Sermon Notes – April 24, 2022 – I Love Chocolate Bunny Ears

“I Love Chocolate Bunny Ears“

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

April 23 – 24, 2022

Gospel: Jn 20:19-31


This past week ends the octave of Easter.  People say, “We wish you Easter joy.”  Thank you!  Can you define Easter joy?   Is it the day for biting the ears off Easter bunnies?  You barbarians!   I love chocolate bunny ears.  I’ll be a real man and say it. . . I love chocolate bunny ears!  Anyone who wants to make fun of that, I’m a real man and can take it.  However, I don’t do the hard-boiled egg thing.  Is Easter joy about having lamb with mint jelly?  You know what I had for Easter dinner?  A peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  You know why?  I was out of SpaghettiOs.  Welcome to bachelor living!  

So, what is Easter joy?  Easter joy exists on two levels. . .intellectually and internally.  We can have it on an intellectual level by knowing that our dear Lord suffered and died for our sins and then rose again.  In doing so, He opened the doors of Heaven for us so that we might have eternal life.  We all now have a chance to get to Heaven, and He showed us the way.  He also gave us the means to get there.  What are the means in which we can get to Heaven?  Through the Sacramental Life of the Church.   The source of our internal joy is the gift of the Sacraments and by taking advantage of the gifts He gave us by His sacrifice, death, and resurrection.  From His wounded side, the one that Saint Thomas touched, flows the Blood and Water to the Sacramental Life of the Church. 

The Sacraments are the life of the Church.  Our Lord ordained the apostles on Holy Thursday and later gave them the power to forgive sins.  We still hold to that tradition in the Church.  I’m ordained a priest, and I said my first Mass with my bishop.  After that, in the sacristy, I received a document called “faculties” which gives me permission to absolve people from their sins.  Only a priest and a bishop can act in the person of Christ.  They celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and therefore, have the power to administer the Sacraments of the Church which are the fruits of our Lord’s Passion and death. . .the Holy Sacrifice.    Only a priest or bishop can do that.  Remember what is said during the Mass?  “This is My body.  This is My blood.”  I don’t say “This is Christ’s body. This is Christ’s blood.”   During the Sacrament of Penance, I act in the person of Christ.  I don’t say “Christ absolves you.”  I say, “I absolve you” . . .not the “Church absolves you” or “We absolve you” but “I absolve you” while acting in the person of Christ.   The words are very important so that we can have that joy inside of us, and so that we may have the joy of Easter and the fruits of it. 

Through our Good Lord’s Passion, death, and resurrection, we are strengthened so that we can follow Him.  It is through our own Calvary’s and our own resurrections that we can be with Him forever.  Pop quiz:  When do you receive the Holy Spirit?  At Baptism.  “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.”  When is the second time you receive the Holy Spirit?  Penance.  Penance comes before Holy Communion.  One happens before the other.  During Holy Communion, you receive the Savior.  What does He save you from?  Our sins.  If you aren’t sick, there’s no need to see a doctor, and you’re just wasting the doctor’s time. 

In the Sacraments, you see the full Divinity. . .all of It.  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  You may be thinking, “In Confirmation, you also receive the Holy Spirit.”  I like it when I get asked that question.  Yeah, that’s true but we don’t subdivide God with a little slice here and little slice there.  When you receive the Sacraments, you receive all of God, not just parts of Him.   This is how we internalize and experience the joy of Easter, especially the joy of the forgiveness of our sins.  And the joy of receiving our Good Lord like the apostles did from His own hands.  That’s why I am the only one who gives Holy Communion.  I am the priest acting in the person of Christ, so I give you Communion by my own hand.  It’s not that I think that much of myself – I really do – but it is Christ who feeds you.  I am a symbol of Christ, acting in the person of Christ, so it is He who feeds you the Body of Christ.  It is the fruits of our Good Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection. 

That’s how we experience Easter joy.  It’s not from all the beautiful Easter flowers – we got a great deal on them by the way.  It’s not from how beautiful the church looks – and it does.  True Easter joy comes from experiencing God’s love.  Love that was forsaken by sin and rejected by sin.  But that’s not the end of the story.  Most people are happy when they see their loved ones.  In my family, we were happy when they left . . .but, that’s just us.  Aren’t you happy when you have your loved ones with you after being separated from them before their visit?  So too is our Lord.   We have Easter joy by God coming down and infusing His very self into our souls for our salvation.  That is true Easter joy. 

How will you apply this message to your life? 

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to AnnunciationCatholicAlbemarle.com, clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”   Sermon notes can also be found on the Church Facebook page by searching for “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle”


Bible Love Notes – Not a Victim

The Trojan Horse series covers false teachings which have entered the church to undermine sound doctrine.

Nowhere in Scripture does God excuse a man’s sins because of his life circumstances. 

But we do it all the time because Satan has convinced us we’re victims, not sinners. 

We blame our sins on insecurity, poor self-esteem, bad parenting, mistreatment, lack of opportunity, or difficult circumstances. 

But God gave us a biblical example that blows our victim mentality out of the water. 

It’s the story of young Joseph (Genesis 37-50):
Raised in a family of incest, murder, multiple wives, and jealous half-brothers. Sold into slavery. Thrown into prison by a lying adulterous woman. Separated from his home and forced to live as a stranger in a pagan culture. 

He could have wallowed in self-pity, disabled with fear and rejection. But he chose to do the right thing—forgive his offenders, trust God for his circumstances, and make the best of his life. And that’s what we must start doing too. 

No one is a victim when they’re in Christ.*
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*Please understand this within the context of sin. Victims of crime or abuse are not responsible for the crimes committed against them. But the sins committed against them don’t excuse their sinful choices in life.


Bible Love Notes – The Gospel According to Absalom

When a nation rejects God, some professing Christians accept cultural values while maintaining a “form of godliness” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

One example is the increasing number of “Christians” who are neglecting or rejecting parents. Some of these adults are simply ignoring God’s commands because they’re selfish and inconsiderate. Others are fabricating “Scriptural” reasons to cut off or marginalize their parents. This is one reason teachings like Boundaries have become so popular.(1)

If you do a Google search about adult children neglecting or rejecting parents, you’ll find the majority of articles blame parents. This means most younger adults are mature and unselfish and most older adults are not. Of course, this isn’t true.

I call it “the gospel according to Absalom” because Absalom is the “patron degenerate” of this attitude (2 Samuel 13-19). He may have had some reasons to be disappointed in his father’s conduct, but he thought he had the right to dishonor and punish his father, King David. 

If we aren’t honoring our parents, we aren’t honoring God. It’s a very basic test of faith. Sadly, we’re hearing very little from the church about this problem which is succinctly described in Proverbs 30:11-14 and clearly addressed in Ephesians 6:2-31 Timothy 5:4, and Matthew 15:3-9.  

(1) For an example of the Boundaries focus, see Blame Your Mom.


Saint of the Day – April 20 – Saint Donan

St. Donan (d. 617 A.D.), also known as St. Donnán of Eigg, was a prominent Celtic missionary and Gaelic priest. Little is known of his life except that he was likely an Irishman who traveled as a missionary throughout Galloway and northward along the west coast of Scotland. He is thought to have been a contemporary of St. Columba. Donan formed a religious community on the tiny northwest island of Eigg in Scotland. The community grew to fifty-two men. One year, after celebrating the Easter Vigil Mass, they were unexpectedly attacked and martyred either by pirates or a band of Viking raiders. Tradition holds that the community was gathered together and killed in the refectory on the night of April 17, 617. The martyrdom of Christian missionaries at this time was rare, leading many to suspect the attack was instigated by a malicious local queen who viewed St. Donan and his monks as a threat to her power. His feast day is April 17.

//Catholic Company//


The Secret of Happiness

“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day.” —St. Gianna Beretta Molla

//Ascension//


Minute Meditation – Strength of Conviction

Dear God, we ask that you hear our Lenten prayer of praise, surrender, and petition. We praise you for the many gifts that you have given us. We surrender our control, seeking to follow Jesus’s model of humility, while striving to love as he loved us. We recognize that suffering comes with love, that great love and great suffering can transform us, but that neither experience is necessarily easy. We offer our petition to you, praying that we might have the strength of our convictions, the hope of our faith, and the joy of that hope when times are difficult. May we always place our trust in you and commend our whole selves to your care. In doing so, may we always proclaim, in word and deed, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done! Amen.

—from the book The Last Words of Jesus: A Meditation on Love and Suffering,
by Daniel P. Horan, OFM, page 93

//Franciscan Media//