Divine Mercy Sunday Gratitude
Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. This devotion was promulgated by St. Pope John Paul II, who drew much comfort, consolation, and peace from it. St. Faustina encountered Christ Jesus and was told to be an Apostle of Mercy on behalf of Jesus. Mercy is a gift that we all need to receive and give. Some of us may have experienced (or presently do experience) a type of despair that there is no hope for us. God’s love and mercy, some may say, is for everyone but me. That is a lie from the Evil One. Divine Mercy Sunday and the devotions associated with it remind us that nothing can separate God’s love for each of us, neither our past or present ways of living; sins or failures; or our brokenness. That is God’s promise in the Risen Christ Jesus. One of the first of the fruits, gifts, and words of the Risen Jesus to people is peace. And we encounter that peace (that tranquil order) because God’s love makes God a God of mercy. I have experienced in my life moments and times of despair, believing without a doubt that God has condemned me, and doubting with full confidence that God ever could love the likes of me, let alone forgive me. We must never let anyone cross our paths with that doubt. So for this Divine Mercy Sunday, let us pledge to welcome people not to our parish: that is secondary. Let St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church and her members be heralds and conduits for anyone and everyone to encounter the Christ Jesus of Mercy, Forgiveness, and Peace. Grace and charity, Fr. Russell
Our season of Lent concludes… Gratitude abounds.
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Glory and Praise to our God, Who alone gives light to our Days!
It has been almost six months since we have worshipped in our church, and it has taken almost four months for its restoration. However, welcome back to your church! And yet, you have witnessed to everyone that we remained “church” by our gathering, worshipping, and communion during these challenging times. You have been Christ-like in your generosity with talent, time, and treasure. You have provided comfort and support to one another, the staff, and myself. Although we are thankful to God for our return, we are more grateful to God for keeping us steadfast and faithful daughters and sons during this time. More people felt that peace and lively faith in Christ Jesus during our time in the gym. I am positive this will remain as we re-enter our church, our sacred space.
Additionally, I want to thank those involved in the actual reconstruction. I want to thank Gilbane Construction and their associates Jerry Parsons and Ron (who was the on-site manager); Nicholas and his crew who repaired our pews; the painters; electricians; cleaning crew; Sandy Ramsey (parishioner who shared her talent and time) from Cotton, Wood & Silk; and, last but never the least, our parish staff. All these people and many more have committed many long hours to ensure that our church was prepared for worship beginning on the Triduum. We should keep them in our prayers for their meticulous work to details and their commitment to our project.
I also need to take this time to express our gratitude to Carl Granieri and our choirs for their ministry; Judy Mankowski and Marilynn Malio who assist our Director of Faith Formation and Liturgist (Camilo Agular Garcia); the members of our Arts and Environment Ministry for their talents shared during Lent and Holy Week (and throughout the rest of the Liturgical year); Mr. Tom Trombley and his family from Florida Evergreen who have supplied our flower and plant needs during special occasions such as the Altar of Repose for Holy Thursday and our Easter lilies; our sacristans, Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, ushers, and lectors; our money counters; and everyone who makes our Liturgies a rightful celebration our Triune God. Of course, we are blessed with our priests Fr. Luis (our associate priest) and Frs. John, Bob, and Larry whose assistance is incredible; and our parish staff who also are committed to our mission and ministry.
As you have observed, the church looks brighter, illustrating the glory, grandeur, and splendor of God. The crucifix and Stations of the Cross were donated by an anonymous parish family and remind us of Jesus’ unconditional and self-less love for each of us. The crucifix is essential because we come to the Lord Jesus’ sacrificial meal- the Eucharist. And we depart with the Risen Christ before our eyes with the acknowledgement and pledge that He is Risen and Lives! And we filled by the Eucharistic Sacrifice with our Risen Lord and God. Truly, Jesus is our Lord and our God!
The painting of the Last Supper has been placed in the vestibule as a reminder that we are called and invited to the Lord’s Table, where Jesus is both the Host and the Nourishment. The Eucharist is the source and summit, the center and pivotal focus of our worship and identity. Consequently, the Tabernacle has been placed behind the altar as we recall these ideas.
Spiritual and theological thought have been the “architects” that directed and reconfigured our sacred space. Our Faith Community has been the inspiration. We have undergone our own Paschal Mystery and now let us go forth and celebrate in the faith, hope, and love of our Triune God. We are a Eucharistic people who welcome all people seeking Jesus as Christ by remaining open and alive in the Spirit of our Risen Lord.
Peace and grace. Father Russell