A Note From Fr. LeRoy
On behalf of Fr. Timothy, Fr. Tom Skaja, Fr. Oswaldo, our ACC parish staffs, and myself, I would like to wish you all a very “Happy and Blessed Easter!” May the freedom and joy of Christ’s presence and his new and risen life be yours forever in God! Although we are currently still living under unusual circumstances with social distancing and Covid-19 and are somewhat limited in how we celebrate this great holiday as a People of God, my hope is that you and your families at home will truly celebrate this wonderful holiday with prayer, a shared meal, and renewed spirit with those whom you love. Although there is still a lot of talk of “social distancing” these days, it’s good to know that Jesus, our Savior, does not “social distance” himself from us! That is the Good News to share with everyone so let us never allow the residual effects of a pandemic take away our faith, hope and love in Christ.
If you were to travel to the Holy Land or take a pilgrimage there this time of year and celebrate Easter Sunday, you would hear Christians greet each other in a unique way. Beginning on Easter Sunday and throughout the Octave of Easter (the following 8 days up to Divine Mercy Sunday) you might hear friends and complete strangers greet each other with these words: “He is risen!” and the response from the other person would be: “He is truly risen!” or “He is risen indeed!” Why do they say that, and from where did this sort of greeting come?
In the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic religion, this is called the “Paschal greeting.” It is based on (Luke 24,34) when the two disciples from Emmaus returned to Jerusalem after seeing the risen Christ and were greeted with these words, “The Lord has risen! He has risen indeed and has appeared to Simon!” How exactly this saying became a more common place is not exactly known, although there are various theories. One theory is that Mary Magdalene who was the first to see the risen Lord addressed the Emperor Tiberius in Rome with the words, “Christ is risen!” despite the fact that this statement could have cost her, her life. It is a very old custom which probably really took off in the early Byzantine period of the Church. Another theory or reason this saying has endured so long is that it is a way to acknowledge the fact that the resurrection of Jesus was not simply based on wishful thinking or a product of some sort of group think or plot to keep Jesus alive just ‘in our minds and hearts’. Rather, our faith in the risen Lord is based on actual eye-witness accounts, their wonderful experience and personal encounter with the Risen Lord himself!
By repeating or saying these words, we not only give witness to the truth of the resurrection, but it also helps us to truly own this wonderful mystery of our faith, that Life has conquered death through Christ in us! In these next several days, you might want to try this greeting on others and see what is their response. You might get some strange looks, but it might also be a teaching moment for your family, your friends, your children and grandchildren this holiday season. As the old commercial goes, “Try it, you’ll like it!”
One final note: I want to thank all those who helped put our Holy Week Services together and created such wonderful celebrations for the members of our parishes. I also want to thank everyone from our “Together as One” ACC who contributed so generously to our Easter Collections. Our ACC churches and staff simply could not continue God’s work without your financial help. I conclude simply by saying “He is risen!” “He has truly risen!” “Happy Easter” everyone!
Fr. LeRoy Scheierl