April 13, 2017
(APRIL 13, 2017)
EASTER and EASTER SEASON
- Here we are, moving into Easter and Easter Season, the highpoint of our liturgical year and the highlight of our lives as followers of Christ. Let us live out these graces of graces and God’s most intensive Love for us!
- We begin with the basic concepts involved in Easter and Easter Season for a basic understanding of this Great Time.
- “[The Easter cycle] is the most important part of the Church’s Year. The periods of preparation, celebration and continuation last thirteen weeks, fully a quarter of the year.
- Preparation: The days of Lent lead us to recall and renew our baptismal promises; it is also the time catechumens (the elect) make their final preparations for initiation at the Easter Vigil. By our prayer, by almsgiving, works of mercy, fasting, other forms of penance, and by reading the Scriptures, we open our hearts and lives to the Spirit, so that we may be purified and brought back to the way of the Lord.
- Celebration: The centre of the Easter Cycle is the Easter Triduum: Holy Thursday evening and Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday (from the Easter Vigil through Evening Prayer II). During these Days, the Church celebrates the dying and rising and glorification of Jesus the Lord.
- Continuation: The Easter Season, known in the early Church as ‘the Great Sunday’ or ‘the Fifty Days’ continues the Church’s celebration of the Lord’s Paschal Mystery: Jesus’ suffering, death, resurrection, ascension and sending of the Spirit are celebrated as one continuous event in God’s plan of salvation. Pentecost concludes the Easter Season and cycle; Ordinary Time resumes until the following Advent.” (Ordo: Liturgical Calendar 2016-2017)
- “The Easter season is, except for Ordinary Time, the longest liturgical season and, more importantly, it is different from the rest. Advent has a dual focus: the solemnities at Christmas and Christ’s second coming at the end of time. Lent is a preparation for the yearly celebration of Easter. Ordinary Time forms an integrated whole; moreover, it runs from the Baptism of the Lord till Ash Wednesday, and from the Monday after Pentecost till the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent. The Easter Season, on the other hand, is not a preparation for a solemnity but a prolongation of that just celebrated.
“The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated in joyful exultation as one feast day, or better as one ‘great Sunday.’ These above all others are the days for the singing of the Alleluia. The Sundays of this season rank as the Paschal Sundays and, after Easter Sunday itself, are called the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Sundays of Easter. The period of fifty sacred days ends on Pentecost Sunday. The first eight days of the Easter Season make up the octave of Easter and are celebrated as solemnities of the Lord …
- “Easter Sunday is both ‘the first day of the week’ and the eighth day after Saturday. The solemnity celebrated ‘on the first day’ extends throughout Easter Week [the only time in the liturgical calendar each day of the week is regarded as a solemnity] is here as well as the following Sundays: in the Roman Missal Revised by Decree of the Second Vatican Council and promulgated by Paul VI, these Sundays are called Sundays of Easter, not after Easter. This apparently slight difference is very meaningful. Each of these successive Sundays is a celebration of the solemnity of Easter: this is the underlying unity of the Easter season. Each day of this season is said to be celebrated ‘as one feast day, or better as one “great Sunday.”’ (One must realize that this is not to be understood literally.) …
- “Nevertheless, what the General Norms for the Liturgical Year are must be taken seriously, for it is an opportune reminder of the way one must live the Sundays of Easter and also those of Ordinary Time. The seven Sundays of Easter very clearly celebrate the paschal mystery under one or another of its aspects, as found in the biblical readings: if this is understood, how could one not become more fully aware of the fact that every ‘ordinary’ Sunday is the weekly celebration of the Passover [and Pascha].” (Days of the Lord: The Liturgical Year – Volume 3 – Easter Triduum Easter Season).
- “The seven weeks from Easter to Pentecost are celebrated as one great Feast Day. Saint Athanasius called them ‘the great Sunday.’ Christians sing the ‘Alleluia’ during these days in their rejoicing.” (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 1969)
- Below you will find some reflections, of varying lengths, to help you and me meditate upon Easter and Easter Season. May the Risen One make your and my reflection, praying, and meditation fruitful and life-changing. Amen!
- “The Lord’s resurrection is the supreme blessing for all believers. Every man and woman – each according to grace, charism and ministry – must announce it to the whole world.
“At the dawn of the new day, who seeks you?
Empty is the tomb where Jesus lay!
Run to the land of the living:
you will see him as he promised!
The beloved Son has risen in glory!
Proclaim it to the whole world!
Christ is living, alleluia!
We live again in his joy!
My heart and my flesh cry for you, alleluia!
You have turned my sorrow to laughter.
I come to you with festive songs, alleluia!
You have opened for me the road of life.
Freed, I am born again in your light, alleluia!
Your love is stronger than death.
You are my Lord and my God, alleluia!
You lead me to the wellsprings of peace.” (Days of the Lord)
O Risen Lord,
The way, the truth and the life,
make us faithful followers
of the spirit of your resurrection.
Grant that we may be inwardly
renewed, dying to ourselves
in order that you may live in us.
May our lives serve as signs
of the transforming power of your
love. Use us as your instruments
for the renewal of society,
to bring your life and love to all
and leading them to your Church.
This we ask of you, Lord Jesus,
living and reigning with the Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
The above is the Resurrection Prayer used in my religious community, the Congregation of the Resurrection. When we share this prayer with people, they do like it and so I share it with you as a special Easter Prayer. Use it as you see fit. Thank you.
- The following prayer is a very beautiful and powerful prayer in a meditation form by Sister Joyce Rupp, O.S.M. Sister is a Servite (Servant of May) who is a famous religious author, a spiritual “midwife,” an international retreat leader, and conference speaker.
The meditation is based upon Ezekiel 37, the well-known passage on “the bones.” This passage powerfully points to dead bones becoming alive by God’s breath upon them. What an impactful way of pointing to resurrection/Resurrection! What was dead is now vibrantly alive because of God’s breath of life, love and mercy. Apply it to your own life this Easter.
Thus says God to these bones:
“I will cause breath to enter you,
and you shall live.”
Ezekiel 37:5 (NRSV)
There I am
in Ezekiel’s valley,
one heap among many,
just another stack
of old, dry bones.
feel this way,
and Tuesdays, too,
to say nothing of
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
and forgotten pleasures,
sold like a soul
to a gluttonous world
feeding on my frenzy
and anxious activity.
But just when
the old heap of bones
seems most dry
a strong Breath of Life
stirs among my dead.
Someone named God
comes to my fragments
and asks, with twinkling eye:
“May I have this dance?”
The Voice stretches into me,
a stirring leaps in my heart,
lifting up the bones of death.
Then I offer my waiting self
to the One who’s never stopped
believing in me,
And the dance begins. Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.
- “Christ is risen! And you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is risen! And the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is risen! And the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen! And life is liberated!
Christ is risen! And the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen
To Him be Glory and Power, now and forever, and
from all ages to all ages.
Amen! (Saint John Chrysostom, Easter Sermon)
- “Today the sacred Passover is made manifest to us, the new and holy Passover, the mystic Passover, the Passover worthy of all honor, the Passover which is Christ the Redeemer, the spotless Passover, the mighty Passover, the Passover of the faithful, the Passover that opens unto us the gates of Paradise, the Passover that sanctifies all the faithful” (Byzantine Pentekostarion, Sticheron at Matins [in the Liturgy of the Hours], about 6th to 8th centuries).
- “Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
You sons and daughter of the King
Whom heavenly host in glory sing.
Today the grave has lost its sting.
(Anonymous: O fillii et filiae [translated by J. Neale] 12th century)
- Even the commercial greeting cards for Easter-time can give us much to think about this great season. Below are given two such cards (modified a little wee bit) that show this well:
- “Easter is a time
to slow down –
to breathe in
the beauty of creation [restored],
to gather in prayer
with family and friends,
for all His/Her gifts…
Hope you enjoy
the peace of the day,
the spirit [Spirit] of the season,
and the special miracle
that is Easter.”
(TODAY and Always by American greetings)
- “Easter is a beautiful season
to rejoice in the new life
God has given
May you be blessed
by the beauty of God’s love
(Dayspring Cards – Hallmark Cares)
Sometimes, as we continue to age, it is hard to get a sense of the newness, freshness, and extra-ordinary aspect of Easter because we have celebrated it so many times.It is imperative that we try to enkindle this sense of awe inside us as we approach Easter.Below let me try to give you an example of how to do this.
Below you will find a photograph from our local newspaper, Waterloo Region Record, March 30, 2017.It really caught my eye and made me think (and pray)!
Underneath this photograph was the following explanation.
A Malaysian tiger cub plays with resident nursery dog Blakely at the Cincinnati Zoo and botanical Gardens, Wednesday [March 29, 2017]. Three cubs were born on February 3  to first-time mother Cinta, who rejected her offspring prompting zookeepers to intervene. Blakely has taken over some of mom’s duties while the cubs are growing up.” (ibid.)
What am I seeing here? Just a short explanation in terms of background is needed here.In my theology of sin (original sin, ongoing sin, impact on humanity, and impact on the creation), I belong to the group of theologians who hold that sin (original and on-going) destroyed/destroys our relationship with God and each other but it also subjugates creation so that it is not what God fully wants it to be for us – creation, then, also has been damaged.It is in need of salvation as much as we humans do.And this is why I have always been impressed with the famous text of Isaiah that looks to the end-time when the lamb will lie down with the lion. Something which normally does not occur in nature now but which will fully happen as the Resurrection liberates nature from the ravages of sin! What a beautiful powerful image!This manifests to me the power and efficacy of Christ’s Resurrection in that not only all of humankind is redeemed but the creation itself is exalted again (re-exalted, if I may make up a word here) through the power and goodness and grace of Christ’s Resurrection.This photo points to that!
When I saw this photo, it immediately sent me to this Isaian imagery.Two natural “enemies” (dog and tiger) are so beautifully together in this situation – the orphaned tiger cub (about the same size as Blakely) is snuggled up to his (new) mother as a “puppy” would do.Note also that the cub gently holds Blakely’s snout between its front paws.Wow! The Resurrection of Christ does so much for the universe but we are not aware of the totality of Its grace, power, love-infused, and corrective power for all of creation to be restored to God.However, a beautiful image like this gives us powerful glimpses of it. Please enjoy the photograph as much as I did in its manifestation of one aspect of Christ’s Resurrection.Thank you.
Maybe this year one way we can celebrate our grace-full Easter Season is to undertake some actions of mercy (recall the Year of Mercy and the Culture of Mercy desired by our Holy Father) to express the central dynamic of the Resurrection, i.e. its movement from death and tragedy and hardship to life, joy, and fullness of existence.Below are a few you may want to think about and pray about; thank you!
Making a hefty donation to a food bank and even donating some time to working at one to help it out.
Donating some time to helping at a soup kitchen.
Giving food to the homeless.I saw a video clip of a little girl who gave some food to a homeless man that really moved me.She obviously was doing this with a parent (who was not visible on the video) but it was so beautiful a scene where she handed him a bag with food in it and she watched him eating.What a beautiful picture of where the Resurrection led us in Its redemption of our world.And what a beautiful way to teach little children about our Christian/baptismal call to look after each other.Seriously think of doing this with your small children and explaining to them what and why you are doing this (in terms of the Resurrection).This will be a memory the child will never forget.
Making a good donation to UNICEF to help with the care of children in the world who have no one to help them.When I see in the UNICEF clips, little children (aged 6-8) trying to take care of younger siblings because they have no parents, it breaks my heart.If you are moved in the same way, please consider making your donation to UNICEF for this work of the Spirit in our world.This truly is an Easter action.To do this go on the internet to www.unicef.ca and under “donate,” find where you would like your donation to go.
Making a good donation to CCODP (Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace) and directing your money to go to helping the Syrian people caught up in the hell that is going on there now.To do this, go to www.devp.org and under “donate” locate “Syria” so you can direct your donation to go to the Syrian situation.
At times, your parish may have collections for these kinds of worthy “Easter-action” collections; make a hefty donation here.
If you know anyone who is separated/divorced and not going to church, befriend the person and gently help him/her come back to Mass (and the parish).This will cost you some time because a lot of time will be needed if you are going to do this gently.Thank you.
Anything similar to the above that you may want to do.
Thank you very much for considering this and God bless you.
WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE UNITED STATES??
What IS Going On in the United States
President Trump, as you know, is working hard to control immigration to the United States so that any immigrants that are dubious (according to stated criteria) do not get into the United States; he also is concerned about immigrants who are “illegal” that are already in the United States.In respect to the latter, he wants these deported.These are all difficult questions.Is there any Catholic response to these kinds of situations?There is: the words of Pope Francis on these kinds of questions are found appended to this newsletter (see “Pope Francis: Stop using the word ‘illegal’ as a synonym for ‘immigrant’”).
TO BE CONTINUED
JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN. ALLELUIA!
HIS RESURRECTION IS TO BE OUR RESURRECTION. ALLELUIA!
PRAISE GOD AND THANK GOD. ALLELUIA!
Father Fred Scinto, C.R.,
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
(519-885-4370 or toll free 1-877-242-7935)