Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

The heart of the Paschal Mystery

By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published April 11, 2018  | En Español

Everyone who has ever owned a car knows that it regularly needs an oil change. The auto mechanics take out the old, used oil and replace it with fresh, new oil, usually along with a new oil filter. This operation helps the engine and the other parts function efficiently and well.

This week, the Church changes her lubricants with the blessing of the sacramental oils that we will use throughout the coming year. These sacred oils, blessed during the Chrism Mass, help us perform well and skillfully in proclaiming and living the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the territory of this local Church.

These oils are used during important sacramental moments that mark our journey of faith. Last week, we welcomed our newest brothers and sisters at the beginning of their lives of faith through the sacraments of Initiation at Easter. Throughout the coming year, we will tenderly care for those who are concluding their lives in peace through the anointing of the sick. At each moment of our voyage of faith, the Church accompanies us with the oils of life. Youngsters will be confirmed, clergy anointed and altars blessed with the Chrism oil. These moments of faith should remind us that Easter is really the beginning of the year of faith—the initiation of life for believers.

There is a newness that belongs to the heart of the Paschal Mystery—the Lord’s Passion, death, and resurrection. “Behold, I make all things new,” wrote the author of the 21st chapter of the Book of Revelation in describing the Lord’s final triumphant rule over all of creation. The week that tradition labels as holy is a prelude to the fullness of God’s triumph at the end of time.

We ritually blessed the oils that we will use this year. We ignited a new fire that symbolizes the energy and light that comes from the Risen Christ. We blessed a festive new candle that symbolizes Christ Himself. We welcomed new members to the family of faith, which continues to grow through the grace of the Holy Spirit. There is a newness about Holy Week that is intended to strengthen our confidence in God’s power in our lives and in all of creation.

This year, a few days after Easter, we will observe the 50th commemoration of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This introspective moment should invite each of us to rededicate ourselves to the goals of peacemaking, racial harmony and the pursuit of justice that he reflected and symbolized for this nation and for the entire world. May the newness of this season bring us all increased hope that these goals that he held so dear will find fulfillment in the lives of those who keep his memory and his life as a sacred treasure.

This Easter is also the beginning of the episcopal ministry of Bishop Joel Konzen, SM. He too is being made new in the service that he will provide for God’s people here in north and central Georgia. Our Easter joy is made even more intense with this happy celebration. There is an obvious newness that ought to touch the entire Church at Easter time. May each of your homes be filled to overflowing with laughter, joy and hope in the Risen Christ, who calls us all to live renewed in our trust and confidence in his Easter triumph and may we all enhance our love for the Lord and for one another.

Happy Easter, dear brothers and sisters in Christ.