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The Catholic Defender: Roll Away The Stone

One of my favorite Easter songs of all time was written by Tom Conry, a noted Catholic artist and writer.

I had served as a Eucharistic Minister in the absence of a Catholic Priest for my Military Units for many years. For me, this was always a great blessing.

I would be able to conduct a Catholic lay service and provide consecrated hosts for the Catholic population.

I remember one Easter, while deployed to JRTC, a 30 day rotation to Fort Polk Louisiana, the Chaplain’s Assistant and I worked on putting this song (Roll Away The Stone) together for our Easter time service.

This was a great joy as the Chaplain’s Assistant was a Protestant who came to love this song. Music can tame the most savage beast (lol). We had a great time and the Soldiers really liked what we did.

During this time we worked on making the shell of a lay Catholic Liturgy of the word service into a nice presentation with music.

I have been asked why I don’t seek the Deaconate, I am interested but this must be a calling of the Lord and he would have to open the door. To this point, I just have not been given such a call.

I am very surprised that this song is not that well known, not even among Catholic Choir directors and planners? Here are the lyrics to the song:

Roll Away The Stone

They have been saying all our plans are empty.

They have been saying “Where is their God now?”

Roll away the stone see the Glory of God.

Roll away the stone.

They have been saying no one will remember.

They have been saying Power rules the world.

Roll away the stone see the Glory of God.

Roll away the stone.

They have been saying no one hears the singing.

They have been saying all our strength is gone.

Roll away the stone see the Glory of God.

Roll away the stone.

They have been saying “All of us are dying.”

They have been saying “All of us are dead.”

Roll away the stone see the Glory of God.

Roll away the stone.

Jesus has won the battle as he did rise from the dead on the third day. When I was young, my Mother sent me to a Catholic grade school (St. John La Lande) in Blue Springs Missouri, this would be one of the great sacrifices my Mother did for me. The Sisters taught us music and one of my favorite Easter songs ( The strife is o’er, the battle done) has always stuck with me:

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! The strife is o’er, the battle done, the victory of life is won; the song of triumph has begun. Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! The powers of death have done their worst, but Christ their legions hath dispersed: let shout of holy joy outburst. Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! The three sad days are quickly sped, he rises glorious from the dead: all glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! He closed the yawning gates of hell, the bars from heaven’s high portals fell; let hymns of praise his triumphs tell! Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! Lord! by the stripes which wounded thee, from death’s dread sting thy servants free, that we may live and sing to thee. Alleluia

We are the Easter People, we are the people of the Lamb who was slain and rose from the dead. The challenge today is helping people to “roll away the stone” from their hearts so they can see the glory of God.

The Lord told Jeremiah, “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). The Lord calls us to full participation through prayer, witness, example, and if necessary, words. Everything must be built upon with love.

The Lord God says through the Prophet Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts” (Ezekiel 36:26).

This is the mission of the Church, to set free the captives through the Lord’s Sacraments. There are many people out there who are crippled and disfigured due to sin, due to injustice, due to what has happened to them. Some of them are part of our own family.

The sword of truth can pierce the hearts of stone, but love must be our foundation. Love for the Lord and his people.

Easter Vigil is always my favorite time of the year.

Each year millions around the world are being received into the Catholic Faith. In the United States we will have something between 150,000 to 180,000 Catechumens and Candidates each year, but there will be literally millions coming from all over the world.

Africa has seen a large growth to the Catholic Faith, in fact, the United States has been benefiting from African priests coming to serve in ministry.

Africa is literally sending missionaries to the United States. That is an amazing thing that is happening. Even in the United States Military, I am seeing a good number of African priests.

The Easter Vigil is such a great Service because of the honor given to Christ in anticipation to the Easter Resurrection. “It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of His power working within me.” (Colossians 1:28-29)

I believe that the Lord can change the conditions of a persons heart. What do you do if you have a loved one who is living in the bondage of sin? Sometimes it can seem hopeless, remember, we are to “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Remember St. Monica? She prayed for her family for 30 years, we are not to lose heart, God is in control. In war, I was able to help soothe the grieving of Mothers for their sons death simply by sharing the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. It gave great consolation.

We can pray for our loved ones who have built crust around their hearts of stone. The Lord can set them free, create in me a clean heart oh God, that I too can “roll away the stone”.

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