Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen and Heard (April 12, 2007)

Published April 12, 2007

For the third year in a row (which probably now makes it an ancient tradition by some standards), I celebrated Easter Sunday Mass in the Cathedral gymnasium, where the overflow crowd of young families and guests turned the auditorium into a warm church event. The start of Mass was delayed a few minutes as people found parking a greater than usual challenge and little ones took extra time to get up all those stairs and into the bleachers that served as pews on Easter. What a wonderful sight to behold so many people gathered in what might be considered less than ideal confines to sing with the church an Alleluia to the Risen Christ.

At the end of many of the aisles, some families parked their portable baby car seats that contained a number of tiny Catholics for whom this was a first Easter—for the most part, they were content just to gaze and coo at the bright ceiling lights that were above them.

The tradition of attending Mass on Easter is clearly in good form here in Atlanta, although I realize that in spite of the huge crowds, there are still many people, Catholics and other Christians, who did not attend church this Easter or ever.

We live in a world where many forces vie for our time. Parents work long hours, and more often than not, both parents may be employed outside the home. Sunday mornings are a prized time in the week for hard-working people. Then there are the incessant challenges to religious faith that somehow always seem to manage to display some new affront right around this most sacred time of year—whether it be a highly touted (yet cinemagraphically poorly made) movie that fudges the line between history and fiction, a confectionary creation that manages to offend religious sensibilities, or a cable documentary that suggests that Easter never really happened. There are constant challenges that people of Faith are asked to endure especially during this time of the year closest to Easter that might suggest that our Faith is really only foolishness.

So I am edified that so many people did pause on Easter Sunday to come together in faith, hope, and love to celebrate this most central Mystery of our Faith. I applaud those parents who bring their children to church. They provide not merely transportation but a vital example of Faith.

Our youngsters depend upon their parents (and grandparents) to witness their own Faith in Christ Risen from the dead as the incentive that will inspire them to a deeper love for the Lord Jesus. Even parents who are torn with many other demands on their calendars and who may not be as faithful as they might like to be to weekly Sunday Mass deserve our support when they provide that example of Faith to their children that says that this time is sacred, important and necessary for our family life.

I must admit that our numbers could be and ought to be greater—but I am ever so grateful to all those who came to that Easter Sunday Mass with their children, relatives and out-of-town guests—you made the Cathedral gym into a basilica worthy of the Risen Christ. God willing, I’ll be there next year with them again. Happy Easter to this wondrous Family of Faith!