Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday

So now that it's almost a week away from Easter, I'll sit and blog about the homilies I heard. So I finished out the Triduum with the Vigil and was quite impressed with my new pastor. While not Fr. Brian's passionate take on the Eucharist and the Priesthood from Thursday night, it was a good homily. Fr. Martin and Fr. Brian are similar yet totally different.

Fr. Martin has seemed semi subdued in his homilies since arriving at the parish, however his homily from the Vigil caused me to remark "I think we got a glimpse of the real Fr. Martin tonight." It can not be easy for a man to pack his bags and leave everything he knew to come to a new country 41 years ago as was asked of Fr. Martin when he left Ireland to come to the States to serve the diocese as a priest, to be asked to do the same thing again shows how much the man loves the priesthood and reminds us of the vow of obedience. As I say the bishop says "jump" the priest responds with "how high?"

Fr, Martin started out his homily by telling us that he was strengthened in his own faith by us, the community of St. Anthony, coming out in great numbers on Palm Sunday, and the amount of people who came for the Triduum. The Church was not packed as it has been in the past but we did have a decent crowd at each of the sections of the Triduum. (Our parish is also 3 times the size if not 4 times the size of his old parish) Fr. Martin went on to thank those that help make the parish beautiful, the staff, Frank (who is in charge of the flowers and decoration of the church), music, servers, readers, Eucharist Ministers, and hospitality. Saved him from having the mention everyone at the end of the Mass, and it was nice to hear in the homily.

Fr. Martin went on to talk about those who have lost a loved one and how Easter is what reminds us that we are buried as a tired body, no soul... that death is a door way to the next life. He went into this by telling us a story of a 4 year old boy who was visiting the cemetery with his grandmother. As he started the story I turned to my friend Jerry and said oh "like Sean" as Fr. Martin mentioned that the young boy was running ahead of his grandmother. While running ahead of his grandmother the young boy stopped by a tombstone and started asking questions, "what's that, what does that say" The boy's grandmother explained that one part was the person's name, the other the date that person was born and the other date the day that person died. A bit further up the graveyard the young boy stopped at another tombstone and asked the same questions, the grandmother responded with the same answers expect this time, there was no date of death, this person was just thinking ahead. The little boy went home and was asked by his mother how he day was and the little boy answered with, "we went to the cemetery and there are people buried there that aren't even death yet." Of course the congregation laughed and
Fr. Martin moves on to how losing a loved one is hard and never easy but that we should remember that we are just a tired body when we are buried, that our souls go to Heaven to be with Jesus, Mary and the Saints, and saints.

Fr. Martin told a second story. He mentioned that we may not know but that he's a huge football fan and he spoke of how a few years ago, when the Giants weren't doing so well, some people took him to a game. He told of how he sat at the game surrounded by Giants fans and how he heard the Giant fans behind him cheering throughout the game. It was strange as the fans would cheer as the Giants would fumble the ball, which is of course not something you normally cheer for. Turns out that the fans behind Fr. Martin had their headphones on and were listening to the Yankee game and the Yankees were playing well in the playoffs. The church erupted in laughter. Fr. Martin finished up his homily with "in the same way that these fans were pumping their fists for their teams, we are to go and pump our fists for Jesus and proclaim that He is Risen."

So when Fr. Brian walked into the gym pumping his fist, I turned to Jerry and said, oh someone took last night's homily to heart. Fr. Brian looked at us like we were crazy but when we said, homily last night fist pumping, he laughed along with us. Easter Sunday was no different for Fr. Brian, he gave another kick ass homily. Like Fr. Martin he spoke of death and resurrection. Fr. Brian spoke of how Easter is reason death isn't bad. He started by having us take a moment of silence for those whom we knew who last in the last year, he had happened to lose his godmother this past year and his mom within 5 years. (Which makes me think that his mom died shortly after he was ordained, he speaks of how her proudest moment must have been when he was ordained, so she was alive for that.) Anyway, both homilies caused me to think of my friend, Katie, and how this would be her first Easter without her son, and then it made me think of her two aunts who had also lost children in the last two years.

After that reminder that Easter is what makes death not so bad, Fr. Brian focused on the Eucharist and that we should be there 52 Sundays not just Easter. He told us that Easter was the time to either commit or recommit to attending Sunday Mass. It was a very nicely put, get your ass to Mass, comment, and that is why I love Fr. Brian, he very nicely said to come to Mass, like you are supposed to. He tells you as it is and is offended if you don't agree.

He went on in his homily to speak about how at Easter "as the risk of sounding like a woman, I buy a new pair of shoes every year at Easter." Fr. Brian's shoes were nice and shiny so I assumed they were either polished or brand new. He spoke of how we should go get new shoes so that every time we put those shoes on we say, I'm going to be a better... priest, son, daughter, mother, father, friend, person. Fr. Brian then added in well in this economy maybe you can't afford new shoes, so get a new toothbrush and pray while brushing your teeth. Saying let no gossip or evil come out of my mouth.

The passion with which Fr. Brian speaks amazes me, like Archbishop Dolan (he's in my head because of his installation.) he is a happy man, a happy priest and that shows. With a last name of Sullivan, I'm assuming there is a fair bit of "Irishness" in him so he can be feisty you can say, but he always preaches to himself first and then the people. You will always hear him say, make me a better person, a better priest, us better people before he says ." make you a better person."

Fr. Brian's priesthood and personality have a tremendous gift to me, I just wish I was able to put it into words. I'm sure that Fr. Martin will have some influence on me in the coming years. I pray that both Fr. Brian and Fr. Martin are granted many years at St. Anthony's and that they continue to be great priests.

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