The pastor of a rundown urban parish wanted an old-fashioned Easter parade to liven things up. So his never-say-die events coordinator made it happen. She got a permit to block the street in front of the church and rented a horse and buggy so the kids could go for rides. Her affable cousin John was given the honor of being the Easter Bunny—unfazed by getting stuffed into an enormous furry costume with a plaid waistcoat and polka-dotted bowtie. She made all her girlfriends and sisters wear elaborate Easter bonnets, and she coerced and cajoled every relative and acquaintance to come to Easter Mass at the old church. It was a charmed event that people still talk about 20 years later. The church has long since moved beyond its pitiful state to become the cornerstone of a vibrant inner-city renewal. Its pews are packed with hungry souls drinking deeply of the richness of this parish’s life and soul. But that humble Easter parade long ago marked the beginning of new life for that dying parish, just as Easter marks the beginning of new life for each of us in Christ. May you find a way to bring your own dreams to life this Easter.
Authors Patrice J. TuohyRestricted
My dad had a knack for gathering in troubled souls, and my mom had a talent for nurturing them back to health. My parents’ charges didn’t always stay well, but at least they were offered a moment of sanity in the chaos of their lives. At Easter I always think of Butchie. She was a beautiful young woman, the daughter of a work friend of Dad’s, who had a serious drug habit that she just couldn’t seem to kick. She’d worn out her welcome at the home of every friend and relation, so she came knocking on Big John Tuohy’s door. Dad said, sure she could come live with us as long as she stayed sober, kept a job, and didn’t give my mother any worries. My dad let her know he hoped she’d be going to Mass with us. “Next Sunday is Easter,” he told her. “Bonnets are required.” After most of the appropriately and demurely adorned congregation filed into church Easter morning, in traipsed the Tuohy clan. Hushed gasps and quelled guffaws followed as the congregation beheld Butchie in all her glory: red dress, red stockings, red shoes, and a red straw bonnet with black netting and loads of feathers. She looked like a crimson bird of paradise. The homespun life didn’t hold Butchie’s interest for long. But for one brief moment she stood in the light of Resurrection. I hope that light still shines on her.Authors Patrice J. TuohyRestricted
The parish I served before retirement held an annual egg hunt on Easter morning in the park behind the church. It was a delight to watch hundreds of toddlers filling their baskets with plastic eggs, each with a piece of candy inside. It used to be that a dozen of the eggs had a number inside of them corresponding to giant Easter baskets that a dozen children would be lucky enough to win. And that was the problem, because hundreds of children lost, and most of them cried. It got so competitive that parents were seen the day before, Holy Saturday, practicing with their children so they could gather as many eggs as possible and raise their odds of winning. We removed the competition. After that, it was just candy in every egg. Every child won. Everyone was happy. Salvation is given to us today by God who loves us unconditionally. We do not win it. We do not earn it. It is not a prize for some but a gift for all given through the death and Resurrection of Jesus.Authors Father Dominic GrassiRestricted
Holy days/feasts: Easter EASTER STARTED OUT a very lonely day. After that unspeakable Friday, the soul seeped out of the community once fashioned around a Presence, whose absence was now unendurable. Those who had gathered, were scattered. Danger was in the streets. Believers found themselves in isolated pockets of disbelief and grief: some denying who they were, others doubting what had once seemed so certain when He had been in their midst. Each suffered in a unique way, yet all suffered—just not together. Not sharing the grief doubled the burden. Peter kept reliving what he’d done—and what he had failed to do— that may have contributed to the death of one he loved above all others. Peter imagined others blamed him, too. Courage had deserted him. What’s loyalty, what’s love, without courage? Meanwhile, Thomas left his friends in their isolated chamber and went outside. Maybe he was foraging for supplies; after all, they still needed to eat; someone had to go out. Perhaps he needed time to think, to clear his head, to make a new plan now that the future he’d been counting on had disintegrated overnight. Maybe Thomas was just sick of being penned up with the same miserable people. Whatever the reason, Thomas left the group physically, just as Peter disappeared behind a wall of private anguish. The women kept up the routines of caring for children, cooking, setting tables, presenting a semblance of normalcy. But quietly, they were plotting to slip out at dawn, to perform one final duty left for them to do. And Judas, unable to live with his demons, unwilling to talk out the horror with anyone, perished in the dark night of his own soul. Alone. Pilate washed his hands and returned to his chambers to find his wife not speaking to him. She’d had a dream foretelling all this, and he had ignored her instincts. There was nothing left to say. Caiaphas was heard muttering for days: sometimes, someone has to die, for the good of the nation. Sometimes, someone has to be the sacrificial lamb. Easter morning started this way: a very lonely day dawning, all around the city. But it didn’t remain that way. Easter morning started this way: a very lonely day dawning, all around the city. But it didn’t remain that way. Because first, the women collaborated on their mission of love, breaking free of fear. Next, an angel greeted them, or perhaps two. Heaven and earth were being knit back together as good news dawned, its warmth and encouragement seeping into their bones. The women ran, at breakneck speed, to bring the news to the men. It took a while to get Peter and another disciple to agree even to verify what they said. Even so, empty tombs have many meanings. Which one would they embrace as their own? It’s the question each of us still has to answer for ourselves. The men and the women needed to come back together, to be united in spirit and ideals, and to just plain trust each other. Then, just a few hours later, Jesus himself penetrated the walls of their isolation and showed them a thing they could scarcely imagine two days ago: glorified wounds! These wounds testified that nothing can separate believers from the love of Christ: not trial or distress, not sickness or hunger, nor danger of any kind. Glorified wounds are what you and I take with us after every season of suffering. These wounds are blessed; yes, and broken. Filled with grace and the power to heal, so they can be shared forward in a future that dawns so much stronger, so much wiser, so much gentler than before. Easter 2020 dawns like no other one in our memory. It finds our community unable to gather in one place—yet we are not separated. Our social order is under great trial and distress, persecuted by an invisible enemy that can be defeated—IF we stay together, if we tell our stories, if we remain “united in spirit and ideals” toward the common good, which is the welfare of our families and our communities. And yes, we’ll have glorified wounds to take with us into the dawn, which is on the horizon, and closer than we think. Peace be with you. Jesus is with us. That good news you hear? It’s true.Authors Alice CamilleRestricted