Holy Week and Easter 2024

My dear friends in Christ, grace and peace to you. Our Lenten days have passed so quickly. At least it seems so to me. We are about to enter our high holy days - Passion Week with Passion Sunday, also known as Palm Sunday; and then Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the washing of feet; Good Friday and the Passion of our Lord, a veneration of the Cross; and our glorious and festive Easter Vigil, announcing the resurrection of Christ. In addition, our Chrism Mass, on Tuesday, March 26, at 10:30 at our Cathedral of St. Paul here in downtown Birmingham, will bring together our diocesan community to renew priestly vows and bless the oils used for the next year, which will be distributed to every parish and institution across our diocese.

In some way, it is the most powerful time of the year from a spiritual point of view. All that the world was waiting for came to fruition in the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I hope you have an opportunity to participate in some, if not all, of these events at your local parish or at the cathedral. It is like our annual in-house spiritual retreat.

These events remind us quite clearly that death is not final. Death does not have the last word. Christ, through His suffering and death on the cross, defeated sin and death and opened the gates of Heaven. Eternal life is available for everyone, and that is why we can proclaim with the saints and our ancestors this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.

All around our diocese, those in our O.C.I.A., or R.C.I.A., classes who have been preparing diligently, patiently, and prayerfully will be admitted to the Church through the font of baptism containing the newly blessed water. Many more will be confirmed with a newly blessed Chrism oil, consecrated at our Chrism Mass. Still, others will be making their first Holy Communion, joining all of us believers around the table of the Lord as we eat His body and drink His blood. To be sure, the Easter Vigil is like gathering around the campfire to hear once again the great stories that knit us together as a faith community.

It speaks of a God Who loved us, Who wanted to share His creation and His life. And though we misused some of these gifts, we were given a savior Christ the Lord Whom the Father sent to find a way for us to be reconciled and reunited once again. Let's not waste a minute here. We thank God for His providential care. We thank God for the many blessings received. We thank God, above all, for His presence, the very presence of Jesus in the Eucharist: blessed, broken, and given to us so that we can carry Him to the ends of the world and at the same time be transformed ourselves from the inside out.

I join all the priests, women and men religious across our diocese, and our parish and diocesan leadership teams in wishing each of you a very happy and blessed Easter. May God bless you and your families abundantly as we celebrate new life. He is risen. He is truly risen. Amen.