Dear Friend of Saint Ann’s Shrine,
From darkness to light –from death to life.
Remember way back on the 1st Sunday of Lent – Jesus, the personification of goodness, and Satan, the personification of evil engaged in a momentous power struggle for the souls of men and women. Satan tempted Jesus to insulate himself from the daily problems of ordinary people and to embrace the trappings of material prosperity, power and glory – only to be repulsed at every turn. Far from wanting to seem superior to others, Jesus reminds Satan that his mission in life is dedicated to help vulnerable people. Far from wanting to lord it over the defenseless people of his day, Jesus would identify himself with the powerless, unimportant, the sick, women and children, the victims of the abusive use of power and privilege. Satan lost that first battle conclusively, but he would never give up trying. Who would be the eventual victor? Who could better influence the people for good or evil? Who had more power, Jesus or Satan? The contest was on!
Satan watched Jesus carefully during his public life and bitterly observed how quickly Jesus made friends with the poor, the widows, the grieving and the children, and how Jesus brought new hope and vision to a people in despair. Satan watched Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead to life, forgive repentant sinners, and tell such marvelous never-to-be forgotten stories of God’s mercy and compassion, like the Prodigal Son and the Repentant Thief…
But Satan, always ready to put up a good fight, congratulated himself, that he also had subtle ways to influence people’s minds and hearts for the purpose of evil. He often gloated how he managed to blind the religious authorities, the Pharisees, Scribes and the High Priest, to the obvious goodness of Jesus and to harden their hearts against him, while handily seducing Peter to deny his master and Judas to plot Jesus’ death for a paltry thirty pieces of silver.
Yes, the power struggle was on, and the always prideful Satan thought he was winning –for on a certain never-to-be forgotten Friday, on Calvary’s hill, Satan gleefully laughed at Jesus writhing in pain and nailed to a cross, abandoned by his timid followers, with only his mother, a few women and the disciple John to comfort him. I’ve won the battle, Satan shouts triumphantly. Jesus is dead and buried in a tomb. Evil triumphs over good.
Or does it? Or did Jesus actually win? Obviously Satan did not know that Jesus was truly the divine son of God, the long expected Messiah, so he did not expect Jesus to rise from the dead…after all, he mused, only a real God could do that – right?
On this Easter 2019, believing Catholics the world over, will shout and chant – Jesus is risen from the dead, alleluia. Jesus is victor over Satan, Sin and Death. Jesus leads us to New Life, alleluia! Last night, at Easter Vigils everywhere, in the midst of darkness outside and inside churches and chapels – a fire was struck, a tall candle was lit to dispel that darkness symbolizing the death of Jesus on Good Friday, people lit their smaller candles from the tall Easter candle representing the Risen Christ, and everyone marched into church singing the thunderous acclamation, THE LIGHT OF CHRIST HAS COME INTO THE WORLD!
In praise of the Risen Christ, the Exsultet song is proclaimed: Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven. Exult, let angel ministers of God exult. Let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty king’s triumph. Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King. Let all the corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness.
However, sad to say, not all the corners of the earth are glad, and there is gloom and darkness as we survey the world we live in today. Although defeated by Jesus long ago, Satan and the spirit of evil and chaos, is continuously engaged in a battle with Jesus to turn people’s minds and hearts away from truth and goodness, from love and compassion. How else explain WHY human beings continue to destroy one another in acts of terrorism abroad and in our own country? How can the human heart not welcome refugees fleeing their war torn or crime ridden countries seeking a new life? What power of hatred and prejudice can induce a person to become a suicide bomber against innocent people? Why do people of different races and cultures that our creator God made to his image and likeness find it so difficult to live together in peace and justice? So many instances today where the battle between Satan and Jesus goes on. The insidious spirit of evil and darkness is in constant contention with the innate goodness and sense of honesty, justice and truth that our loving God built into the human conscience and into everyone who believes in the resurrected Christ and the values he championed.
Jesus triumphed over Satan during his lifetime on earth, and Jesus continues to be the answer to all the forms Evil takes today. The Spirit of Jesus indwells each of us, and his living Presence in the Eucharist is always with us. His wisdom, strength and empowerment is available in the spiritually nourishing effects of his Body and Blood in Holy Communion. Satan will never be a match for Jesus!
You and I have triumphed over Satan and the spirit of evil and sin in our lives during Lent, and hopefully feel resurrected in Christ, with a firmer and more trusting hold on an eternity of happiness awaiting us in heaven with our Triune God. Everyone here at Saint Ann’s Shrine wish you a Joyous Easter and constantly keep you in our prayers. We feel you are an extension of our Eucharistic Family in our founder Saint Peter Julian Eymard. We appreciate any financial help you may offer our religious congregation as we continue to care for our retired priests and brothers, and train future vocations to continue our mission.
Thanking you always for your generosity to Saint Ann’s Shrine, I am
Fr. Roger Bourgeois, SSS
* We invite you and your group to join us at Saint Ann’s Shrine for Daily Mass at 11:30AM, Monday-Friday (call for Holidays)
* Join us for the Triduum as we celebrate Saint Ann’s Feast Day: July 24, 25, & 26 with Mass each evening at 7:00PM in Cleveland. A nine-day Novena is celebrated at Saint Jean Baptiste Church in New York City from July 17th through July 26th with Mass at 7:30PM each day.
* The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament offers a daily devotion/reflection. If you’d like to receive this uplifting message, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* We have Blessed Oil and Holy Water available for a suggested donation of $6.00 per bottle. Contact Saint Ann Shrine at 440-449-2700 or st-ann-shrine.org.
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* Please consider sharing contact information for 3 of your friends or relatives that may be interested in supporting and learning about Saint Ann’s Shrine and the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.
* Please ask your employer if they support a matching gift program and your donation may be doubled!
* Please consider becoming a member of our Legacy Society by naming Saint Ann’s Shrine or the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament in your will. For more information, please contact Scott Gongos, Director of Mission Advancement, at 440-449-2700 or email@example.com. We currently have 235 friends who have committed to the long-term support of Saint Ann’s Shrine and the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament!