Fr. Gerard’s Weekly Column: 4/7/24

“There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, placing the proceeds at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.”

From its very beginning, the community of the Church recognized its responsibility to care for those who are in need. The early Christian community was not simply a worshipping community. Its gathering to worship heightened its understanding of the needs of the community. Some 2,000 years later, our mission remains the same. We minister God’s mercy, which was revealed in its greatness in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This year, Holy Week took a unique focus, calling together this Christian community in an unexpected way. The death of a police officer and the celebration of his funeral amidst the Sacred Triduum were an astonishing coming together of our faith and an overwhelming tragedy. Detective Diller’s wake and funeral occurred on the most sacred days of the church year, and served as an accompaniment to what we were marking in the commemoration of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Beyond our parish community and those who share faith with us, the larger community of the Massapequas and beyond lived out the words of St. Paul, “Death has no power over us.” The response of the community by their presence, their generosity and deep concern for the Diller family was a powerful witness to goodness and its triumph over evil.

Throughout the season of Lent, we were given many opportunities to be reconciled with the Lord and to deepen our faith. Holy Week and the events surrounding the tragic death of a member of this community, were the fruits of our Lenten sacrifice and prayers. In his laying down of his life, Detective Diller personified the generosity of Christ, and the response of this community was truly that of Easter people. As the Easter Season begins, we not only live the Eucharist, but we bring the Good News of the resurrected Christ into the world. What occurred here continued in the ordinary and the extraordinary ways of everyday Christian life. As Saint Peter proclaimed in the Acts of the Apostles, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”

DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY – As we conclude the octave of Easter Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy, so that we may remember that the mercy that begins with the Sacrifice of the Cross continues beyond these sacred days. Divine Mercy Sunday takes place each year on the Second Sunday of Easter. It is dedicated to the devotion of the Divine Mercy promoted by St. Faustina and is based upon an entry in St. Faustina’s diary stating that anyone who participates in the Mass and receives the sacraments of confession and Eucharist on this day is assured by Jesus of full remission of sins.

The devotion was celebrated unofficially in many places for some years. On April 30, 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II canonized St. Faustina and officially designated the Sunday after Easter as, Second Sunday of Easter, the Sunday of the Divine Mercy. Pope Saint John Paul II’s closeness to St. Faustina was particularly evident when he died on the vigil of the Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy was also given to St. Faustina and, in addition, Jesus gave St. Faustina nine intentions for which to pray the Chaplet beginning on Good Friday and ending on Easter Saturday. I invite you to join us this Sunday at 3:00 pm for our annual Divine Mercy Sunday Holy Hour as we mark the end of the days of novena.

EASTER THANK YOU’S – In last week’s column, I briefly expressed my thanks to those who shared in the ministries of Holy Week. Those words were written well before Holy Week and at that time, I could not imagine the extra efforts that were going to be needed. I want to thank our parish staff and the various volunteers who worked so hard behind the scenes to allow us to celebrate Holy Week and the funeral of Detective Diller so well. I also wish to acknowledge the faithful participation of all of you. The beauty of these liturgies was most evident in the faith professed by those whose prayer and worship unified us. I also thank you for your financial generosity which enables us to continue the good work of our parish.

CHURCH DOORS – Last week we published a rendering of new doors for the church. There is also a larger poster at the front of the church. As I have mentioned before, new doors are necessary. The current ones have lasted for seven decades, but now the time has come for their replacement. They are heavy, have internal decay and broken parts, and do not close properly. Although we have funds reserved for capital improvements, this job will significantly impact those reserves. We have already received significant donations, and I am grateful for that. If you can help financially support this project, please speak with me or Sharon in our business office.