Celebrating Easter Sunday Mass on April 12 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Wilton Gregory said that in a time conscious world, Jesus’ resurrection at Easter began a new time for humanity.

“Everything is made new in the light of Christ’s resurrection, so reset your watches and clocks and calendars… a new day has dawned, and we are destined to live forever in God’s time,” he said.

The Gospel reading from St. John told the story of Mary Magdalene discovering the empty tomb of Jesus on Easter morning, and Archbishop Gregory noted that the Gospel writer was very specific in describing the time that event took place.

“On the first day of the week, the time of the very day on which God began His creation in the first place in the darkness before the sun emerged, the true Son rose… the Son that rose that day will never set. Darkness is forever banished because of this new day of creation,” the archbishop said.

Archbishop Gregory said that “Easter is the dawn of a new world and the beginning of a new creation, a new era that transforms all creation and extends the invitation to all of us to begin living in a new way…”

The Easter Sunday Mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral began with the joyful singing of “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.”

Since public Masses are not being held for the time being in the Archdiocese of Washington in accordance with government restrictions on the size of public gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, there was no congregation at the cathedral's Easter Sunday Mass.  

The liturgy -- like the archbishop’s other Holy Week and Easter liturgies from the cathedral -- was livestreamed on the archdiocese’s YouTube channel and celebrated in English and Spanish with sign language interpretation. 

Archbishop Gregory sprinkles holy water during the April 12 Easter Sunday Mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral, after he led renewal of baptismal promises for those present and those viewing the Mass via livestreaming. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

In his opening remarks at the Easter Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, Archbishop Gregory noted that the Mass was being viewed by people in many different places, “and we are united in faith this Easter morn.”

The archbishop’s livestreamed Easter Sunday Mass from St. Matthew’s Cathedral was viewed by more than 3,600 people from throughout the archdiocese, including parishioners from Washington, D.C., and surrounding Maryland counties and Southern Maryland;  from across the United States, including from California, Oregon, Illinois, Ohio, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Georgia and Florida; and from around the world, including Brazil, Canada, the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates.

During the chat that ran alongside the YouTube livestream of the Mass, a representative of the Archdiocese of Washington noted, “We are blessed to bring everyone together in spirit today to celebrate the joy of Easter.”

Archbishop Gregory, who was named as the new archbishop of Washington by Pope Francis one year ago in April 2019, was celebrating his first Easter that weekend as archbishop of Washington, first with an Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday at the cathedral, and then with Easter Sunday Masses at St. Matthew’s Cathedral and then at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Due to the government mandated limitations on the size of public gatherings and the necessity of social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the more than 1,100 people across the Archdiocese of Washington who had been preparing to receive the Sacraments of Initiation and become full members of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil will receive them at a later date after public Masses resume, perhaps on Pentecost on May 31. The elect will eventually receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Communion, and the candidates for entry into the Church who have already been baptized will receive the sacraments of Confirmation and Communion.

Archbishop Gregory gives his homily at the Easter Sunday Mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

The archbishop said that those who will eventually receive the Sacraments of Initiation in the Archdiocese of Washington will be a reminder of God’s new creation, a transformation that the faithful experience through water and the Holy Spirit at Baptism, a reminder that everything is made new in the light of Christ’s resurrection.

In his homily, Archbishop Gregory made reference to the coronavirus crisis, saying, “This year we may all feel like time has a lock on us, as we restrict our movement to a confined space while we await the conquest of COVID-19.”

On a weekend when the United States surpassed Italy as the country with the most confirmed coronavirus deaths with more than 20,000 people having died from the disease, a prayer was offered at the cathedral's Easter Sunday Mass “that all those suffering from the coronavirus and all who care for them may receive strength from the risen Christ.”

After his homily, Archbishop Gregory led those in the cathedral and those viewing the Mass on livestream in renewing their baptismal promises. 

Archbishop Gregory celebrates an Easter Sunday Mass on April 12 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception after celebrating at an Easter Mass earlier that day at St. Matthew's Cathedral. At left is Msgr. Walter Rossi, the basilica's rector. (Archdiocese of Washington photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann)

On Easter Sunday, a special Easter message from Archbishop Gregory was posted on the Archdiocese of Washington’s website, in which he said, “Jesus is risen. Truly He is risen! Across the Archdiocese of Washington, in each of our homes, the light of the Risen Christ shines bright. While I wish I could be with you in person, I know that physical distance cannot separate us spiritually from one another. We remain united in faith as an Easter people as we pray for each other and all the sick and dying across the world during this pandemic. Together, we hold fast to Christ’s promise of ‘the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting’ that we celebrate this Easter season. Alleluia!”

Archbishop Gregory also issued a special Easter column for the Catholic Standard that was posted on its website, and he tweeted an Easter message that said, “Today on my first Easter as your Archbishop, I’d like to extend to all of our faithful, clergy and religious a sincere and heartfelt happy Easter. May it increase our love for the Risen Lord, for our faith, and for one another.”

Archbishop Gregory preaches his homily at the April 12 Easter Sunday Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Archbishop Gregory marked his first Easter as the archbishop of Washington with Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses at St. Matthew's Cathedral and his Easter Mass at the National Shrine. (Archdiocese of Washington photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann)

Later on Easter Sunday April 12, Archbishop Gregory was the main celebrant and homilist at a noon Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. That Mass was also closed to the public, but it was livestreamed by the basilica at www.nationalshrine.org/mass, and it was broadcast live by EWTN, the Eternal Word Television Network, and by the Catholic Channel on Sirius XM radio.

Founded in 1939, the Archdiocese of Washington is home to more than 655,000 Catholics who worship in 139 parishes located  in Washington, D.C., and the five surrounding Maryland counties of Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s. Nearly 27,000 students attend the 93 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington. Catholic Charities of the archdiocese is the largest non-public social service organization in the region, serving nearly 143,000 people each year.