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from fathers desk

Dear Spiritual Family,

My prayers continue for you and your families as we celebrate new life in Christ during this glorious Easter season. I give thanks to God for allowing me to gather with my brother Sean and father Dave, during part of this week, in a cabin in Cammal, PA. This is the first vacation in a long time and a chance to gather as men, play cards, go hiking and biking, and celebrate Dad’s 65th birthday. Special thanks also to Fr. Michael O’Connor and Fr. Mark Devlin for ministering to our people this weekend. Please offer them a hearty Maple Shade welcome!

Week two of our Mother Knows Best Message Series draws many parallels between the natural and the spiritual. Moms are famous (or infamous?) for striving to keep the house in order. Our Dad would say: “Do whatever Mom told you,” but it was Mom who had the list: clean your room, take out the trash, do not leave your dishes in the sink, pick up after yourself, put yours shoes away, and many other things. I am sure that she got tired of saying the same things. Visits to my siblings’ homes assured me that parents would be even more tired if they did not remind children of their responsibilities, and even scold them, but instead had to clean up after the whole family. Mom was no neat freak, but with these reminders handy, she tried to keep order in the home.

In the Rite of Baptism, the Sacrament of our Rebirth by water and the Spirit in the womb of Mother Church, the font of eternal life, the Sacrament of Salvation and the Sacrament of adoption by which we become children of God. Parents are reminded that they undertake not merely a biological or physical role in raising children, but indeed a spiritual and supernatural role. Mother Church prays that parents be the first and best teachers in matters of faith. Thus parents have a pivotal role in teaching children how to keep their spiritual houses (souls) in order. This requires the cultivation of virtue, the abhorrence of vice, the habit of prayer and good works.

Our readings today possess a common thread that could be called an invitation to repentance, or in this vein, the putting of our spiritual homes in order. Peter admonishes the Jews after Pentecost, “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead...Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.” (Acts 3:15, 19) Jesus implied that same invitation last week when He gave the power of forgiveness to the apostles after they abandoned him in his hour of need. Be instruments of mercy, Jesus implored the apostles. This week the Gospel includes a creedal statement about the purpose of Jesus’ sacrificial death. “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins…” (Lk 24:46-47) Jesus preaches the kerygma to his own disciples to try and open their hearts to the reality of his identity and give them a frame of reference for all that has happened during these tumultuous days. John the Apostle explains to the early Church that Jesus is expiation for sins and that we should never fear to turn to him: “Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world” (1 Jn 2:1-2). Thus forgiveness of sins is front and center in our teaching today.

Just as we are called to keep our homes in order so too we ought to keep our spiritual homes, our souls - the temple of the Holy Spirit - in order. This would include repentance of sins, meaning seeking forgiveness and atoning for wrong-doing (not just saying we are sorry) and above all receiving mercy from the life-giving wounds of Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As your pastor, how I LONG for each member of our parish family to take advantage of the Sacrament, at least once a year, but better still once a season: winter, spring, summer, and fall. The Sacraments affords us the grace to truly and deeply cultivate virtue, abhor vice, and develop a habit of prayer and good works.

Yours in the merciful Lord,
Fr. Wilson