This was not a typical Easter Sunday. I attended Mass at Our Lady of Tahoe, a small 100 family Catholic church on the Nevada side of the lake.
I slipped down the mountain early for what I expected to be a sleepy subdued sixty minutes and a quick getaway. But that was not in the holy cards.
The over sized chapel that reminded me of my 1960s family room with mahogany paneling had a new Irish pastor as its presider. There was no way I or anyone could sleep through this service.
Father Oliver was right there in the pews singing with us to make sure we were singing. He stopped the ritual before each reading to explain the meaning of the Paschal Mystery and make sure we all appreciated its place in our rich Catholic tradition.
He tapped into his own life to teach us about life experience.
He involved the men, women and children in the pews in his involvement with the Gospel.
When all was said and done I felt like I was on retreat not Easter duty.
I left re-awakened and re-energized about all that Easter was supposed to be about.
Here are some gems Father Oliver left with us:
1) Jesus Christ changed the history of mankind with His Resurrection. His victory over death and promise of hope gave birth to the most dynamic belief in human history. Man has always strived to believe in someone or something greater than himself. Just imagine what our history may have been like without having Christ to believe in.
2) The Resurrection was not some hoax. It was an event that literally divided time into B.C and A.D. The apostles didn’t submit themselves to crucifixion and beheading, nor did hundreds of thousands of Christian offers themselves up to martyrdom, to die for a dead man. They died for a resurrected Christ, the only Person in history to ever conquer death.
2) We Catholics are an “Easter People”. Christ left us a legacy of hope. Because he paid such a price the gift of salvation is free. There is “no charge”for the hope of eternal life, as Father Oliver put it, the life that Christ foreshadowed for us with His own resurrection. All we have to do is give witness to Him. In a world dark with confusion and despair, we provide the light of hope.
As you can tell, I left this humble place of worship with more than just a vision of some old Irish priest giving out golden wrapped chocolate bars from a silver plate to a line of eager children. This Easter Sunday I got my own gift of faith buffed and polished and wrapped in a passionate reflection, ready to appreciate and ready to share.
Thank you Father Oliver.
Now I know why there is a statue of the risen Christ behind your altar.
* Father made them read what was on the wrapper (“Christ is risen”) before he proceeded to hand out the goodies.
Making sense of Catholicism: Easter duty