April 5, 2020
An Empty Tomb! One of the many great signs of Easter Morning. The faithful women came to show honor & respect, to grieve & mourn, only to find an empty tomb! Jesus won’t be needing it any longer for He, who suffered and died, has now risen to live forever. The wonder, the joy, the excitement, the central Truth of our Catholic Christian lives – Jesus is Risen! And dies no more.
I can hardly be counted among the faithful women who walked personally with Jesus through Galilee and Judea, but I too have experienced the Empty Tomb. And here I’m not speaking of the empty church I found when I arrived Sunday morning… with pews growing dusty, hymnals untouched, and occupants zero! I’m not even speaking of one of my visits to the empty tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Rather I’m speaking of the true encounter with Jesus. As we’ve moved through Lent, by prayers, fasting, and almsgiving, even with the massive COVID imposed fasting and detachment, it has all been to bring me – to bring you – to this Empty Tomb. To this place where we encounter – not just spiritually but tangible in our bodies, our very being, that Jesus has conquered sin and death. That Jesus suffered and died on the Cross, not just to pay the price for our sins and justify us – that is, re-establish right relationship – with the Father, but that Jesus’ sacrifice has emptied the need for a tomb ever again. That each of us can move forward confidently in the Grace and Mercy of God with a life lived now and forever through, with, and in the Father. The Tomb is Empty, not just of Jesus’s body, but in a very real and profound way, even of my own or any faithful Christian’s body. For Death will no longer have the final say. Death will now no longer win. Sins still persist. My sins. Your sins. But now is the age of Life, of Love, of Mercy, of Forgiveness, now is the day of the Empty Tomb, which too will grow dusty and crumble, which we pray will have zero occupants. Now we have Him who will bring us new life as we live daily in Him. Join with me in rejoicing in Christ’s Empty Tomb. Join with me in praying that we may live faithfully forever in His New Life! Happy and Blessed Easter.
Christ is Risen indeed, as He said!
During these days when attendance at Mass has been curtailed and the ordinary reception of the Sacraments of Confession and Anointing are being deferred, I thought a note in order. I, and other priests/pastors, have been instructed to refrain from providing the Sacraments under “ordinary circumstances” (I think everyone is painfully aware of this). Ordinary circumstances are for those persons who are physically healthy but are needing/desiring spiritual assistance by Sacramental Graces. While I would love to attend to that, I’ve been asked to defer it to a later time.
However, if your situation is serious or grave, please reach out to me, so I can determine what I can do to assist you. What do I mean by serious? You are of an extreme age and your general condition is deteriorating rapidly. You are going in for surgery (since all non-essential surgeries have been cancelled, if you are still receiving surgery, the medical professionals think it is serious). If you are receiving treatment for life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, etc, it is serious. You have significant preexisting conditions and are now COVID positive would be considered serious. I/we can take necessary precautions, and I have more leeway when the person is still in their home. Most, if not all, nursing homes and hospitals are on lock-down, which means I will not likely attain entrance, even for Last Rites. While I don’t want a flood of phone calls, I do want those calls that are serious and need Sacramental attention. Please don’t wait until the last hours or minutes. I am prepared and have permission to do what I can and must to provide people the Last Rites or Sacraments in serious situations.
A big thank you to the many generous parishioners and benefactors who continue to support Holy Family by their offerings. Many are utilizing e-Giving. Many others have begun to mail in their weekly or monthly offerings. Both are greatly appreciated now, as always! I also realize that some of our members may be facing personal financial difficulties due to layoffs or furloughs, let me know if the parish can be of assistance. Our means are limited, but you are important to us, and we want to help. All of you, no matter your means or situation, are in my daily prayers as we get through this as a united family in faith.
He is Risen!
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries