beautiful, sentimental, loving, uplifting, tear-inspiring “talk” at Easter Sunday Mass this morning. No one could have left the church without loving the presiding priest due to his humble, sincere and loving demeanor and the message he conveyed along with his personal emotionally affecting anecdotes. The standing-room-only attendees applauded Father for his “homily”. I didn’t, but I understood why everyone else did because I was as emotionally moved as were they. However, Father’s “homily” did not relate to the readings in the least regard. In fact, they were not even referred to. The presiding priest was not our pastor. He is a priest from a far northern state who visits our Florida parish annually for Easter week and helps the pastor cover all the Masses. So many people come from all parts of the country and beyond to spend time in our beautiful climate and surroundings that our parish must have two Masses simultaneously on Easter Sunday. In addition to the Vigil Mass, we have four morning Masses, two in the church and two in the parish hall (for those for whom there is no room remaining in the church). There is also a Spanish Mass at 1:30 pm and a fourth (actually a fifth) English Mass at 3:00 pm.
Based on percentages that we are all familiar with, I can’t help but presume that many of our Mass participants do not attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of obligation. A gentleman sitting next to my wife told her that he had to walk around outside the church (our church has a marvelous prayer garden) before he could enter it. I took that as a feeling of guilt and if so, it was actually a healthy feeling for him to have. He did, however, probably along with 99 or more percent of the attendees, approach for communion (I can’t say that he or everyone else that approached actually received).
The point I’d like to make is that however emotionally moved everyone was, I didn’t hear anything in Father’s “homily” that might provoke a good many of his listeners to attend Mass next Sunday. I wouldn’t be surprised if some, if not many, don’t attend another Mass until next Christmas.
What a missed opportunity to inspire – more truly, to instruct – those who rarely attend Mass to do so every Sunday and holy day of obligation. And to remind them of the obligation to be in a state of sanctifying grace when they receive communion. Could priests not at least say “if you haven’t been to confession since you last failed to attend Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation, and yet were truly quite able to do so, please do not receive communion”? They could also add “you are welcome to come forth to “one of the priests” distributing communion for a blessing”. Okay, rephrase the message to be as gentle as you wish, but make the point! How else will they learn what they are missing out on, now, and might for all eternity?