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Alleluia–Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen! All of us at Assumption and the Pope Francis Outreach Center wish you and your family a blessed Easter. After forty days of Lent, we now celebrate fifty days of Easter. A wonderful explanation of the season of Easter and its joyful praise comes from St. Augustine. Below is his reflection (Office of Readings, 5th Saturday of Easter) on the “Alleluia” that we happily sing at Easter.

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg

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Our thoughts in this present life should turn on the praise of God, because it is in praising God that we shall rejoice forever in the life to come; and no one can be ready for the next life unless he trains himself for it now. So we praise God during our earthly life, and at the same time we make our petitions to him. Our praise is expressed with joy, our petitions with yearning. We have been promised something we do not yet possess, and because the promise was made by one who keeps his word, we trust him and are glad; but insofar as possession is delayed, we can only long and yearn for it. It is good for us to persevere in longing until we receive what was promised, and yearning is over; then praise alone will remain.

Because there are these two periods of time – the one that now is, beset with the trials and troubles of this life, and the other yet to come, a life of everlasting serenity and joy – we are given two liturgical seasons, one before Easter and the other after. The season before Easter signifies the troubles in which we live here and now, while the time after Easter which we are celebrating at present signifies the happiness that will be ours in the future. What we commemorate before Easter is what we experience in this life; what we celebrate after Easter points to something we do not yet possess. This is why we keep the first season with fasting and prayer; but now the fast is over and we devote the present season to praise. Such is the meaning of the Alleluia we sing.

Both these periods are represented and demonstrated for us in Christ our head. The Lord’s passion depicts for us our present life of trial – shows how we must suffer and be afflicted and finally die. The Lord’s resurrection and glorification show us the life that will be given to us in the future.

Now therefore, brethren, we urge you to praise God. That is what we are all telling each other when we say Alleluia. You say to your neighbor, “Praise the Lord!” and he says the same to you. We are all urging one another to praise the Lord, and all thereby doing what each of us urges the other to do. But see that your praise comes from your whole being; in other words, see that you praise God not with your lips and voices alone, but with your minds, your lives and all your actions.

We are praising God now, assembled as we are here in church; but when we go on our various ways again, it seems as if we cease to praise God. But provided we do not cease to live a good life, we shall always be praising God. You cease to praise God only when you swerve from justice and from what is pleasing to God. If you never turn aside from the good life, your tongue may be silent, but your actions will cry aloud, and God will perceive your intentions; for as our ears hear each other’s voices, so do God’s ears hear our thoughts.

The Resurrection of the Lord

On behalf of our entire staff at Assumption, I wish you and your family a blessed Easter! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Parish Launches Street Evangelization

Recently, we embarked on our maiden voyage into the waters of street evangelization. It was an exciting and fruitful two hours that we spent at Congress Heights metro station, talking with people about faith and distributing materials like rosaries and miraculous medals. We personally invited over fifty people to our church especially for Holy Week liturgies. It was all good!

Unbelievers

Well, maybe not all good. One man told me he was a Methodist, but didn’t celebrate Easter because he didn’t believe in the Resurrection. He stated that “thousands of people saw Jesus die but only three saw him rise. That should tell you something.” I tried to tell him that that number rose to 12 and then 500 as Scripture says. It has grown to millions and billions in the past two thousand years. He gave some other reasons why he doesn’t believe, but they were given in anger and profanity. It seemed that his problem was more personal than spiritual actually.

What would you say?

Nevertheless, if you were evangelizing (sharing the Good News) with someone on the street, how would you reply if they said they didn’t believe in the Resurrection? You can give the traditional points of evidence from Scripture – empty tomb, burial cloths and garments, belief and witness of the Apostles and disciples. I told the man that the witness of the Apostles is huge. All but one of the eleven gave their lives because they believed that Jesus rose from the dead, and died as martyrs for the faith.

Tell your story

But really, the best way to evangelize is through personal experience. If I had had more time with the man, I would have talked about knowing the risen Christ, and having a relationship with him today. If we speak again, I will tell him about all of the evidence at Assumption that Christ is risen.

First and foremost, it would be the joy of our parishioners. You all believe that Christ is risen, that life triumphs over death, that we all have the hope of eternal life, and you show it! Your joy would quickly melt away any sadness or anger of his or others.

It all starts at Mass

There are so many more ways that our parish shows its faith in the Resurrection. As with everything, this starts at Mass. We kneel before the risen Christ in the Eucharist and whisper the words of St Thomas, “my Lord and my God” (btw, Mass attendance is up). Think specifically about healing Masses, though. You come forward to receive blessings for healing with the faith that Christ will bring healing to your wounds, peace to your burdens, and joy to your sadness. It’s really the faith that Christ has power over all things; if he can overcome death, he can overcome anything in your life!

One visit to the Pope Francis Outreach Center reveals the faith in the risen Christ of this parish. You firmly believe that Christ lives in the poor (cf. Mt 25), and you feed him accordingly. This and so many other aspects of your witness to the Resurrection are greatly in sync with what Pope Francis has said:

“The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.”

May we experience the triumphs of our risen Lord and be a witness of them to others, and

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg