In Easter, we Catholics believe in new life and light emerging from darkness.
With his resurrection, Christ conquered death, not only for himself but also for all those who believe in him and his resurrection.
Just as the first signs of spring bring the comfort that Easter is at hand, so too does the growing number of people who have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus bring us comfort that the pandemic might be beginning to ease. With this burgeoning confidence, the faithful of the Diocese of Nashville are beginning to return to their churches to gather in person once again as a community of faith.
Bishop J. Mark Spalding, in time for Palm Sunday, ended the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, while also noting that Church law envisions situations where the obligation does not apply because of a grave concern. “Serious ongoing risks and concerns you might have about the coronavirus can certainly constitute that grave cause,” he added at the time.
The bishop’s decision gave many the confidence that it was safe to return in person to the public celebrations of Mass. The liturgies and events of Holy Week and Easter saw levels of attendance unseen in more than a year. Pastors across the diocese are happily anticipating that trend to continue, even as they maintain many of the protocols that have been in place to protect people from the spread of the coronavirus. They are also preparing for a post-pandemic world, where we can use the lessons learned in the last year to strengthen and broaden our communities.
Our churches are welcoming people back in the spirit of the Easter season, summed up in the Book of Revelation: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. … The one who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”
This Easter season we have the opportunity to allow Christ to make our life new, our faith new. We have felt the disorientation of being separated from our communities of faith and from the Eucharist, the ultimate expression of our communion with each other and God. Now we can feel the joy of reconnecting with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As we reconnect, we should heartily embrace the mission statement of the diocese: Living and Proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, Welcoming All! We should embrace that mission in our attention at Mass, in recommitting to forming ourselves in the faith, to bringing the faith to bear in every part of our lives, in outreach to our brothers and sisters, especially those on the margins in pain or despair.
We are an Easter church, where all are given new life in Jesus Christ through his sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. We must always be mindful of that gift and of our obligation to extend that gift to all we meet. In doing so, we will be the hands of God who makes all things new.