Easter ‘presses the reset button,’ Archbishop Hebda says

| March 27, 2016 | 0 Comments
Basilica of St. Mary added hundreds of extra chairs for Masses on Easter, but their were still scores who had to stand at the 9:30 a.m. Mass. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis added hundreds of extra chairs for Masses on Easter, but there were still scores who had to stand along the walls of the church at the 9:30 a.m. Mass, at which Archbishop Bernard Hebda presided. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Amid a world troubled by terrorism, conflict and hurting families, Easter is that moment of realization that God in his mercy offers second chances, third chances, fourth chances, Archbishop Bernard Hebda said as he presided at Easter Sunday Mass for the first time as archbishop-designate of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Appointed just four days earlier, Archbishop Hebda said he was honored and privileged to celebrate this Easter with the standing-room-only crowd of worshippers at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, the co-cathedral of the archdiocese.

“I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to see the Basilica so crowded,” the archbishop said following an entrance procession full of pageantry, with banners, bells and a brass orchestra, plus incense and scores of choristers.

“This feast that we celebrate is the hope that Jesus brought to a fallen world,” the archbishop said, preaching without notes and using his hands and arms expressively.

Noting that bishops are not immune from having to go to confession, he drew laughter from the assembly when he told how he is greeted by confessors at a Benedictine monastery in New Jersey that is renown for the sacrament of Reconciliation.

“The first time I went to confession there, the priest who greeted me said, ‘Welcome, you filthy sinner,’ ” the archbishop said.

During subsequent confessions at that monastery, he said he received greetings that reminded him “Jesus had been waiting for him” and that confession offered him “a chance to push the reset button,” Archbishop Hebda said, quoting the monk-confessors.

“What we celebrate today,” the archbishop said, “is that Jesus has pressed the reset button for the whole world, for all of history.”

Jesus’ resurrection calls for a response, he said. Like the apostles who believed that Jesus had risen from the dead when they entered the open tomb, believers today are to be missionaries, he said.

“When we see and we believe, we’re called to go forth in the world and share that story, to tell others that Jesus is risen,” Archbishop Hebda said.

A world that faces terrorism, conflict and hurting families needs that hope, he said, adding, “Into that strife comes our God.”

Knowing what God in his mercy has done personally, he said, “Easter then calls us to be instruments of God’s mercy by performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy for others, treating our brothers and sisters with the joy of the resurrection of Christ, with the mercy of the Father.”

Claiming the inheritance as sons and daughters of God, Christians have a destiny to be beacons of hope and balm for those who suffer, Archbishop Hebda said.

“Let’s claim that inheritance,” he said, “this day and always.”

Homily appreciated

Melanie Rettie, a Basilica parishioner who is active in the Emmaus Ministry that supports those in life transitions, called the archbishop’s homily “very entertaining.”

“His stories about the sacrament of Reconciliation were inspiring,” the semi-retired management consultant said. “I think he’s a solid leader. He brings the spirit of Christianity we need.”

Peace Tossou said she liked the archbishop’s homily, too, and her husband, Alex Affanoukoe, said the choir’s singing was beautiful. The couple, natives of Togo who are Extraordinary ministers of Communion at the Basilica, were among many who had their photo taken with the archbishop after Mass.

Jim and Jane Nichols, parishioners of Pax Christi in Eden Prairie, said they came from their home in Bloomington to enjoy the richness of the Easter celebration at the Basilica. Both said they felt very positively about the appointment of Archbishop Hebda as their new archbishop.

“I think he’s a very wonderful man,” Jane Nichols said. “He’s got a welcoming attitude, and that’s very good for the archdiocese. I’m glad he’s here and not in New Jersey!”

After greeting and being welcomed by hundreds, Archbishop Hebda said his first Easter Mass in Minnesota was “magnificent.”

“All the staff here at the Basilica do such a great job of planning for the liturgy, this was wonderful,” he said.

“This is heaven for me.”

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