Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., will celebrate Mass for the Easter Vigil, April 11, at 7 p.m. in St. Rose Church, Belmar. The Mass, which will be livestreamed without a congregation, can be viewed at the Diocese’s YouTube channel and all other diocesan media outlets, both as a livestream and after the Mass.
In his homily, and in a brief multimedia message released April 11, Bishop O’Connell drew a connection with the suffering and emptiness of the current coronavirus pandemic to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He states in the homily:
Matthew’s Gospel tells us tonight that when the women came to the tomb in which Jesus was buried, the stone was rolled back; his body was not there; the tomb was empty, like Churches throughout our Diocese tonight. Perhaps that is the connection of faith we can make to tonight’s Gospel, the connection we can feel in the emptiness that surrounds us in our parishes for the first time in our memories. We need to be home, not with our parish communities of faith as on every other Easter night, separated as we are because of the ravages of a worldwide pandemic. The emptiness of our current experience brings the message home.
Easter is that moment in the history of the world when the world was changed forever: changed by an obscure Jesus of Nazareth who lived and died but who rose to new life, Jesus Christ the Messiah of God! His risen, new life is ours tonight and, because of this Easter night, is ours forever. What we are going through now can never take that away.
Bishop O’Connell also offered words of hope in a special Easter message to his flock, as they prepare to wait in silence for the new life in Christ commemorated at the Easter Vigil. Delivered via podcast and video, he referenced the impact that the mandated coronavirus restrictions have had on Catholics and their inability to gather in their parish communities for Mass and other liturgical celebrations, especially during Holy Week. The Bishop acknowledged that during this year’s celebration of Easter, “so many of us are feeling a host of emotions different than in years past.
“Easter was always a joyful day for Christian families everywhere, deeply spiritual and abundantly social,” he said. “It remains deeply spiritual, rooted in the greatest and most triumphant feast of our faith, the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus from the dead. Nothing can take that reality away!”
Bishop O’Connell said the unique and unprecedented circumstances may seem to mute the joy of the celebration of Easter this year. But he encouraged the faithful to remember that “we are still and always an Easter people!