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State Chaplin 2016 - 2017

Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

May 2017

The Catholic Church—more than anyone else, I believe—knows how to celebrate.

Look at the way we treat the biggest feast days of the year: Christmas and Easter. First of all, leading up to each of these feasts we have a whole season set aside for our preparation for the celebration. We spend Advent and Lent practicing self-denial so that when Christmas and Easter arrive we might rejoice with purified hearts and exultant spirits.

Then, when the feast days arrive, we don’t just spend a single day commemorating them. Rather, we observe a whole octave—eight days—in which each day is an extension of the feast day itself. Plus, after the octave is concluded, we go on celebrating until another feast day concludes the season (the Baptism of the Lord concluding Christmas and Pentecost concluding Easter).

I always make a point of saying “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Easter” to people all throughout these special seasons because we need reminding that the celebration extends beyond December 25 and the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. (Did you know that’s how the date of Easter is determined?)

Surely the Church urges us to observe these celebrations because she wants the mysteries being celebrated to have as profound an impact on our lives as possible. Don’t you think you ought to derive more benefit from the celebration of Easter by meditating on it for fifty days than you would by considering it only for a day or two?

Here we are, then, in the middle of the Easter season, still pondering the Resurrection of Jesus and its effect on us. Some may think this effect is mainly future-looking, i.e., Jesus’ Resurrection opens the gates of heaven to us so that we can spend our years on earth encouraged by the real hope of eternal life.

I propose that we also meditate on the Resurrection throughout this season so that we might allow the grace of Baptism to penetrate our lived reality more deeply today . Jesus offers us new life today. Jesus invites us to experience the power of the Holy Spirit now. Recall how in his second letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes that “whoever is in Christ is a new creation” (5:17). There is daily renewal in our lives because Jesus rose from the dead.

Venerable Bruno Lanteri (1759-1830), the founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, used to say very often, “Nunc coepi ,” which translates, “Now I begin,” or (more loosely) “Begin again.” He understood the importance not only of persevering in the spiritual life, but also of undergoing the experience of re-creation—of truly being made new in the here and now.

There can be much in life that weighs on us and prevents our experience of new life in Christ. We hold on to painful memories from the past: wounded relationships, patterns of sin, embarrassing mistakes, disappointment, failures, traumas and regrets of various kinds.

Our Mother the Church encourages us to celebrate Easter for fifty days, not only in commemoration of an historical event, but also that we might develop a firmer belief in the power of God’s grace to heal our wounds and strengthen us in our weakness. She encourages us to take advantage of this season by bringing our burdens to the resurrected Lord and hearing him say, “Behold, I make all things  new” (Revelation 21:5). Begin again!

Vivat Jesus!


Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire
State Chaplain