“On this Easter Day, we pray that the saving power of the Crucified and Risen Lord, Jesus Christ may become evident in each of our lives.” – Bishop Robert Deeley
Wishing everyone a Happy Easter, Bishop Robert Deeley celebrated the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord on Easter Sunday, a celebration of Christ’s victory over death more than 2,000 years ago, today, and forever.
“When we profess our faith in the resurrection of Jesus, we are not trying to explain what is really beyond our comprehension. Jesus has been transformed to a new kind of existence by the Father beyond our understanding, and we can only express it in symbols such as that of the empty tomb and the encounters the disciples had with him,” the bishop said. “The announcement that ‘Jesus is Risen’ is an invitation to share in a new way of seeing God and the world. We are invited to live in a new way, to live in Christ – and living in this way, we discover that the Father will raise us to new life as well.”
Hundreds filled the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland for the Mass. Every pew was filled, as were additional rows of seats set up in the narthex in the back of the church, along the back wall, and extending to the front wall of the church.
The Mass began as the Easter Vigil had ended the night before, with the congregation joining in singing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.” Throughout the Mass, “Alleluias,” absent throughout Lent until the Easter Vigil Mass, were joyously proclaimed. The Gospel reading shared was that of the discovery of the empty tomb by Mary of Magadala and of the first sharing of the Good News that Jesus was no longer among the dead.
“The message of Jesus’ resurrection is passed on by believers. Each of the Gospels tells the story in its own way. No one really witnessed the resurrection. They encountered the Risen Lord. The appearances differ. The opportunities to encounter the Risen Jesus differ. What is a constant, however, is that the appearances of the Risen Lord happen to those who were his followers, to those who had already placed trust in him,” Bishop Deeley said. “Perhaps what we need to do is simply be attentive to the way in which the early Christians passed on their faith and witnessed to what they had experienced. The Gospels, each in their own way, attest to the faith of the disciples. But their faith was grounded in an encounter. They saw Jesus; they touched him; he spoke with them. They all testify to this fact, He lives! He is risen!”
During the Mass, parishioners renewed their baptismal promises, declaring again that they renounce Satan and his works, while proclaiming their belief in God, the Father Almighty; in his Son, Jesus; in the Holy Spirit; in the holy catholic Church; and in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection and promise of eternal life. The bishop and priests then sprinkled the congregation with holy water.
The bishop said when we were baptized, we became part of a new people.
“To be part of this new people is to be joined with his community, the Church,” he said. “Each of us is a part of a people, a people who commit to a particular way of living.”
The bishop said the celebration of Easter must not be confined to one day but, rather, shape the way we live.
“We will continue to grow as a community of faithful when we allow the mystery of Jesus, the one who has risen from the dead, to show us how to live. We will treat others as we wish to be treated. We will forgive one another our offenses, even as we ask for forgiveness from the Father. We will act with the compassion of Christ in the encounters we have with the people we meet,” he said.
As with all the Holy Week celebrations at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the Easter Sunday Mass reflected the many cultures of the parishioners who attend the cathedral and the other Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes. Some hymns were sung in Vietnamese, and children carrying flowers colorfully participated in the presentation of gifts, a Vietnamese custom to show respect. At previous celebrations during the Easter Triduum, hymns or readings were shared in French, Italian, Polish, and Spanish.
The celebration of Easter continues for 50 days until the Feast of Pentecost, which commemorates the Holy Spirit’s descent upon the apostles. The seven weeks of the season of Easter are considered to be one continuous feast.