The testimony of Easter

BY FR. MARK SOEHNER, OFM

 Last Saturday Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltram, 44, a French police officer, voluntarily took the place of a female hostage in a terror attack in a supermarket in Trebes, France.  He was hoping to motivate the ISIS-inspired gunman to end his standoff with the police who had surrounded the building.  It cost him his life.

In an interview with a French radio station, his brother Cedric said that “He gave his life for strangers.  He must have known that he didn’t really have a chance.  If that doesn’t make him a hero, I don’t know what would.”  I don’t know either.  According to a Catholic Herald article from the U.K., he experienced a genuine conversion in 2008, and was received into the Catholic Church in 2010.  He had made a pilgrimage to Sainte-Anne-d’Auray in 2015, praying to meet the right woman for marriage.  Shortly thereafter he became friends with Marielle, whom he married civilly and was in preparation for the sacrament of marriage this June.  The canon who was preparing them for this Sacrament, Fr. Jean-Baptiste, was able to give him the Sacrament of the Sick, although he was unconscious, and the apostolic blessing before he died.  He compared him to St. Maximilian Kolbe.

In Mark’s Gospel the women come to the tomb wondering, doubting, uncertain.  “Who will roll away the stone for us?”  They came draped in black, ready to do the rituals for the dead.  And they worry about that stone.  I could be worried as we witness the deaths, the loss of many friars this past year.  I could be worried as I look at our actuarials.  It’s easy to get convinced of the power of death.   But Easter stands as testimony:  We will see him in our own Galilees, our ordinary lives.  Death is not the end of the story.

 God sends an angel in white into all of our tragedies.  He says to us, do not be amazed!  You are looking for Arnaud Beltram on a supermarket floor.  You will not find him there.  Christ and those crucified have been raised up.  Christ and the crucified are alive in the selflessness of a mother who patiently teaches her children to read, in feisty young people defiant about gun laws, in the meek who strongly serve in soup kitchens, in compassionate others finding permanent housing for those with mental illness and no home.  Behold the spot where the crucified were laid.  But all you will find buried here are fear, hatred and arrogance.  The crucified have been raised up.  They are not in a tomb.  They are raised up with Christ.  And they are giving us a new spirit of courage.

The joy we experience this Easter may not be simply bunnies and newborn chicks.  But we are convinced that God can and will, if given a chance, “make a way out of no way.”  This Easter we behold the victim become victorious, and in this we have Easter joy.

The rituals we remember

(Loren’s Easter column appears in this weekend’s bulletin for St. Aloysius Parish in Detroit.)

BY FR. LOREN CONNELL, OFM

Sunday morning we would take our empty baskets and gather the eggs.Dear Sisters and Brothers,

If all goes according to plan, 12 friars will gather at St. John XXIII Friary on Sunday afternoon for prayer, fellowship and Easter dinner (fruit-stuffed pork). Looking forward to it, I smile over memories of childhood Easters. Saturday evening my brother and I would put out a dozen or so straw nests all around the yard. Sunday morning we would take our empty baskets, go outside, and gather all the eggs that the Easter Bunny had put in those nests. (And those eggs, especially the purple ones, always tasted better than plain old hard-boiled hens’ eggs!)

Inside, the Easter Bunny had worked other magic. The dining room table held even more candy We bargained for our favorite candies.than the two of us would collect on Halloween, from yukky Peeps and chocolate marshmallow eggs to delicious dark chocolate cream eggs and licorice jelly beans. There it was, half for him and half for me. By Sunday afternoon, it was time to begin bargaining, as I valiantly (and sometimes successfully) tried to persuade him to trade one of his coveted chocolate creams for one of my unwanted Peeps. Since he didn’t – and still doesn’t – like licorice, I had much better luck with the jelly beans.

Pleasant memories! I suspect that many of you have similar ones, and I suspect that parents of little ones will smile this Easter as they see their own children engage in family rituals which will be fondly remembered for years to come.

Easter blessings and peace,

Loren

  • Henry joined friends from Alexandria, Va., at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.“It was a whirlwind trip,” says Fr. Henry Beck, who met friends in Alexandria, Va., last Friday and joined them for several hours Saturday in the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. He had hoped to take part “since I heard it announced. I have been concerned about responsible gun legislation and common sense policies for several years now.” Henry says people of all ages were there, “and it was impressive to see whole families gathered for the march. Many brought their young children in strollers. I was very impressed by the overall positive spirit and the down-to-earth attitude by almost all in the large crowd gathered. I was especially touched by several veterans who had signs expressing their desire to see assault weapons banned in our civilian society.”  He says student speakers from Parkland, Fla., were “very articulate and filled with commitment to help change come about.”  After the march, Henry drove back to Easton, Pa., that evening so he could join the community for Palm Sunday at St. Francis Retreat House.
  • After 30-something books, you wonder what’s left for Fr. Murray Bodo to write about. The answer is, everything. In his newest book, A Far Country Near (Tau Publishing, $16.95), Murray once again shows that a sense of wonder in the world is not bound by age or experience, that a creative spirit is endless, limitless. His latest book of poetry combines new works with poems published since 1980. As American poet Scott Cairns writes, “Father Murray makes manifest the profound nearness of all that reaches endlessly far, every discrete occasion partaking of ‘the beauty of life and death—and life.’ According to the influential Irish poet John F. Deane, “A Far Country Near is a rich poetry harvest prepared and worked at over many years. The poems have absorbed work of poets like George Herbert, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Denise Levertov, and have their own voice, their own immediacy, their own impetus.” He calls it “a treasury of poetry that must be valued in our vacillating and darkening century.”
  • Host Andi Hauser of WUSA 9’s Great Day Washington will be live at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C., from 9-10 a.m. on Good Friday. She’ll be joined by Fr. Greg Friedman and the Garden Guild’s Joe Bozik. Tune in to wusa9.com/greatday. Great Day Washington, a daily talk show, covers lifestyle trends in D.C., Maryland and Washington. Carl at the Palm Sunday baptism of Wade Michael Enneking
  • “We are blessed with a lot of young families,” says Janie Obermeyer, business Manager at Holy Family Parish in Oldenburg, Ind. Pastor Carl Langenderfer is great about sharing photos, and he sends a lot of pictures of infant baptisms to our office. “We have one almost every week,” says Janie, “sometimes two or three.”  Last year was historic; they recorded about 55 babies being baptized. This year they’re on course to set another record. “It’s only March and we’ve already had 25.”
  • Last Sunday parishioners at St. Stephen Church in Cincinnati celebrated the birthday of their favorite pinch-hitting priest, Fr. Hilarion Kistner. Bubs Kindt, who’s been driving Hilarion to St. Stephen to celebrate Mass for several years, got several photos of the gathering after Mass at which a cake was brought forth in honor of Hilarion’s 89th birthday (it actually occurred two days later). There were so many candles, “It took him three puffs to blow them out,” Bubs says.

Joy is the sure sign of true Christian hope, for we know that evil will not have the upper hand, and that God’s love, revealed on the cross, will ultimately triumph. Certainly, there are times when the gift of hope proves costly. This is the case with so many of our fellow Christians who presently experience persecution, and with the martyrs in every age. Their witness inspires us to continue to hope in Christ’s promises. As missionaries of hope, may we rejoice in God’s saving power, never lose heart, and help others to look to the future with confidence.–Vatican City, Oct. 4, 2017

 

Hosanna! The journey to Easter 2018

PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFM, and Sherron Bennett

Send comments or questions to: sjbfco@franciscan.org

ARCHIVES

 Last Saturday Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltram, 44, a French police officer, voluntarily took the place of a female hostage in a terror attack in a supermarket in Trebes, France.  He was hoping to motivate the ISIS-inspired gunman to end his standoff with the police who had surrounded the building.  It cost him his life.

 God sends an angel in white into all of our tragedies.  He says to us, do not be amazed!  You are looking for Arnaud Beltram on a supermarket floor.  You will not find him there.  Christ and those crucified have been raised up.  Christ and the crucified are alive in the selflessness of a mother who patiently teaches her children to read, in feisty young people defiant about gun laws, in the meek who strongly serve in soup kitchens, in compassionate others finding permanent housing for those with mental illness and no home.  Behold the spot where the crucified were laid.  But all you will find buried here are fear, hatred and arrogance.  The crucified have been raised up.  They are not in a tomb.  They are raised up with Christ.  And they are giving us a new spirit of courage.

Sunday morning we would take our empty baskets and gather the eggs.Dear Sisters and Brothers,

  • Host Andi Hauser of WUSA 9’s Great Day Washington will be live at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C., from 9-10 a.m. on Good Friday. She’ll be joined by Fr. Greg Friedman and the Garden Guild’s Joe Bozik. Tune in to wusa9.com/greatday. Great Day Washington, a daily talk show, covers lifestyle trends in D.C., Maryland and Washington. Carl at the Palm Sunday baptism of Wade Michael Enneking

March 29, 2018

  • Host Andi Hauser of WUSA 9’s Great Day Washington will be live at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C., from 9-10 a.m. on Good Friday. She’ll be joined by Fr. Greg Friedman and the Garden Guild’s Joe Bozik. Tune in to wusa9.com/greatday. Great Day Washington, a daily talk show, covers lifestyle trends in D.C., Maryland and Washington. Carl at the Palm Sunday baptism of Wade Michael Enneking