From the Cardinal: We are an Easter people who are infinitely loved |  April 5, 2024

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Vol. 5. No. 1

My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Alleluia! Christ is risen, and our hearts are filled with joy. In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis tells us that if we accept the Lord’s offer of salvation, “we will be set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness” (#1). 

As baptized Christians, we all find ourselves on a journey. We walk together in the footsteps of the risen Christ as we travel toward our heavenly home. This sacred pilgrimage (the Synodal Church in mission) is not meant to be a time of drudgery and sorrow.

Although we are called to follow Jesus on the way of the cross, we should always remember our Lord’s promise to his disciples: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (Jn 16:20).

For 2,000 years, the saints and martyrs have shown us how to live the Gospel—and take up our crosses—with joy. We are all invited, with St. Paul, to rejoice in our sufferings! 

“The great danger in today’s world,” Pope Francis writes, “is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience… That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ” (EG, #2).

We are called to a dignified and fulfilled life, a life of freedom and joy. “No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her,” Pope Francis says, “since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.”

By a very happy coincidence (a gift of divine Providence), there is a delightful synchronicity between Pope Francis’ teaching and the motto I chose when Pope Benedict XVI called me to serve the Church as a bishop. With this in mind, “Rejoice in the Lord” (“Alégrense en el Señor”) is the title I have chosen for this monthly newsletter.

Now in his 11th year, Pope Francis continues to breathe new life into the Church. In fact, the pope’s influence, teaching and example inspire our Church to develop the spirituality of the poor, present the Catholic faith in a joyful way to young people, explore and embrace our diversity, continue to proclaim the joy of the gospels as communities of faith, articulate a way of life that reflects a universal call to holiness, and boldly speak the truth of God’s love always respecting the history and traditions of the Church even as we find innovative ways to carry out our mission.

We Christians should be joyful all year long, but the Easter season is a time when we are especially conscious of the reasons we have to be filled with joy. “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter,” Pope Francis writes. I hope that’s not the case with us. “Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved” (EG, # 6). 

My hope for every man, woman and child who lives in this great archdiocese and beyond is that when everything is said and done, we will know we are infinitely loved!

Sincerely yours in Christ the Redeemer, 

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R. 
Archbishop of Newark  

Cardinal Tobin’s 2024 Easter Message

My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

We proclaim with joy the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose victory over sin and death has set us free.

Easter confirms that love is stronger than death. That hope is more powerful than despair. And that with the eyes of faith, we can see the face of our Redeemer who died so that we might live.

During this Easter season, our hearts are filled with rejoicing. We do not forget the sorrows that so many of our brothers and sisters are experiencing—in Ukraine, in the Holy Land, in Haiti, and in so many troubled areas of our world. But we rejoice in the knowledge that the resurrection of Jesus has made it possible to hope for peace, to believe in a future that is better than the present difficulties, and to personally encounter the God who loves each of us unconditionally.

This Easter time, I wish you an abundance of the faith, hope and love that Christ’s resurrection has won for us. I pray that this will be a time of rejoicing for you and for all the people you love.

May Christ the Redeemer bless you. Alleluia!

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R.
Archbishop of Newark

A Message from Pope Francis: Words of Challenge and Hope  

(A selection from the Holy Father’s Regina Caeli Message, Easter Monday, April 10, 2023)

Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!

The Gospel lets us relive the women’s encounter with the Risen Jesus on Easter morning. It thus reminds us that it was them, the women disciples, who were the first to see Him and encounter Him.

We might ask ourselves: why them? For a very simple reason: because they were the first to go to the tomb. Like all the disciples, they, too, were suffering because of the way the story of Jesus seemed to have ended. However, unlike the others, they do not stay at home paralyzed by sadness and fear: in the early morning, at sunrise, they go to honor Jesus’ body, bringing aromatic ointments. The tomb had been sealed and they wondered who could have removed that stone, so heavy (cf. Mk 16:1-3). But their wish to carry out this gesture of love prevails over all else. They are not discouraged; they overcome their fears and their anguish. This is the way to find the Risen One: to emerge from our fears, to come out from our anguish.

Let us retrace the scene described in the Gospel: the women arrive, they see the empty tomb and, “with fear and great joy,” they run, the text says, to “tell his disciples” (Mt 28:8). Now, just as they are going to give this news, Jesus comes towards them. Let us take good note of this: Jesus meets them while they are going to proclaim Him. This is beautiful: Jesus meets them while they are going to proclaim Him. When we proclaim the Lord, the Lord comes to us. Sometimes, we think that the way to be close to God is to keep Him tightly close to us; because then, if we reveal ourselves and start to talk about Him, judgements, criticisms arise, and we may not know how to respond to certain questions or provocations….Instead, the Lord comes while we proclaim Him. You always find the Lord on the path of proclamation. Proclaim the Lord and you will encounter Him. Seek the Lord and you will encounter Him. Always on a journey, this is what the women teach us: we encounter Jesus by witnessing Him. Let us put this in our hearts: we encounter Jesus by witnessing Him….

Let us think again of the women of the Gospel: there was the sealed stone and despite this, they go to the tomb; there was an entire city that had seen Jesus on the cross and nevertheless they go to the city to announce that He is alive. Dear brothers and sisters, when one encounters Jesus, no obstacle can prevent us from proclaiming Him. If instead we keep his joy for ourselves, perhaps it is because we have not yet truly encountered Him.

Brothers, sisters, faced with the women’s experience we ask ourselves: tell me, when was the last time you bore witness to Jesus? When was the last time I bore witness to Jesus? What do I do today to make the people I meet receive the joy of his proclamation? And again: can someone say: this person is serene, happy, good, because he or she has met Jesus? Can this be said of every one of us? Let us ask Our Lady to help us be joyful proclaimers of the Gospel.

An image of a painting of the Immaculate Conception_Mary.

My Prayer for You  

Please join me in praying the words of this ancient Easter antiphon addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven:

Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia,
quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,
resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia;
ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia,
has risen as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary. Alleluia! For the Lord has truly risen, Alleluia!