Jesus is Risen! We had a wonderful Holy Week that was filled with so much peace and joy in the three houses. Also we had the gift that EWTN aired the interview of Mother Elvira on Fr. Mitch Pacwa’s show on the Wednesday of Holy Week. To see her and hear her message, so full of power and love and truth, was for sure a message of resurrection and hope for so many people. The interview was taped last November when Mother Elvira had come to Florida for the 15th Anniversary of Cenacolo in America. Joyce and I had completely forgotten what was covered on the show, because it was a few months ago and because our life is so full with emotion and life, so we watched Mother Elvira like you, grateful for her wisdom, simplicity, and the gift of life she brings us all. Mother Elvira can touch many people now though EWTN. We have had so many people calling us and visiting our website. The calls keep coming. She has given hope to so many people.
Two priests came on Wednesday to give a penance service to the guys in preparation for the Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. Then on Holy Thursday, the Bishop came for the Mass and the washing of the feet. At the end, the Bishop reposed the Lord in the little outside chapel that was the original chapel of Our Lady of Hope. The guys stayed in Adoration throughout the night with the Lord.
On Good Friday we lived day in silence, trying to meditate on the love of Jesus for us that He showed us through His suffering and death. It was very nice to be at OLOH in the quiet. The two houses were there together, doing working but in peace and whispering to each other when we had to communicate about their work. The guys responded with seriousness and maturity, even those who are very young in Community. Then at 3:00 the Bishop celebrated the Liturgy of the Passion for Good Friday that included, of course, the veneration of the Cross. After, we prayed the Stations of the Cross on the grounds. The weather was beautiful, and it was very moving. After the prayers and meditation at every Station, we spontaneously pray, “Forgive me, Jesus, for …” The prayers were deep and genuine.
Dinner was quick since it’s a serious fast. Then the guys watched “The Passion of Christ, ” which brings everything home visually and strongly impacts. It was a very good day, which helped us to move toward Easter with repentance and gratitude in our hearts.
On Saturday the guys prepared all day for the Easter Vigil. As always, the weather was a concern because there was a big chance of rain, but God knows better and protected us, and it was a beautiful evening with a light breeze and a clear sky. It was just perfect, and we did everything outside on the same field where we celebrated Palm Sunday.
Bishop Snyder celebrated the Easter Vigil. It was beautiful with the fire, the water that was blessed for our use, and the Easter candle. Then we had 6 readings of the Old Testament and one from the New Testament before the Gospel. Both guys and girls did the readings. All of them were there except Lauren and Kathleen, because Lauren was not feeling well and Kathleen stayed with her.
The emotions were very high because Lyle and Tom were entering the Catholic Church, so they were being baptized and confirmed and receiving their First Communion. Anthony, Stefano, and Nora were also confirmed. They chose this because of their experience of God’s love in the Community.
In this family of Cenacolo they have experienced in their own flesh, by the life they live every day, that prayer works, that the Eucharist really is Jesus, and that God is a Father who forgives us always. They have experienced His mercy. Through the Community, they now know in their heart that all that the Church offers them is real and true, and they want it for all their lives. They worked hard for the last three months meeting for 2-2 ½ hours, three days a week, to study the Catechism. How beautiful to see their hunger and desire to learn more about the Church that gave them new life. We can just imagine God looking upon them and smiling!
The moment of the baptism was very moving, and there was a lot of emotion involved for everybody. Even the young guys in Community were really touched. There were tears and joy. Then everyone received Confirmation. More tears, more happiness. It is difficult to explain. We were just so much into this beautiful moment.
The Mass lasted about 2 1/2 hours, and it went by so fast. We had beautiful music by our guys and girls. After the Mass we took a bunch of photos, and then we all went to the dining room, where we ate a spectacular cake in the shape of a dove made by our girls. It was so big that it could not even be carried in the normal way through the door. Four guys brought it into the refectory, and they were very nervous to mess it up—they didn’t want the girls to be upset with them!
We had a few other homemade sweets, but it was not exaggerated, like sometimes in the past. The guys had made some pizzette (little pizzas), no more then 3 inches wide, that everyone enjoyed. We had some good family time, a really joyful time!
Tom, Lyle, and Anthony’s families came for the Easter Vigil. We also had some of the local families and some former members. It was just a very special evening. Looking back who all of them were when they came to the Community, and looking at them now, we see the miracles that only God can do in our hearts. No psychiatrist, no medicine, nothing can do this except the lived experience of the love and mercy of God. It is really true that we can Rise with Jesus, like our Mother Elvira always says.
Hope all of you had a wonderful Easter Sunday. Remember we are still in Easter, so keep the eyes of your heart on the Risen Jesus!
Also check for new photos on the website!
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