Holy Week and the Easter Season are always a really beautiful experience for me, as your Bishop. Our people really have great faith and I enjoy being able to see them celebrate these important days together as families and parish communities. In particular, as I celebrate the Sacred Triduum, I think of those many wonderful people I met at our Rites of Election and pray for them as they are received into the Church either through Baptism or a Full Profession of the Faith. I am so grateful to their sponsors, our catechists, and the many people in our parishes who work with the RCIA.
Once again this year, I was pleased to celebrate Palm Sunday in Charleston at the Basilica Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, where we had the Chrism Mass on Monday of Holy Week with our priests and people of the Southern part of our Diocese. Our newly renovated Basilica Co-Cathedral was filled with so many devout families on Sunday and with more than 50 of our priests on Monday, making this a wonderful moment in the spiritual journey of Holy Week that appeals to the human mind with so many moving images of people truly engaged with their faith. As I travelled to Wheeling for the Chrism Mass on Tuesday of Holy Week at our Cathedral of St. Joseph, I was once again aware of my own participation in the spiritual journey of Holy Week, together with so many of our priests and people. It was a great spiritual experience for me. Indeed, the deacons and laity, the choir with their hymns of praise adding so much to the liturgy, the Scripture and reflections upon them are a beautiful part of our life of faith. How great is the testimony of so many beautiful priests and people! What a powerful witness to the presence of God among us is available just watching so many who really believe and really live their faith in Jesus Christ.
Then we move on into Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Just to think about centuries and centuries of sincere and devout practice of the faith being handed on by one generation to the next among our faithful people, always reflecting the triumph of Our Savior among the people of God. Then, on Easter Sunday, to stand before so many wonderful families celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior: I look into these congregations and realize how much is being accomplished by these families of faith gathered around the altar, praying and singing together.
I am grateful to so many of our priests who worked so hard with our people throughout Lent to truly prepare for the celebration of Holy Week and Easter, so that all might be fully catechized and properly disposed to welcome the living presence of God into their own hearts and the many faith communities scattered across our Diocese. There are so many to thank who work so hard with our priests in our parishes to do so much for our people and for God in order to make this time spiritually rewarding. When you have the chance, please thank your own pastor or chaplain for his good work during the seasons of Lent and Easter.
We were fortunate to televise the celebrations of the Triduum and Easter at the Cathedral of St. Joseph to the homebound throughout the Diocese, enabling those who were not able to leave home or attend Church to still be part of these celebrations. Many great believers who are homebound or unable to attend and really want the experience of Holy Week and Easter, and I am grateful that we are able to offer the solace of the Mass televised from our own Cathedral to them. In the coming months, the Diocese’s broadcast of the Sunday Mass will be expanded to reach the Eastern Panhandle of our Diocese. I am very grateful for this opportunity to reach one of the largest Catholic populations in the Diocese and to help them feel more connected to our Diocesan Church. I also look forward to having the Mass televised occasionally from one of the parishes in the Eastern Panhandle in order to expose other parts of our Diocese to the beautiful Churches in our Eastern-most counties.
I hope that you and your families had a beautiful Easter and that you will make use of this wonderful season in the life of the Church to celebrate the wonder of Christ’s mercy and love. There are many opportunities during this time of year to come together as families and as people of faith: for the Sacrament of Confirmation and for weddings, for graduations and First Holy Communion, for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Enjoy these moments with your family and remember to pray for those families in need.