• Looking ahead: Students are dismissed for Easter Vacation after the Good Friday service (around 4:15 PM), on April 19). All parents are welcome to attend the service, which begins at 2:00 PM (Come early since it is always packed!).
• Reminder: Graduation fee is due for senior families on April 1.
• The next Moms’ Prayer Group meeting is Sunday, April 7, at 7:00 PM, in the Perpetual Help classroom.
• The next Dads’ Prayer Group meeting is Sunday, April 14, at 7:00 PM, in the Perpetual Help classroom.
• Our next baseball games are: Tuesday, April 2, at 3:15 PM, at St. Michael’s; Thursday, April 4, at 3:00 PM, at Fairmont Preparatory Academy [2200 W Sequoia Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801]; Friday, April 5, at 3:00 PM, at Veterans Memorial Park [6364 Zindell Ave, Commerce, CA 90040].
Today, on this “Laetare Sunday,” this day on which Holy Mother Church tells us, even commands us, to rejoice, we hear St. Paul teach us in the Epistle that we followers of Christ are kind of like Sarah, the wife of Abraham, and her offspring. Abraham, St. Paul reminds us, had a child with Hagar, his concubine (something which God did not approve of, but allowed for a time, “because of the hardness of the peoples’ hearts”, as Christ said)—he had a child with Hagar, his slave, and another with his wife Sarah. Sarah, you will remember, was unable to have children all her life. Then, in her old age, God tells Abraham and Sarah that they will not only have a child, but that their descendants will be “as numerous as the stars.” So St. Paul says that the Catholic Church is like Sarah, that is, though we are going through the seemingly long trial of this life, we ought to rejoice. St. Paul then quotes a passage from the Old Testament that says, “Rejoice you who are sterile and cannot bear children, because you will have many children, even more than she who is not.”
Now, anyone who has ever known a woman who wants to have children but is unable, knows that the last thing on that woman’s mind is joy. On the contrary, it causes her much suffering. So this image which St. Paul uses is quite strong. Before our Lord had spoken to Abraham, Sarah would have been anything but joyful. She and Abraham were already very old; even the idea of her having children would have been ridiculous—she even initially laughed at such a proposal. But then our Lord promised her that she in fact would have a child; and based on the great faith that she and Abraham had, they hoped in God’s promises, and consequently rejoiced in what they would soon obtain, namely their son Isaac. To borrow the words of St. Paul, they “rejoiced in hope” [Rom 12:12].
It might seem a bit odd that the Church should have this “Laetare Sunday” right in the middle of Lent, just as there is “Gaudete Sunday” in the middle of Advent. Both these days might seem to make more sense right after Christmas or Easter, since those are liturgical seasons which are filled with so much joy, as we celebrate respectively Christ’s Birth and Resurrection. But as always, Holy Mother Church is teaching us here a very important lesson. In the middle of Lent, when things seem kind of dreary and difficult, it is precisely then that we are instructed to rejoice. Why? Because God wants us to remember that we can and ought to have great joy even in this valley of tears, but a joy not founded upon the things of this world, rather a joy which is founded upon hope, hope in eternal life with Him. Like Sarah, who had great joy because of her hope in having a child.
Remember that hope is that supernatural virtue given to us at Baptism whereby we trust in all the promises made to us by our Lord, most especially the promise of eternal life, provided we do our part and follow Him. Hope, you might say, reaches out and to some extent already possess its object; and therefore it brings us great joy, a joy similar to what we will feel when we actually do possess that good. For instance, on Friday morning, when you know that you’ll soon receive your paycheck, you might be filled with great joy. Why? You don’t yet possess it. But you do possess it in hope. You know that, all things being equal, you will actually have the paycheck soon; and so your hope brings you joy. It is the same, but too a much greater degree, with the supernatural hope given to us by God. We don’t yet possess all the goods of heaven, the complete and unending union with God, no more struggles and trials, no more sin, a life of eternal praise with the Blessed Mother and all the saints and angels. We don’t yet possess it actually, but we do possess it in hope. And this hope ought to bring us the greatest joy, even while we walk through this life. And this is why Mother Church tells us today to rejoice. Just as Easter is not yet here, but will be here soon, so we do not yet possess heaven, but it too will be here soon. We rejoice in hope.
Even a blind man can see that the one thing our present world definitely does not have is hope. Our world lacks hope because it has lost all faith; and because it has no hope, it is completely miserable. Those who reject Christ used to try to substitute Him with other gods, pagan gods of all sorts. Then many tried to substitute Christ with reason, mere human learning. Then it was the state that was held up as a god, the earthly hope of all who would submit to communism. All of these, of course, utterly failed. And now the proud people of today do not even try to fake it. They have rejected Christ, and they do not even pretend to put up anything in His place. They just quickly succumb to despair and misery. As St. Paul said of some of the ancient Ephesians, “they are without hope and without God in the world” [Eph 2:12].
Isn’t it ironic that many scoff at us Catholics as miserable people: “All those rules and commandments, fasting and prayer, going to church all the time, ruled by some old celibate man in Rome.” Isn’t it ironic that they look on us as poor, miserable and unhappy, when in fact we possess a joy that infinitely surpasses anything they can ever imagine. Isn’t it ironic that one can read daily of yet another member of the Hollywood elite—which of course is supposed to be made up of the most glorious and happiest people in the world—isn’t it ironic that we read daily of yet another one of them having a nervous breakdown, going through an unhappy divorce, becoming a drug addict, going to jail, committing suicide. While we “poor foolish Catholics” rejoice, yes even in the middle of Lent (a season of penance), even in the middle of this life. We can and ought to rejoice because we possess in hope the source of all joy, the desire of all hearts, the Greatest Good, Christ. As Pope Benedict once said, the “distinguishing mark of Christians [is] the fact that they have a future…we know that our lives will not end in emptiness…[And] only when the future is [so] certain does it become possible to live the present as well.”
So rejoice today. Rejoice everyday. For, though like Sarah who was for a time without children, we too might seem to the eyes of the world the most miserable creatures, remember that we already possess by our hope all that one can hope for. Remember this always and rejoice; for this joy no one can take from you.
• For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
• For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For the Sturkie Family’s very special intention.
• For the Church.