Ti Biag Ken Pammati

Happy Easter Everyone! Alleluia!

Deacon Patrick Constantino

Photos courtesy Dcn. Patrick Constantino

Author’s note: On April 4, Christians around the world celebrated Easter Sunday. I was honored to give the Homily during Mass at St. Joseph Church in Makawao. I decided to use my Homily as the message for this month’s column because Easter is celebrated not only after Holy Week but for fifty days, leading to Pentecost.

Deacon Pat preaching homily on Easter Sunday.

Happy Easter everyone! Alleluia! It feels so good to be able to say that again after such a long time. Alleluia! It brings me great joy to gather with all of you to rejoice in and give thanks to God for the greatest gift we could ever imagine—the gift of redemption, the gift of salvation, the gift of new life won for us through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus! Think about that for a second.

Our God refused to simply sit on the sidelines and watch us continue to stray, watch us pursue our self-centered goals, watch us wander down a path that was leading us away from Him. Rather, our God chose to fully immerse Himself in our world, chose to become one of us, chose to become like us so we could become more like Him. Imagine that.

Stations of the Cross outdoors was led by Fr. Michael and the Youth team.

What a God we have! Alleluia!

And as with all the great celebrations of our Church Year, we will break out music that we save for this particular season—songs which allow our hearts and voices to give praise to our God who loves us beyond all understanding—a love so strong even death is powerless in the face of it. We know these hymns well.

They include Alleluia Sing to Jesus, Crown Him With Many Crowns, This is the Feast of Victory For Our God, just to name a few, and the one that probably is tops on many of our lists—Jesus Christ is Risen Today—an oldie but goodie! It’s nearly impossible to sing these songs and not feel true joy, not feel true hope, not feel secure in the loving arms of our God. Alleluia!

But the one that moves me the most is one we don’t always necessarily associate with Easter, one that we sing only occasionally throughout the year, if at all. Yet, this song, for me, contains some truly poetic words that express what lies at the heart of what we are celebrating this day. I’m talking about Morning Has Broken.

I played it almost every day last year about this time, the well-known Cat Stevens version, as this country and world were first paralyzed by the pandemic, wreaking a widespread destruction nearly everywhere. And I did so because of what the songs says, of what it implies, of the deep truth it reinforces. You see, in the midst of great uncertainty, in the midst of fear and sorrow and confusion, the words to this song helped me remember the truth Jesus made possible through the great act of love we celebrate this day.

Blessing of fire and lighting of Paschal candle by Fr. Michael. What a beautiful setting at the entrance of St. Joseph Church.

And what is that truth? What is that hope?

Morning has broken, like the first morning Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.

Think about that. When we talk about salvation, when we talk about new life, when we talk about reconciliation with our God—what we’re really saying is that the power of Jesus’ resurrection is the power to create each of us anew each day. Every day is a new Eden—full of promise, hope and beauty. Every day we get to start again—looking forward, not backward, looking at what might be, what could be, rather what was.

The Adoration of the Holy Cross by Fr Michael and Deacon Pat

Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

Jesus made all that possible—the Divine Word made flesh—our God pouring Himself into our world and into our hearts, showing us the incredible power of love and thereby transforming every living thing, the whole of creation—in ways we can’t even imagine. God made this world good. And it can still reflect that goodness.

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from Heaven. Like the first dew fall, on the first grass.

What an image! The reconciliation Jesus has brought about, the mercy he extends to us, the power of the resurrection, allows us to be the very people he created us to be—people who have the capacity to help make this world the beautiful place he created it to be—have the capacity to bring a little bit of Eden to a world in desperate need of it.

The over flow parishioners celebration Mass via live stream in our Gym. Coordinated by Deacon candidate Jayson Jacintho, his wife Diana and the Youth.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning. Born of the One Light Eden saw play.

Wow! That’s good stuff. Do we believe it? Seriously? Do we believe it? Do we believe that a new day has dawned? Do we believe the world can be different? Do we believe we can be different—full of love and mercy and kindness and generosity? Do we believe that everything is different because God has made it so, because Jesus, the new Adam, has died and risen to make it so?

It takes faith to believe such a thing. It takes faith to believe the death and resurrection of Jesus has changed everything—not just in regard to the end of our earthly lives but in regard to this very moment, this very morning, this very day—a brand-new day full of possibility and promise and hope and wonder and beauty.

Fr Michael with Deacon Candidates Jayson Jacintho and John Metz with the Youth leaders of St. Joseph, after leading The Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.

What a God we have!

Praise with elation, praise every morning. God’s re-creation of the new day.

My friends, whoever you were yesterday—doesn’t really matter.

Whatever you did in your past, whatever ways you have strayed—doesn’t matter.

Whatever you don’t like about yourself—doesn’t matter.

Whatever problems you are having or grief you are carrying …

Whatever is breaking your heart or weighing you down …

Whatever cross you are carrying …

Fr Michael and Deacon Pat prostrating in front of the altar, on Good Friday.

These things don’t win!

They won’t get the best of us. They don’t get the last say. They are not the end of the story—not the end of our story. God wins. Every single time—and therefore gives us an opportunity to wake up each and every day and be the person not only we want to be but to be the person God wants us to be—for God, for ourselves, and for the world. That’s what it means to be a resurrection people, an Alleluia people, a people of faith, a people who live in the light and power of what we are celebrating today.

Put simply—every Good Friday can and will be followed by an Easter Sunday.

May we leave this holy place this day with deep gratitude and love for what God has done for us, what Jesus has done for us, what the Spirit has done for us.

And may we come to realize that a beautiful world is possible, a new Eden. But it will only come about if we infuse it with the love of God which is beyond all understanding. It’s in our hands—not because it has to be so but because God wants it so—invites us to work with Him, invites us to walk hand in hand with him, transforming this world one person at a time. That’s not a burden but actually a gift. God could do it alone but chooses not to. And He does so because He loves us and knows what we are capable of.

Liturgy of Holy Masses celebrated by Fr. Michael Tolentino.

What a God we have! The victory has been won! He is risen! And each of us gets to share in the victory!

Morning has broken! Now what do we intend to do with it?

Have a blessed Easter everyone!

Jesus, I trust in You! Amen!

On June 18, 1987, Patrick Constantino was ordained as the first Deacon of Filipino ancestry for the Roman Catholic Church in Hawai‘i. For twenty-two years, he served as Administrator at Holy Rosary Church in Pāia, St. Rita Church in Ha‘ikū and St. Gabriel Church in Ke‘anae. Constantino is presently assigned to St. Joseph Church in Makawao.

Prior to his ordination, Constantino was in government—first appointed in 1966 as Assistant Sergeant of Arms by the Speaker of the House Elmer F. Cravalho. When Cravalho became Maui’s first Mayor, Constantino became his Executive Assistant—the first of Filipino ancestry. Later, Constantino became the first County Treasurer of Filipino ancestry and the first County Grants Administrator and Risk Manager of Filipino ancestry.

Constantino has served as a Deacon for thirty-three years and married to his lovely wife Corazon for fifty-nine years.