I will be on Fiat Ministry Network Tonight at 9:00pm

Tonight, November 8 at 9:00pm Eastern Time, 7:00pm here in Arizona, I will be on the Fiat Ministry Network for an interview with Kent Kuholski.

The Fiat Ministry Network is a Catholic Internet Broadcasting TV Network which encourages us to to say “Yes” to Jesus Christ, just as the Blessed Virgin Mary said “Yes” when the Angel Gabriel came to her at the Annunciation announcing the coming of the Messiah.

Fiat Ministry Network

It’s my hope that many of you will be able to watch the show via the Internet. To watch the interview LIVE, just click on the Fiat Ministry Network above.

+AMDG 

Cherish the time you have with your Parents

A couple of weeks ago I visited the grave of my father, Thomas Michael Perna, at the Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Mesa, Arizona after attending the burial of my friend’s miscarried daughter and my would be goddaughter. While praying, and crying, in front of Dad’s grave, I took a picture of the headstone with one specific friend in mind. This friend does not have the best relationship with their parents, and although it has improved recently, there is still a strain to the relationship. I sent them the picture below with the caption – cherish the time you have with your parents.

There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t wish I had more time with my Dad, especially today since it would have been his 70th birthday. Dad passed away on April 22, 2015 due to complications with Crohn’s Disease, after battling the disease for forty-years.

If your parent(s) are still on this side of Heaven, and you are either in your forties, fifties, sixties, or even younger than those generations, please call your parents today and tell them that you are thinking about them and love. Don’t text – call them!! If you see them on a regular basis, drive to them today and tell them the same thing.

Dad and I at Yankee Stadium – August 2008

You can’t imagine the suffering and pain you will feel once they are gone. I often ask for intercessory prayers from St. Joseph, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Pope St. John Paul II. To conclude, here is a quote from Familiaris Consortio about fatherhood, written by Pope St. John Paul II –

“In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: he will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife, by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church.”

Happy 70th Birthday in Heaven, Dad! We love you and we miss you! 

Last picture of Dad.

A Benedictine Priest, the Saint Ignatius Institute, and True Friendships

Over this past weekend, it was a great honor to witness, along with many other friends, not only the Priestly Ordination of another long time friend, Fr. Bede Clark, OSB, but also his Mass of Thanksgiving the following day. The ordination took place on Saturday, July 8 at Prince of Peace Abbey in Oceanside, California through the apostolic authority of Bishop Steven J. Lopes, the college roommate of Fr. Bede, and our mutual friend. Bishop Lopes is the first Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Here is Bishop Lopes’ Ordination to the Priesthood Homily.

Laying on of Hands

I have known Fr. Bede since 1994 (we graduated in 1997), when we were students in the Saint Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco. Along with others, many who attended this weekend, quickly became friends over twenty years ago because of our mutual interest for Catholic culture, philosophy, literature, theology, sports, and the overall love of being university students in a city as beautiful as San Francisco.

These friendships were planted in such rich soil, that even now, over 20 years later, many returned this past weekend to witness Fr. Bede ordained to the Catholic Priesthood. As one friend said, we all have skin in this game. It was a long journey filled with many pitfalls and sufferings for not only Fr. Bede, but for many of us who accompanied him along the way. In his toast to Fr. Bede during Friday night’s dinner, Bishop Lopes quoting Fr. Joseph Fessio said that Fr. Bede is the glue that has kept us all together. Although some friends were not able to make it due to difficult circumstances, they were there with us in spirit.

With Fr. Bede after he blessed me during his first blessings.

Personally, the weekend was a token into the past, into the city, and into the friendships, where I truly learned about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church for the first time, just as I experienced in June 2015. It was in the Saint Ignatius Institute where my heart was spiritually awakened and my mind began to understand my Catholic faith intellectually, the beginning of my true conversion to Christ and his Church. The three years I spent in the Saint Ignatius Institute were the best three years of my twenties.

I can remember spending many nights in the library, in the dorms, and in the classroom with Fr. Bede and many of the friends who attended this weekend. Some of my most memorable laughter comes from the words and actions of Fr. Bede, like when he threw a book out the window or when he called the aforementioned order that was educating us a bunch of crackpots.

The weekend was not only a look into the past, but an apparition of the present and the future. When friendships are planted, watered, and pruned as these friendships have been for over 20 years, you may not see them frequently, but when you do, you can pick up right where you left off. Since these friendships are rooted in virtue, goodness, and beauty, they are rightly true friendships [bold is mine], as the Greek philosopher Aristotle says.

For me, this weekend was very needed. It seems to be a pattern that when I need to see these true friends, they are there to spend time with, laugh with, and reminisce about the past and talk about our present lives. The ability to see another long time friend ordained as a priest forever, as well as seeing many true friends and the religious and lay people who taught us and guided us was needed and appreciated. It was a blessed weekend!

Fr. Bede blessing Sister Ignatius.

As I conclude this article, I ask you to pray for four things –

1. Please pray for Fr. Bede Clark as he begins his priestly ministry among his Benedictine brothers and to the people the monastery serves in San Diego.

2. Pray for vocations to the Catholic Priesthood and also among the Order of St. Benedict.

3. Pray for the rise and continued growth of good Catholic universities and institutions, like the once great Saint Ignatius Institute.

4. Pray for good, selfless, self-sacrificial friendships rooted in virtue, goodness, and beauty. As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “there is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

This blog post is dedicated to not only Fr. Bede Clark, but to all the administrators, students and professors of the St. Ignatius Institute between the years of 1976-2001. 

Newly ordained Fr. Bede with Bishop Steven J. Lopes behind him.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Virgin in The Spirit of Catholicism

Although I read many fantastic books during my two years of graduate school at Franciscan University of Steubenville (2008-2010), one of my favorite books became The Spirit of Catholicism by Karl Adam. Since reading it, I usually suggest it to Catholics that are seeking a deeper understanding of the organic nature and growth of the Catholic Church from the time of Christ till today. When I read it in graduate school, I was pumping my fist in the air often in the John Paul II Library because it truly makes you feel proud to be a Catholic, especially in a culture like today.

Even though I have never suggested it to any non-Catholics, it would be good to give to your non-Catholic friends, because it could help them understand that organic nature as well. As you read it, you can see that he is answering many of those non-Catholic objections. Some of the most notable Catholic converts in the Church today were brought to Catholicism through this great work. To learn who these individuals are, I would suggest reading my Book Reviews on here. It’s the first book on that page.

As I was sitting around my house yesterday, because I went to our monthly Ordinary Form in Latin last night, I had some ideas for today’s “Mondays with Mary” but nothing that was solidified. Two weeks ago, I gave a talk on 6 Reasons why Mary should not be forgotten in a time of crisis, a talk based on my grad school notes and an interview given by Cardinal Ratzinger in 1984. In that talk, I speak briefly about this book.

Madonna of the Chair – Raphael

Realizing I have never shared with you the words of Karl Adam about Mary from The Spirit of Catholicism, I thought I would give you some of those thoughts today –

“But however wondrously glorious all these holy figures are [the saints], each in his own way, yet all are outshone by one, by the Queen of all angels and saints, Mary, the Mother of God. Like every creature in heaven and on earth, she too was called into existence out of nothingness. An infinite distance separates her from the Infinite, from Father, Son and Holy Ghost. And she has not grace, no virtue, no privilege, which she does not owe to the divine Mediator. Both in her natural and supernatural being, she is wholly the gift of God, ‘full of grace’.”

“The mystery of Mary’s divine Motherhood does not merely comprise the bare fact that the Word took flesh and blood, our human nature, in her womb. The Catholic is not content merely to repeat with gladness the words of the inspired woman in the Gospel: ‘Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck.’ He listens with a far deeper attention to Our Lord’s answer: ‘Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it’.”

“Mary’s importance in the work of salvation does not lie chiefly in the purely bodily sphere, but in the sphere of morality and religion. It consists in this that Mary, so far as lay in her, gave the best of herself, even her whole being, to service of God, and that, however infinitely small all human doing and suffering are in comparison with the Divine Perfection, she surrendered this infinitely small without limitation or stint to the visitation of Divine Grace, and so prepared herself to be the sublime instrument of the divine redemption.”

“Her whole subsequent life was lowliness and simplicity on the one hand, and on the strong and joyful faith. Bethlehem and Golgotha are the two termini of a way of sharpest renunciation, of heroic resignation, of complete ‘self-emptying’, such a way as our Lord himself traveled (Phil. 2:7). The sword foretold by Simeon (Lk. 2:25) pierced ever more sharply into her soul as the process of her self-abnegation advanced.”

“All the sublimity of Mary’s moral personality, all the depth of her virginal devotion, and all the strength of her faith culminate in the word which she spoke to the angel: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.’ These were no common, everyday words; no words such as fall from men in the changing circumstance and casual course of life. They were words out of the depths and recesses of a soul that was pure and noble beyond all earthly measure, words that were her being, her expression, her achievement. By them of a truth she consecrated her body to a ‘reasonable service’ (cf. Rom. 12:1), and that is the source of all blessedness.”

“She is mother not of the Redeemer alone, but also of the redeemed; and so she is the mother of the faithful. The Catholic acknowledges in heaven not only a Father, but also a mother…When the Catholic speaks of his Heavenly Mother, his heart is full with all the strength of feeling that is contained in that word. Mary is as it were a gracious revelation of certain ineffable and ultimate traits in the nature of God, which are too fine and too delicate to be grasped otherwise than as reflected in the mirror of a mother. Ave Maria!”

I don’t know what you are thinking, but just from typing these words, my only word is – Wow! Allow these words to penetrate your heart and mind this week. Reading them more than once is a definite and I would imagine each time you will get something new from each one.

Mary, Mother of the Redeemed…Pray for Us.

How I Learned to Dress Appropriately for Mass

This article first appeared in this week’s edition of Vidi Dominum, the parish bulletin of St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church. Re-published here with permission.

If you Google Search – “how to dress for Mass”, you will find ten different articles explaining why it’s important to dress appropriately, and a lot of different opinions in the comments. The reasons given are, for the most part, very similar. With the arrival of warmer temperatures here in Arizona and other places around the country, we tend to dress more casually. Many of us dress casually when we come to Mass as well. Should we?

Before I really dive deeper into this topic, let me say one thing – I am not judging you in any way. As one who works for the parish, it is my job, in union with our Pastor, Fr. Will, to help lead you closer to Christ. It’s not about judgment, but helping you to grow in your faith. My hope is that many of you will read this article, understand it, and implement it.

How did I learn to dress for Mass appropriately?

It goes back to the very first time I attended Holy Mass at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Steubenville, Ohio nearly nine years ago. I’ll never forget the feeling of being totally underdressed when I walked into church. Even though I was wearing a $200 pair of Joe’s Jeans, an expensive Banana Republic polo shirt, and a pair of Johnston and Murphy shoes, nearly everyone else was dressed in their “Sunday best.” This was how I was dressing for Mass for years before that day. At least four of my graduate school professors, including Scott Hahn, were dressed in full suits with ties and their families were dressed to the same degree. Even as I write these words to you now, the feeling of that moment still resides with me. My first thought I was, “I need to go home and change into better clothes.” In the end, I stayed for Mass but sat in a back corner hoping that none of my professors witnessed my attire. Some might think this is extreme, but I learned long ago from my Dad that it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, and I was most certainly underdressed for Holy Mass.

From that moment on, I learned how to wear appropriate clothing to Mass every Sunday. Did I dress in a suit very Sunday? No, but I wore dress pants, dress shoes, a polo or button down shirt (most often button down with a sweater) and, on occasion, a tie. In recent years, I have begun to wear a tie nearly every week. I am grateful that this lesson was taught to me many years ago. Dressing appropriately for Mass completely changed my disposition at Mass. My outer disposition and clothing now reflect my inner disposition.

Although I am writing this article to all parishioners, I particularly hope that my fellow Catholic men who read this article will take my words to heart. If you wear dress pants/khaki’s and a polo shirt/button down to work every day, but come to Mass dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops – there is a disconnect. Why dress appropriately for work, but dress casually for Mass? Would you wear your work clothes to go to the pool, the beach or the lake? This seems like a common sense question, but if you were to visit the President of the United States or Pope Francis, would you wear shorts and t-shirt? In Rome, you aren’t even permitted to enter a church building if you are not dressed appropriately.

Men – we can do better than this! It may not be a perfect expression, but the phrase “the clothes make the man” does express that the clothes we wear often affects the way we are regarded.

Practical Guidelines Appropriate Dress for Mass

So we might be asking ourselves, “what is appropriate dress for Sunday Mass?” In order to assist you in this question, below are a few norms for your consideration:

Men…

1. Wear formal (dress) shoes to Church. Flip-flops, TOMS (I love mine, but not for Mass), beach sandals, or cross training/running shoes are not formal shoes.

2. Wear dress pants or khakis (not jeans).

3. Don’t wear shorts.

4. Wear a button down shirt or a polo shirt, but make sure the shirt has a collar. Tuck the shirt into the pants. T-shirts with no collars, sleeveless shirts, and sports jerseys are too informal.

5. [For the more daring types] – wear a tie, a suit, or a sport coat with your attire. Some may think this is too stuffy, but not long ago, men wore such clothes every day, every Sunday to Mass, and yes, even to sporting events. Go take a look at a baseball game from the 1930’s and 1940’s – the men are wearing suits!

Women… (these suggestions came from fellow female parishioners)

1. Wear decent shoes to Church. Flip-flops and tennis shoes should be avoided.

2. Remember that for a skirt or dress, three fingers above the knee, or longer, is appropriate. Skirts and dresses should not be “see through” or have long slits in them. Shorts, especially “short shorts” should not be worn.

3. Don’t wear jeans (just like men). Slacks are a good option, but they should not be too tight. Your goal shouldn’t be to attract attention to the shape of your body when dressing for Mass.

4. Wear a nice blouse (if not wearing a dress). Tops should not be too tight for the same reason that pants shouldn’t be. Tank tops, spaghetti straps, and midriffs are not appropriate for Mass. It’s also important to make sure that undergarments remain undergarments. If any part of your bra can be seen by others, rethink your choice in top.

5. Cleavage should never be visible. You might think a shirt covers your cleavage, but take this quick test before you leave for Mass: Bow in front of the mirror. Whatever you see is what the Priest, Deacon, or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion will see when your bow before receiving the Eucharist.

Common Objections

With all of this in mind, let’s examine four common objections to dressing up for Mass –

1. “God doesn’t care what I wear to Mass”: This is often heard along with – “Come as you are! God doesn’t care what clothes you wear! He just wants you!” This objection is conjecture. God does care what you wear – don’t use this excuse because laziness has set in. No Bride on her wedding day is going to say to her Groom – “Come as you are to our wedding! I really don’t care what you wear.” Jesus explicitly demands respectful attire in Matthew 22:1-14 (The Parable of the Wedding Feast).

2. “It’s my personal prerogative – I don’t feel like dressing up”: Here we have the objection that, because I dress up all week for work, on Sunday it’s time to relax. Yes, Sunday is the Holy Sabbath – a day of rest. However, not dressing for Mass appropriately falls into the sin of sloth. Sloth lacks discipline and the willingness to suffer. If Our Lord suffered in agony on the cross for all of us, we can dress appropriately for a couple of hours on a Sunday to glorify His name, and yes, even when it’s 110 degrees.

3. “I never dress up”: Some people that make this argument are non-conformists, or have a tendency to rebel against authority, but this comment also comes from people who aren’t ever required to dress up for work. Some employers have become lax on their dress codes for their employees. Regardless, this argument doesn’t really hold up since those same people who say they never dress up, actually dress up for a lot of things. We wear sport jerseys to games, dresses or tuxedos for Prom and weddings, uniforms for teams, or specialty (sometimes expensive) clothes for hunting, fishing, hiking or even working out at the gym. We actually “dress for the occasion” pretty often. Shouldn’t that concept apply to Holy Mass as well?

4. “I don’t have money for dress clothes”: Dressing nice for Mass does not need to cost a lot. Those who have limited financial resources can find clothes that are decent for Mass at discount or thrift stores. However, if you are truly unable to purchase new clothes and don’t currently have anything appropriate for Mass, don’t be ashamed to call the office and ask for help!

How we Dress for Mass Really Matters

There are two main reasons why how we dress matters. First, how we dress conveys respect and honor. When we dress appropriately for Mass, we are saying to God, “You are worth the effort; you deserve my best.” It also communicates to your fellow parishioners that you take Mass seriously. It’s not just another casual event during the week.

Second, when we dress in a respectful manner it changes our interior disposition. Personally, when I have a suit on, or even just a tie, my words, thoughts, posture, and my general attitude is different. My father used to say to me – “a gentleman truly knows how to dress for every occasion.” Some will even argue that dressing up for Mass can be seen as spiritual discipline.

If you want to assist in bringing the changes needed for dressing appropriately, first make the commitment to dress more reverently at Mass yourself. Call up a friend from the parish and challenge each other to dress better for Mass. Next Sunday, make the effort to dress more appropriately. Once you are doing your best to express the seriousness of the sacrifice of the Mass in your outward appearance, then you can help your children to do the same.

Postscript: All comments are read by me and only approved with my discretion. Comments made should be done in regards to the article. Any comments attacking me, each other, or any entity associated with this post will not be approved. As long as these guidelines are followed, the comment box will remain open. If they are not followed, the comment section will be closed. Thank you.

Sources:
Christoff, Matthew James. “Dressing like a Man for Mass.” The Catholic Gentleman. N.p., 03 Dec. 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.
Pope, Monsignor Charles. “Adore the Lord in Holy Attire – On Proper Dress for Mass.”Community in Mission. Archdiocese of Washington Blog, 10 June 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.
Vogt, Brandon. “[Video] How My Family Dresses for Mass.” Brandon Vogt. N.p., 08 July 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

“Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady Queen of May

Since today is the 1st of May, I wanted to briefly explain to you why May is the month of Mary. During the month of May, we celebrate the Queen Jewel of all human creatures, the most beautiful and purest flower of all – the Blessed Virgin Mary.

On April 30, 1965, Blessed Paul VI promulgated a document titled, Menso Maio (the Month of May). The encyclical on the “Occasion of the First May” is written about the importance of the month of May and how Mary through her intercession and throne brings mercy to all of God’s people in a magnitude of great abundance (remember: the mercy comes from God as she intercedes for us). I would suggest reading 1 Kings 2:19-21 to see where the Tradition of Mary as Queen began. I have also written on this topic many times in the past. You can read those articles here.

As the Queen of May, Mary is also celebrated in her most magnificent role – Queen of the Universe. With Jesus, she rules from her Heavenly throne always seeking to bring all of humanity closer to her Son. Although many reject Christ, she still longs for them to be close to Him. As a good mother watches over her children, so too, does Mary as Our Queen Mother watch over us.

Queen of Heaven – Diego Velázquez

Even though Catholic devotion and admiration (not worship and adoration – that’s meant for God and God alone) is rooted in her love, mercy, and tenderness for us, it is truly Mary’s holiness and purity that unites us to her and assists us in having a deeper devotion to Jesus through Her. She seeks us the Immaculate Conception and the Perpetual Virgin to protect us from all sin and Satan, for she did not know either. She is the fairest of all of God’s creatures and seeks for us to know that sacrificial love that unfolds in her.

As we celebrate this month dedicated to her, let us appreciate the Immaculate Conception, who is our Mother. She who is “full of grace,” can intercede and aid us in our own impurities, which in turn will help us grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our Lady Queen of May…Pray for Us

The High Holy Days of Catholicism

Traditionally, in the Jewish faith, the high holy days are known as Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). As one website put it, these are the heavy hitters of the Jewish year. Likewise, in the Catholic faith, the Holy Days of Obligation, along with every Sunday, because Sunday is enough, are the high holy days for Catholics. Although they may not be listed anywhere specifically, I would argue that the days in which we are about to enter can also be, and should be, considered high holy days as well.

Beginning tonight and concluding late Saturday night, the Catholic world starts what is known as The Sacred Triduum – Holy Thursday (Mass of the Lord’s Supper), Good Friday (Celebration of the Lord’s Passion/Stations of the Cross) and Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil). The culmination of these three days brings us to the Sunday of all Sundays – Easter Sunday, the day where Our Lord Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead.

If Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the heavy hitters of the Jewish faith, then we must say the Triduum and Easter Sunday are heavy hitters in the Catholic faith.

As I stated previously, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the day Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood while he celebrated the Passover Meal with the Apostles and established the new Passover (see Luke 22:14-23) begins the Sacred Triduum. The Institution of the Holy Eucharist is the major element we commemorate on this great day. From this day forward, we have Jesus present in the Church – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

During this Holy Mass, we also reenact the washing of the Apostles feet.  This action by Jesus in John 13 is an act of humility and points to the humiliation that he would receive on the cross. He is displaying heroism as the servant-king for the Apostles.  The washing of the Apostles feet mirrors the washing of Aaron and his son’s feet by Moses in the Book of Exodus, as they become the first of the Levitical Priests. If this is the case, foot-washing can been seen as a sign of priestly ordination. The apostles receive a “part” in Jesus where the Levitical priests received a “portion” of God alone.

On Good Friday, we commemorate the day our Lord willingly gave himself in the perfect sacrifice for our redemption. As the lambs were slaughtered in the Temple; so Jesus is slaughtered on the cross. Jesus becomes the New Lamb of God – he is both sacrifice and victim. As it has been since the most ancient days of the church, the Holy Mass is not celebrated on Good Friday. The only sacraments that are permitted on this day are Penance (Reconciliation) and Anointing of the Sick.  During the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord, we hear the readings (Cycle A, B, C) from Isaiah 52:13—53:12, Psalm 31, Hebrews 4:14-16 5:7-9 and the Gospel of St. John 18:1—19:42.

After a short homily or time in prayer, the Liturgy of the Word ends with “The Solemn Intercessions” which are For the Holy Church, For the Pope, For all orders and degrees of the faithful, For the unity of Christians, For the Jewish People, For those who do not believe in Christ, For those who do not believe in God, For those in public office, and For those in tribulation.

After the Solemn Intercessions, there is Adoration of the Holy Cross. The priest(s), deacons and/or altar servers, process with a cross which has been covered with a purple veil (purple is the color associated with penance and was also worn royalty and more than likely the color of the garment the Roman soldiers put on Jesus). As the cross is brought forth and held before the altar, the priest (assisted by the Deacon and/or altar servers) uncovers a little of the cross each time by chanting the words – “Behold the wood of the Cross” (Ecce lignum Crucis) and all chant is response – “Come let us adore” (Venite, adoremus).

Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Ad Orientem) at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church 2016.

After the Adoration of the cross, an altar cloth is spread on the altar as is a corporal and the Missal put in place. The Blessed Sacrament is brought from its place of keeping (from the conclusion of Holy Thursday Mass to this point, the Holy Eucharist is not kept in the Tabernacle).  The Our Father is either chanted (or recited). After this, Holy Communion is distributed to the faithful during the celebration of the Lord’s Passion. Since the Holy Mass is not celebrated on this day, more hosts should be consecrated during the Mass on Holy Thursday. Once Communion has ended and the prayer over the people is recited – all depart in silence.

We now come to my favorite part of the Sacred Triduum – The Easter Vigil. The Easter Vigil is the Mass where the elect (formerly catechumens) and those seeking full communion (candidates) are welcomed into the Catholic Church. For 2 ½ years, I was privileged to work with the adults of our parish in preparing them to receive the Sacraments on this night. It is a blessing that is incredibly difficult to put into words, especially watching the adults who are baptized. Although I am no longer involved in the daily duties of preparation, I still teach these individuals during the year.

As the Sacred Liturgy begins, there is the Blessing of the Fire and the Preparation of the Candle. After the candle is prepared, the Easter Proclamation is recited. During the Liturgy of the Word, we hear the seven Old Testament readings of Salvation History accompanied with seven Psalms in response, an epistle from Paul, and then the Gospel Reading. For those of us that love the Sacred Scriptures and Salvation History, this Mass is by far the best set of readings for the entire year. After the readings, we chant the Gloria (the lights come on brighter) and we can finally say Alleluia again.

After the homily is given, the Baptismal Liturgy begins which includes the Litany of the Saints, the blessing of the baptismal water, the Rite of Baptism (the Elect come forward with their Godparents), and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises by the faithful. If you never seen an adult received the Sacrament of Baptism, I encourage you to attend the Easter Vigil. It’s a moving experience!

Once everyone is baptized, the newly baptized along with those seeking full communion (they make a Profession of Faith) receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Once all have received Confirmation, the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins and Mass continues and concludes as usual. The newly baptized Catholics and the newly professed Catholics for the first time receive Jesus Christ – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. As the Easter Vigil comes to a close, the Church finds herself in the Easter Season looking 40 days ahead to the Ascension of Our Lord and 50 days to another great feast (and high holy day), Pentecost Sunday.

On Easter Sunday, we celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection over sin and death. We cannot have the Resurrection without the Crucifixion. The Paschal Mystery – Passion, Death, and Resurrection is now complete. Jesus Christ has Risen from the Dead!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1169 states, “Therefore Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the “Feast of feasts,” the “Solemnity of solemnities,” just as the Eucharist is the “Sacrament of sacraments” (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls Easter “the Great Sunday” and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week “the Great Week.” The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him.”

I would really encourage you to attend these high holy days if you haven’t done so before. If you have been in the past, but haven’t been in some time, I would hope you attend. To really see Easter Sunday at its fullest, you should participate in the days proceeding. There really is nothing else like it in the liturgical year. We have truly entered the High Holy Days of Catholicism.