April 03, 2015

Preaching Easter

Homilies are woven around grace, hope and love


Fr. Bryant Hausfeld, OFM

(Bryant will be preaching at Santa Maria de la Paz Parish in
Santa Fe, N.M.)

I really like preaching Easter better than Christmas. My theme most of the time at Easter is God’s love for us, that he would send his own son, that he had to be rejected and treated as cruelly as people get toward one another – that he had to suffer death. But what that does positively is show God’s love for us. If someone loves us we should be happy and Bryant Hausfeld, OFMjoyful and kick up our heels and respond to that love in some way. It’s impossible to respond to that love completely because it’s so awesome and absolute.

But beyond the grief of Good Friday, we should be happy and joyful and laughing. When someone loves us it should take away all the fears and all the grief and confusion of life. That’s basically what I’m usually preaching about, happiness and joy. I think that throughout the year priests should speak more about the happiness of being loved by God and the Church, rather than, “You’d better get to Confession and work on all the negative things.”


Fr. David Kobak, OFM

(Dave will be preaching at Holy Family Parish in Oldenburg, Ind.)

David Kobak, OFMI think it’ll be the 12th Easter I’m preaching. It’s new every year, just as exciting as the first year I was ordained. For me preaching never gets old; I’ve always really loved preaching and preparing and studying for it.

I’ll be focusing most of my homily on the RCIA group, just sinking back and swimming in the beautiful Easter liturgy. The resurrection event of Jesus, that’s what I’ll be preaching – the resurrection event and the impact it has on our life if we allow it to have an impact. A good theme is the dark, impossible, dire situations in life, but the triumph of grace as Easter approaches. Everybody [is] in darkness in the trying times of life, but behind it all is the triumph of God’s grace and the triumph of resurrection.

[At the Vigil] The church is dark, you’re listening to the Word in in candlelight, then the lights come on and it’s a stupendous thing. If you’re sitting there with your heart broken in a million pieces, you’re enfolded in God’s grace.


Fr. Mike Lenz, OFM

(Mike will celebrate a Byzantine Divine Liturgy at St. Stephen’s Parish in Allen Park, Mich.)Mike Lenz, OFM

Christ Pantocrator from Holy Dormition chapel, Sybertsville, Pa.For the homily I will use the one I do every year, with some changes, going over the meaning of the Sacred Triduum briefly since many of the people will not have been to church for those services.ᅠI culminate the homily with the meaning of Christ’s Resurrection, alsoᅠbringing in the fact that we have new members in the Church from the Easter Vigil.ᅠ For the Easter season which is called Pascha, not Easter, the people greet each other with: ᅠ“Christ is Risen!” ᅠAnswered with: ᅠ“Indeed!ᅠ He is Risen!” ᅠSome will say it in Old Slavonic: ᅠ“Christos Voskrese!” ᅠ“Voistinu Voskrese!”

On Holy Saturday night after the Liturgy, the Pascha/Easter baskets are blessed.ᅠ Each basket usually has a bottle of wine, a blessed candle, ham, cheese, sausage, butter, and Pascha bread (sweet bread). ᅠThe baskets are covered with beautiful, bright cloths, usually embroidered.ᅠ The priest in full vestments incenses each basket and blesses it with holy water.

May you have a very blessed Pascha.


Fr. Blane Grein, OFM

(Blane will be preaching at St. Julie in Orange Hill, Jamaica, and St. Mary at Revival, Jamaica.)

Blane Grein, OFM[Back home] One image you can bring in for Easter is the idea that things lose their leaves in the winter, and when the snow clears you see crocuses and daffodils coming to life. That image of new life is very clear and everybody knows what you’re talking about. Here you don’t have that image because it’s always spring.

My theme this year is gonna be the butterfly because it’s something they know. I’m sure they know that an ugly caterpillar goes in and that a butterfly comes out of the cocoon. In their beginning stage, butterflies are not very well liked. Caterpillars are not a pleasing sight to see; they eat your plants, you curse them under your breath. Then caterpillars make their cocoon; in that time of darkness they seem to be out of sight, as was Jesus.

They condemned Jesus and brought him to trial, spitting on him as he walked to Calvary. They did not believe it when he claimed he was God. [When he was crucified] Jesus was out of sight for three days.

Caterpillars come forth from their time of darkness with new life, beautiful life. It’s the transformative thing, being transformed from something you don’t want to have around to something you welcome. The transformation happened for us in the three days Jesus was in the tomb. Jesus came forth in a complete reversal from sin and death, overcoming sin for a beautiful life.

Fr. Robert Seay, OFM

(Robert will be preaching at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Lafayette, La.)

Robert Seay in the Holy Land with pilgrims
from India.
My style of preaching is very unconventional. I do have some notes; I come across themes and look at other things, maybe find some inspiration from the Internet. I take it from what’s happening in the world. When I preach I give a lot to the Spirit speaking through me; I pretty much kind of wait until the day itself unfolds. I really can’t speak from a written sermon.

For Palm Sunday I talked about the experience of going to the Holy Land [this year]. I wove in actually being there and walking those steps with Jesus; it made Palm Sunday more exciting for me.

For Easter I know it’s going to be a theme of hope. I think the world right now has to be revived from the evil and hatred that’s going on in the world. I’ll be preaching about always having hope, that resurrection is the hope [that] there’s a reward after all that we suffer.


Fr. Reynolds Garland, OFM

(Reynolds will be preaching at Holy Cross Parish in Jackson, Ky., and at Church of the Good Shepherd in Campton, Ky.)

Reynolds Garland, OFMI always do my homily way ahead for some reason, at least a week. I know exactly what I’m going to say. I start out with the Easter Bunny – I have no idea how the Easter Bunny got in charge of Easter – and the Easter egg hunts I had in the past in Carville and Houma, La. They grew and grew; we would put 2,000 eggs all around the grounds after Mass. This ends up being a really nice thing for children, but the actual feast can be covered up a little bit by things like that. Easter is the center of our faith, what it’s all about.

Jesus died and he rose. I talk about how they had a hard time believing this at first because the body was not there. In time they grew in faith. We pray God to help us realize our faith, that He is with us every moment. I talk about resurrection. For people who have loved ones who died, that’s the hardest thing ever to go through, but at Easter we realize we will see them again. Easter is especially a feast of hope, hope that will help us get through our problems.

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St. Aloysius will host a Mass Mob in July.



  • In the 1960s, “An estimated 55% of Catholics attended church on any given week,” the Huffington Post reported Oct. 12, 2014. Today it’s between 23 and 24%, according to The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. Especially hard hit are older, inner-city churches that have seen a (no pun intended) mass exodus in the past 50 years. “People are upset that the churches are closing, but the simple reason is, people don’t go,” said Detroit resident Thom Mann, interviewed by NPR and quoted in the Huffington Post story. “When you have a church that seats 1,500 people, and there’s 100 people there or less, how are they going to keep them open?” In hopes of turning the tide, Thom helped organize the Detroit Mass Mob, borrowing an idea that was born in Buffalo in 2013 and has gained momentum across the country. Social media followers, guided by online posts, show up at a certain church on a certain date. Parishes get a boost in attendance – typically hundreds more – and in their collections. A recent Mass Mob drew 1,200 visitors to Old St. Mary’s in Detroit. This week it was announced that Mass Mob will be coming to St. Aloysius Parish on July 12. Read what it's like at: http://bustedhalo.com/features/inside-a-mass-mob
  • On Good Friday, the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C., will hold a Burial of Christ service at 7:30 p.m. It’s similar to the service mounted at the tomb of Christ in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. If you can’t make it to D.C., you can live stream the Monastery’s burial service at:  http://www.myfranciscan.org/live/.
  • “Since my first day here I have felt very welcomed,” Fr. Richard Goodin wrote in the March 22 Holy Family bulletin, announcing his assignment to Galveston, Texas. “The hospitality of everyone has charmed me deeply. I look forward to the years ahead. But beware, I’m full of energy and new ideas! Nevertheless, I do believe that you’ll teach me a thing or two while I do my best to serve you according to your needs.”

Moved by an image of Christ“Kavarsko bažnyčia 7” by Karmen media; licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

After the ESC meeting ended in Kaunas, Lithuania, I took a few hours to wander through the city with some of the other friars. In a religious goods store we all noticed some unusual carved wooden statues of Christ that reminded us of Rodin’s “The Thinker.” ᅠLater we saw a large marble version in one of the churches, St. Michael the Archangel. The image stayed with me, and when I got back to the guesthouse I did a Google search. ᅠI was not sure what to call it, but Jesus struck me as “pensive,” so I put in “Lithuanian Pensive Christ,” and actually found quite of bit of information; it is a common piece of folk art in that region. ᅠIt is sometimes called the Pensive Christ, the Worrying Christ, or Christ in Distress, and often carved in tree trunks. ᅠThe proper name is Rupentojelis, from the Lithuanian word rupestin, meaning “concern.”

The Lithuanian people apparently identify with this image, and it speaks to their history; though it predates the Soviet rule, it does speak to the burden they carried for many years. ᅠLike all art, the image speaks in many ways. ᅠIt shows the contemplative Christ whose heart and compassion goes out to all people. ᅠI asked one friar about it, and he said “it shows how he cares for our people.” Some see Christ before the crucifixion;ᅠsome see Christ after the resurrection and before the ascension. ᅠOne legend says Christ traveled the world with his crown of thorns, and when weary from the journey and the pain he saw, he would sit on stones or tree trunks and weep.
As I move toward Holy Week and Easter, this image is staying with me, and has returned to my prayer. ᅠᅠSt. Francis had great love for the Crucified, and often meditated on the Passion, so much so that the cross imprinted on his heart became expressed in his body.ᅠ He so wanted to experience the love that moved Jesus to take up his cross. I remember one author saying Francis used to “sit in the wounds of the Savior” as he prayed in the caves around Assisi. Perhaps during these days we can take Clare’s good advice to “gaze upon him.”

Fr. Henry Beck shared a beautiful image of the Annunciation on that feast on Facebook with an article that our “lectio divina” where we use the sacred words of Scripture for reflection can be richly complemented by “visio divina” where we use sacred images. ᅠThese are days to focus on the cross.ᅠ I somehow find it moving to pray with this image of Christ, wondering what is going on in his mind and heart. ᅠIt takes me in, each time in a different way, and is helping me enter into the season. ᅠI thank the Lithuanian people for this gift. ᅠHappy Easter to all!


— Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM Email To a Friend