Below are a few photos from the Easter Vigil last night and the Easter Sunday Family Mass this morning with the Easter Egg Hunt following on the front plaza of the church. You can see the full photo gallery on the “photo page” on our website here. Easter Sunday was a beautiful day here at Saint Anthony’s. I pray it was for all of you and your family members as well.
The Sanctuary of our church was beautiful!
During my Family Mass homily I told the story of the meaning of the Easter Egg and about how it represents the empty tomb and the candy inside the egg the sweetness of the Resurrection. Above, I hold a large Easter Egg in my hand as I explain.
After Mass we gathered on the front plaza of the church for an Easter Egg Hunt. The Mass was filled with young families and children.
It was a very “cool” Easter at Saint Anthony’s this year!
Mayor Joe Delfino of White Plains was at Mass and it was great to see him!
The kids brought their Easter baskets for the Egg Hunt.
The Easter Bunny and I got the Egg Hunt off to a good start.
Easter Eggs cover the front lawn just before the Egg Hunt began.
The church was filled to overflowing with standing room only.
The Paschal Candle is lit in total darkness at the Easter Vigil.
As the Paschal Candle is carried through the darkened church the priest sings, “Christ our Light” and all respond “Thanks be to God”. As the candle is carried through the darkened church smaller candles held by everyone in the congregation are lit from it. This action is representative of the fact that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world and He enlightens all who come to Him and are reborn in the Sacrament of Baptism.
Everyone in the congregation hold candles lighted from the Paschal Candle. Soon the darkness has been scattered by the Light! This is meaning of Easter.
Above, I incense the Paschal Candle at the Easter Vigil.
The congregation listens intently to the reading of the Epistle during the Easter Vigil.
I pray the Eucharistic Prayer at the Easter Vigil.
Father Peter and I join in the Eucharistic Prayer.
We take this opportunity to wish all of you our parishioners and friends a very Happy and Blessed Easter! May the Peace, Joy and Love of the Lord’s Resurrection be with you today and remain with you forever!
Father Chris, Father Peter, Father Matt and Father Jude
Before this day gets away from me I must add a personal post here. Today is a special day. Today is my mother’s 70th Birthday! Ordinarily, if this was not Easter weekend I would have tried to fly to North Carolina to visit for a couple of days but, under the circumstances, that visit will have to wait for a little while. Two of my other brothers surprised her today by arriving from out of town to be there for her birthday. By now my flowers and balloons should have arrived. I hope so.
As we get older we begin to realize more than ever before how much our parents have done for us and what sacrifices they have made for us. That certainly is the case for my siblings and me. My mom and dad gave all of us the best upbringing any kid could have ever wanted. We always had so much more than we ever deserved that’s for sure. And, one of the things I will always remember from my childhood was how all of our friends and neighbors always wanted to “hang out” at our house because as they said, “it was the funnest house in the neighborhood.” Yes it was a fun house but it was also a happy house and that was due to my parents who made it so. Most importantly, my parents gave us the greatest gift they could, they gave us our faith. My parents taught us the importance and the value of prayer and of keeping our relationship with God alive and first in importance in our life. For all of these things we will always be grateful. So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM and many, many more happy, healthy and blessed years to you!
This picture of my mom and dad and me was taken last year when we were in Rome. It is taken on the roof of the North American College with Saint Peter’s Basilica in the backround.
Below is the text of the homily I delivered tonight at the Easter Vigil here at Saint Anthony of Padua Church. I offer it for the benefit of those who might be traveling away from the parish or for any who might be interested in these words. I pray they are helpful and a particular Easter blessing to you all. Photos of the Easter Vigil will be available on the website tomorrow and videos will be coming within the next few days. Happy Easter!
Reverend Christopher Monturo
Homily – Easter Vigil
March 30, 2013
Saint Anthony of Padua Church
Several years ago a friend of mine and of my family was jailed for two years. His offenses were, in fact, not very serious but he was incarcerated none the less. Those years were a very dark time for him and for his family and for those of us who cared about him. On the day of his release his wife and children and many friends went to the prison and waited outside for him. I was one of them. He was released very early in the morning just after daybreak I can remember it so vividly. When we saw him appear at the exit we all began to cry. He ran from the door with his hands high in the air screaming “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!!!” And he ran into the embrace of his wife and children. That was a very happy day. He was free!
Easter is meant to be the most happy day! We should try to put aside, at least for today, our troubles and our worries and open ourselves to that spirit of joy which is expressed so perfectly in that word of Easter – “Alleluia.” That word is a Hebrew word but it needs no translation really because it is much more an expression of the heart than of the mind. It suggests feelings which transcend the intellectual and represents a peace, a sense that all is right after all, that God truly is good, He is our God and we are His people.
Easter is certainly a happy day but it is also a serious day because it is concerned, remember, with the ultimate meaning of life and the value of human existence. I do not intend to bring a somber tone to our otherwise joy-filled celebration. This is what I mean. Easter is concerned with two realities about which none of us has any direct experience. The two realities of which I speak are death and resurrection. No one here tonight has ever traveled through the dark doors of death. And, we have not heard from anyone who has now passed to the “other side.” Oh yes, we may feel we have felt a “sign” from someone who has died, but none have come back to report exactly what the experience is. Houdini, the famous magician, spent a great deal of money, time and effort, trying to contact his dead mother, but all to no avail. No voice from the dead.
Since we have not experienced death, we have not experienced resurrection. And yet death is more real to us than resurrection because we have all observed death. We have all seen someone who has died. We have attended the funerals and burials of those we love. So we know its results. Yes we have all experienced the loss of someone we have loved. And, that loss cannot be recovered on this earth. Nothing seems more final than death. And at times that sense of finality, humanly speaking, can be very painful. Resurrection is a hope that can actually seem weak in comparison to the obvious power of death.
Unlike Houdini, however, through faith we have heard a voice from beyond the grave. It is the voice of Jesus who says, “Peace be with you. Do not be afraid.” Our Savior has gone before us to lead the way and to show us that death will lead to the everlasting life of the resurrection. And so union with Christ becomes the motive for our hope.
To help explain what I mean let me use a story from my childhood. Maybe some of you can relate to it. When I was a child I use to come to New York from where we lived in Atlanta to visit my grandparents during the summer months. My grandparents use to take me into New York City to show me around the various parts of the city and to do different things. We would always take the Long Island Railroad into the city from where they lived on Long Island. And, there was one place in Queens where the train would have to go through a long tunnel. As a kid I would always become very frightened whenever we would have to travel through that tunnel because it was very dark and I wondered what would happen if another train was coming and we had a crash or if we got stuck in the tunnel and never came out of the darkness. I would hold my grandmother as tight as I could and she would reassure me that everything was going to be ok. And one day she told me, “don’t worry the engine and the first cars are already out of the tunnel on the other side. They are already in the light and we are sure to follow.” You see what I didn’t realize in my fear and anxiety was that the engine and the other cars had already emerged into the brilliant daylight. And, the cars in which we were riding were sure to follow. The only condition is that they remain connected to one another and to the engine.
Jesus Christ has emerged from the dark tunnel of the tomb to the brilliant day of resurrection. We are sure to follow Him – united as we are with each other and with Him in the Church. Those who are baptized have died and been buried with Christ, but we also have a share in His resurrection because we have received new life, the life of Christ Himself. We say this sometimes without even realizing what a great gift this life is. It is a peace, a joy, a contentment not a giddy superficial nervous laughter but a satisfying contentment deep within which tells everyone we meet in the world we are members of the Body of Christ. It is the contentment and joy which every human heart yearns for. To you who are baptized tonight, this is the life you share. This is the special, unique and supernatural gift which you receive from God. Use it well, appreciate its worth and share it with others. And that goes for all of us.
When we share in the life of Christ through the Sacraments especially of Baptism, Eucharist and Reconciliation, we are freed from sin and the burdens which so often shackle us with worries, fears and anxieties are cast off. This is what the readings from both the Old Testament and the New Testament remind us of tonight. Isn’t that what we all want – to be free? In our Easter celebration we hear those beautiful, deliberate, uplifting words of Jesus: “Peace be with you. Do not be afraid.” This is His wish for each one of us, peace. And in His peace there is no fear, no darkness at all. So in our gratitude and joy we run, like my friend released from prison now free, with our arms held high into the embrace of the Lord of Life proclaiming our jubilant Easter acclamation, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!”
Below are a few photographs of the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion and Death at 3:00PM Friday and the Stations of the Cross last evening at Saint Anthony’s. More photos of all of our Holy Week celebrations are on our photo page on the website. Feel free to take a look. The Easter Vigil begins tonight at 8:00PM and I encourage all to come and join in this high point of the liturgical year.
Silent prostration before the Altar at the beginning of the service.
Reading of the Lord’s Passion.
Altar servers pray during the service.
I gave a brief but, I hope, meaningful homily.
The Cross is brought forward for veneration.
I lead the congregation in the “Our Father” just before the reception of Holy Communion.
The Prayer after Communion and then all departed in silence.
Father Peter and I lead the people in the Stations of the Cross.
Following the Stations of the Cross the people came forward to venerate the Cross.
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper was beautiful this evening. Photos of tonight’s Mass should be posted on our website here sometime tomorrow for you to see.
Following the Mass I traveled with a group of parishioners to three nearby churches to visit the repositories at each parish. This is a tradition that is beginning to fade away unfortunately but it is important to keep these things alive and to pass them on to the younger generation. We tried to do some of that tonight.
Below are photos of the various repositories we visited with a description.
Our first visit was to Resurrection Church in Rye.
Our second visit was to Saint Gregory the Great Church in Harrison.
Our third and final visit was to Saint Vito’s Church in Mamaroneck.
I was so happy to see Monsignor James E. White, the Pastor of Saint Vito’s, when we arrived. Monsignor White is a very good friend and a fine priest.
It was also great to see another good friend, Brother Thomas E. Kelly, C.F.C., an Irish Christian Brother from Iona who was on hand to assist Monsignor White as Master of Ceremonies.
Monsignor White blesses one of the children who attended tonight’s Mass at Saint Vito’s.
Over the last couple of days I have spent time visiting many of our homebound and ill parishioners. Since most of them cannot come to church during Holy Week, Father Peter and I help to make the Lord present to them by our visits and by bringing the Eucharist to them.
During one of my visits a parishioner who is at home recovering from surgery gave me a beautiful Eucharistic meditation. She told me that she has said this prayer at every Mass after she receives Holy Communion for many years.
Since today is Holy Thursday and the day on which we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, I offer it to all of you and encourage you to make a copy of it and use it. So often when we are in church at Mass we can become very distracted by many things. I encourage you to take this prayer and pray it daily. Pray it especially when you receive Communion and let it be a meditation that guides the thoughts and actions of your life not only today on Holy Thursday but every day.
O Bread of life, O Lord of love
Give us the strength that is your light,
For you are Christ, the living God,
And in your grace we find our might.
Divine Redeemer, Lord of life,
Teach us to choose the better part.
To Choose yourself the lasting Bread,
Our only need of mind and heart.
Yesterday afternoon the priests of the Archdiocese of New York gathered at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass. It is at this Mass that the Oils are blessed for use in the parishes of the Archdiocese throughout the coming year. Also, the priests renew their priestly commitments in the presence of the bishop at the Chrism Mass.
It was so good to see so many priest friends who I don’t get to see as often as I would like. And, it was great to see many of our parishioners there as well. I was proud Saint Anthony’s had a large and supportive representation!
The Cathedral is almost completely encased in scaffolding as it undergoes extensive renovations.
For almost a half hour Madison Avenue and 51st Street were closed as several hundred priests processed from the Palace Hotel where we vested to the Cathedral for the Mass.
Cardinal Dolan blesses the Oils in the Sanctuary.
Cardinal Dolan waits for the offertory gifts to be brought forward.
Following the Mass at the Cathedral the priests were invited to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center on First Avenue where we had dinner. We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Priestly Ordination of Bishop Josu Iriondo one of the Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese of New York.
Last week I spent a couple of days in the Washington, D.C. area taking care of some important family business there. Through the kindness of the pastor, Monsignor Edward J. Filardi, I was fortunate to be able to reside during my brief visit at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bethesda, Maryland. It was a pleasure to be able to celebrate Mass there each day. And, meeting the staff and being able to spend some time with the priests who are assigned to the parish was a real joy.
Most catholics, when they enter a church, look around for and pick up a parish bulletin. Priests are no different. As I read the parish bulletin at Our Lady of Lourdes from the previous weekend (March 17, 2013) I was struck by the “Pastor’s Letter.” In it Monsignor Filardi gives a very honest and accurate assessment of the way the secular media has misused and sensationalized the “Clergy Abuse Scandal” in relation to the recent Papal Conclave and election. Please note that the column was written the weekend before the election of Pope Francis.
I offer this column to all of you, our parishioners and friends, because I think it articulates in a very thoughtful and concise way the truth and also what we need to hear regarding this important subject. I am sure we all probably feel much the same way about it. Reading something like this helps to clear away some of the fog, sift through a lot of the emotion and re-ground us in reality. Every once in a while that’s important!
Enough Already! This is what I want to shout each time I read an article on the election of the pope, (which at this reading may already be accomplished.) It is not that I am tired of reading about ‘papabile‘, the ‘popefuls,‘ but because I have yet to read an article which does not seem obliged to tout ―the priestly abuse scandal. Don‘t get me wrong, I am glad the media holds us to our high standard. But at the same time the impression given, I suspect intentionally, is that 1. the Church has done nothing to address this issue, 2. that these crimes continue rampant and un-abated to this day, and 3. that this is particular to the Catholic Church. None of these are accurate.
As to the first, I challenge any to find one organization that has a stricter protocol in place to root out this evil from its midst, and to prevent it from ever happening again. You will find none. A policy of zero-tolerance means no known violator is still in ministry. At the first allegation they are removed from ministry– a guilty before innocent approach, if you will. Secondly, most cases happened decades ago. But you would never know this from the papers. By the time I applied for the seminary in 1990, all candidates had to undergo a rigorous, even demeaning, battery of tests to determine suitability and evaluate psycho-sexual development. Once accepted, our training addressed solid moral teaching & healthy self-understanding. Furthermore, we receive ongoing training so as to remain vigilant in protecting our children. I dare to say there is no safer place for anyone than a Catholic institution.
Thirdly, and perhaps most misleading, is the inference that this type of abuse is somehow particular to the Church and its clergy. Nothing could be more antithetical to what we stand for as Catholics, to the good of souls, and to why I give my life as a priest. It is a horror and a shame that even one such predator should have used the priesthood as a pretext for his predilection. But even at its height, particularly after the moral rebellion of the 1970s when such things were ill understood and irresponsibly addressed, statistics show it involved a small percentage of the clergy (less than 5%) and reflected the percentage of such deviant behavior found in the general population.
Of course, you are unlikely to read any of this in the secular media. Don‘t get me wrong, we need them to hold us accountable. But let‘s face it, the obsession with “abuse in the church” is more about demoralizing me and you, than with addressing with accuracy and honesty a true moral evil. Not only is this misleading but is dangerous, as it tends to divert attention from the wider existence of such abuse in society, and ignores the deviant behavior that lies at the core of this scourge. The fact is, for the last number of years the Church has strongly addressed this destructive and criminal behavior. And we must continue to do so with vigor and vigilance. Would that the world would do the same.
Msgr. Edward J. Filardi
Well, we have begun Holy Week! It is hard to believe that these sacred days are upon us once again but they are! The Holy Week schedule of services is listed here on our parish website and I encourage you to be present at all of the celebrations and allow these days of Holy Week to truly inspire your faith in a deep and personal way.
Thanks to Bob Serra for taking photos during the 10:30am Mass this morning. The pictures are listed on our “photos” page under Holy Week 2013.
Once again, this year, Sister Ana and Sister Alba of Sacred Heart Church in Newburgh created the most beautiful palm arrangements for us to carry in procession at the Masses this weekend. This truly is a labor of love on their part and I thank them sincerely for their hard work. I have included a couple of photos below of their work.
Above, you can see the very detailed work done on this palm arrangement. We carried several of these in our Palm Sunday procession today.
This photo gives you an appreciation for the actual size of each arrangement – almost 6 feet in height.