A Letter from Father Tom April 7th

Dear Parish Family,

Hallelujah! Jesus is Risen from the dead. The Tomb is empty, Jesus is Risen and He is alive in us. We want to shout this out from the very depths of our souls on this wonderful Easter Morning.

However for most of us, this may continue to be ‘A Good Friday Moment” as Cardinal Dolan alluded to on Palm Sunday. We don’t have the church full of people, the beautiful Easter lilies, the bright white vestments, the people all dressed in their Easter finery. With most of the trappings gone, even the very Real Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion, this is a most unique Easter. All this isolation, virtual distancing and checking our phones for texts, emails, downloads. It can be disheartening. And yet somewhere deep in our souls, we can still cry out”Hallelujah”

I often wondered; how do people in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, China, Russia, even the Holy Land, Haiti, Nigeria, Sri Lanka celebrate Easter when there is a war going on. We find ourselves in this “War Time Condition”. The enemy is invisible. It’s a worldwide pandemic. We can think we are New York Strong, tough, compassionate, enduring bravely, yet Easter tells us an important spiritual lesson for our time. It’s not the trappings of worship, family celebration or even all the chocolate bunnies and eggrolling competition that make this happen. It is the undying belief that Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Jesus suffered, died and rose. So will we! We try our best to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, Our Risen Lord. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

For the next 50 days until we celebrate Pentecost we will see over and over again the many accounts of Jesus revealing Himself to the disciples as Risen Lord. He is directing us, like Doubting Thomas, to probe the nail prints in his hands, feet and side. Jesus is walking with us on that road to Emmaus and trying to explain to confused, grieving disciples, how the Scriptures were fulfilled; and then, with great astonishment, they totally realize it is Him in with the breaking of the bread. Their hearts were set on
fire. They saw the Eucharistic Formula of Jesus, blessing the bread, breaking the bread and giving to them his very Risen Self. All this is happening spiritually in your souls this Sunday. Let Jesus come alive as Risen Lord in your souls!

We are not on Holy Communion line, stretching out our hands to receive our God in the Eucharist, but spiritually he never left your soul. Did you leave him? That’s the question. We can become just like the disciples and be so stressed over who has the virus. Or worse still, who died from the virus, and the pain of not being able to properly bury a loved one with consolation or comfort of family and friends is indeed horrible. We are on hold. We ask being asked to wait So how can we cope with cabin fever, not shopping and being out of work, or having to work in risky environments. No one is denying that this is difficult and terrible. On the other hand this. is a time for Easter Faith.

Jesus speaks to our souls “It is I”, “Be Not Afraid”, “Shalom!”. He has conquered sin, death and all suffering. Yes, there is a time to mourn and a time to rejoice. How can I create in these tense times, a spirit of gratitude for the very gift of life and health and compassion? How can I welcome and have space in my heart for self compassion for this awful reality? Give it all to Jesus. Indeed, the real Easter celebration is how we reach out to one another and care for one another in ways that are patient, prayerful, and prudent.

I am praying to God, most especially for all medical personnel, for all military deployed to our city and locally, for all transit workers and essential workers, like people in our grocery stores. I am praying especially for all who mourning the loss of dear loved ones. I am praying for those who have lost their jobs and wondering how they will financially face the future. Let those who have help those who don’t. I want to end this unique Easter message with a note of gratitude for your resilience and loving kindness to us all here at Our Lady Star of the Sea. We will be busy with all sorts of Sacraments and I ask you tor patience as we sort things out. In the meantime, realize how loved you are by our Risen Lord.

Here’s a poem I would like to share with you.

When this is over, may we never again take for granted

A handshake with a stranger, Full shelves at the store, Conversations with our neighbors, A crowded theatre, Friday night out, the taste of Holy Communion, A routine check- up, , The school rush each morning, Coffee with a friends, The stadium roaring, Each deep breath, A boring Tuesday, Life itself.

When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be, and may we stay that way- better for each other because of the worst
– Laura Kelly Fanucci

A blessed Easter and the Risen Lord’s Peace remain with you and your loved ones.
Father Tom Devery