Gaudete et Exsultate
This week, the Holy Father issued a beautiful new apostolic exhortation,, Gaudete et Exsultate ("Rejoice and be Glad"). It was actually signed on the Feast of St. Joseph, but it was published on Monday, April 9.
In it, the Holy Father speaks about the very important topic of holiness -- the Church exists to help people live a life of holiness. He tells us that we should not be afraid of holiness, and that to live in holiness is to be what our Creator made us to be. It makes us more human, more alive. He cites the teachings of Jesus particularly the Beatitudes and the beautiful Parable of the Last Judgment, in which Jesus gives us the Works of Mercy.
The Holy Father also talks about the saints as wonderful examples of holiness, but he also reminded us that we have saints next-door, people in our own lives -- relatives, friends, parishioners and others -- whose witness of fidelity, sacrifice and love are an encouragement and inspiration to all of us.
We are very grateful for the Holy Father's exhortation, and we hope that many people will take the opportunity to read it. One of the great things about Pope Francis' writings is that they are very accessible. They don't read like theological treatises, but instead are very practical and filled with common sense and wisdom.
Pope Francis' letter to the bishops of Chile
Also this week, the Holy Father, in a very powerful and moving letter to the bishops of Chile, addressed the very difficult situation of sexual abuse in their country. With the Holy Father's letter, and the visitation of Archbishop Charles Scicluna to Chile, the Holy Father has "pushed the reset button," as it were, on the crisis situation there and we pray that this is going to bring about healing and a restoration of trust in the Church in Chile. I know that the victims and survivors of sexual abuse there will be much consoled by the Holy Father's letter and his upcoming meeting with the bishops of Chile at the Vatican. We all must pray for the outcome of that meeting because so much is at stake.
More Easter Celebrations
While this weekend we marked Divine Mercy Sunday, it was also the time when the Eastern Churches celebrated Easter this year. So, that evening I had an opportunity to take part in two different Easter Vigils.
First, I went to the Greek Orthodox Cathedral to join in their celebration.
Metropolitan Methodios always very graciously invites me to read a passage from the Gospel and to address the congregation.
We are so grateful that the Metropolitan comes to our Chrism Mass each year. As he often says in his remarks at the Chrism Mass, it's a great joy to be able to celebrate Easter twice, once with us and once with his own community.
Well, I may have one up on him, because I returned from the Orthodox Vigil in time to greet the Ethiopian and Eritrean Ge'ez Rite Catholic community at the cathedral, who were celebrating their Easter Vigil that night, as well. So, it was my third Easter Vigil of the year.
St. John Paul II Shrine
On Sunday, I went to our new St. John Paul II Shrine of Divine Mercy in Salem to present them with a first-class relic of the pope. On the first feast day after Pope John Paul II was declared blessed, we had a special Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and, as part of that celebration, I wanted to have a relic of the pope present. I wrote to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz who sent me a relic of the blood of John Paul II. Now, we've given that same relic to the shrine, along with a chalice given to Cardinal Medeiros by Pope John Paul II during his visit in 1979, as well as a vestment of John Paul II given to me by Dr. Domenico Giani, the head of the Vatican Gendarmes, at the time of the pope's funeral.