Feast Days in the Catholic Church are most often celebrated on the death day of the saints. This is the day that marks their share in the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. From this day the offering of their life is complete, and the soul is directed to heaven. This is the day that they first might be regarded as “saints.”
There are only three feast days in the Church associated with a birth: Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ; June 24 commemorates the birth of St John the Baptist, and September 8 is the occasion for the Church to celebrate the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These three persons had an extraordinary holiness from the moment of their birth.
With the dawn of Easter, we proclaim our Alleluia with joy. Jesus Christ is truly risen from the dead, just as He prophesied (Mt 17:23; Mk 8:31; Lk 9:22); as He promised His apostles. He lives forever. And His dying and rising is the pledge that we, too, are destined to live an everlasting life.
At the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night – the first Mass of Easter – it is fitting that catechumens are baptized. They are also sacramentally Confirmed, and they receive their First Holy Communion in the Mass.
I remember going to Washington D.C. for the first time many years ago.
We traveled by bus to participate in the annual January March for Life. It was in the morning that we came into the Capitol vicinities and I could see the Washington Monument. During the next days we would see – at least at a distance - the White House, the Jefferson Memorial and the U.S. Capitol. I had seen pictures of these sites in books and on television, but it was striking to see them “in person” the first time.
In doing the work of God; in carrying out our responsibilities as sons and daughters of the heavenly Father, the secret ingredient is love: love for God, love for others. It is the “thing” that can make the difference: like a pinch of salt; like a spoon of sugar; like a small measure of yeast. Love softens and changes things that seem solidified and impenetrable – that don’t appear to be changeable. Love notices things that others may never see. Love sees something in the eyes; it hears something in the voice, and love doesn’t fail to respond in support and kindness.
St Paul tells us that “There abide these three: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love. (I Cor 13:13) St Thomas Aquinas teaches that charity is the formal cause of all the virtues. That is, charity must be the motivation and driving force behind all our virtuous efforts. So also the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by Charity. .. It is the form of the virtues.” (CCC no. 1826)
I was in Rome once at the time of the election of a new pope, I heard a story that went like this: When a new pope is elected, the sacristans at St. Peter’s Basilica polish all the candlesticks and altarware of brass, bronze, silver, and gold. They then do not polish them again throughout the Holy Father’s Pontificate. As the story goes, this is because when the man is elected as pope, he is radiant and new, shiny and bright. As he continues in his tenure as pope, they say, he will fade and grow dull. According to the story, like the altar candles, the zeal and holiness of the Holy Father is likely to tarnish and deteriorate.