Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Easter Sunday—24 April A.D. 2011

“This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us be glad and rejoice therein.”[1]

[Ordinary of the Mass]
[ Mass Text-Latin]
[Mass Text-English]

    Happy Easter to everyone, and special thanks to all of you who helped in any way to make our celebration of Holy Week and Easter possible.

    Last Sunday one of you asked me about the relative importance of the days of Holy Week and Easter, and during the past few days I had a chance to consider a more detailed answer than I gave last week.

    From the liturgical point of view, Easter is the most important feast on the calendar.  All of the seasonal feasts of the year take their place in the calendar relative to Easter—there will be fewer or more Sundays after Epiphany and Pentecost depending upon whether comes earlier or later in the year.  Ascension Thursday will be forty days after Easter, and Pentecost will be seven weeks after Easter.

    The great doctor of the Church, Saint Gregory Nazianzen tells us:  “This is the Feast of feasts, the Festival of festivals;  as far above all the rest as the sun above the stars; not alone those related to the earth and to men, but even to those of Christ Himself, and celebrated in His honor.”[2]  By His rising from the dead, Christ has conquered sin and death.  “The hope of a blessed resurrection hath shone upon us, that those afflicted by the certainty of dying, may be consoled by the promise of a future immortality.”[3]

    But we would be wrong to accept the “paschal mystery theology” of the Modernists who choose to view the Resurrection in isolation from the key events we have just celebrated in Holy Week, the Last Supper and the Crucifixion.  Considering the risen Christ without considering the Cross is always a mistake. 

    A year before the Last Supper, our Lord promised that He would give us His flesh and blood to eat and drink: “If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world….  Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.” [4]  At the Last Supper He made good on that promise:  “Take ye and eat.  This is my body….. this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.”[5]  Clearly, the resurrection we expect because of our Lord’s resurrection depends on this promise of eternal life, and that eternal life depends on the Blessed Sacrament and the Mass that was instituted on Holy Thursday.

    And the Mass, of course, is dependant on the Sacrifice of the Cross of Good Friday.  The sacrificial giving over of Christ’s body and the shedding of His blood takes place for us in time and place as the priest does what Christ did at the Last Supper.  It is also because the priest is ordained to offer this Sacrifice that he is able to forgive sins, about which we will hear in next Sunday’s Gospel, but which took place on Easter Sunday night.[6]

    So, we see that it is necessary to hold the Last Supper, the Sacrifice of the Cross, and the Resurrection of our Lord in equal importance.  Perhaps we could consider them as being like the legs of a three legged stool, each being necessary for the same useful function.

    As well, we should consider the importance of two other events that followed upon the Resurrection:  the Ascension and Pentecost.  Saint Mark tells us that immediately after giving orders that the Apostles preach the Gospel to the whole world He was taken up into heaven.[7]  They were to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”[8]  “Those who believed and were baptized would be saved;  those who do not believe will be condemned.”[9]  At his juncture our Lord promised that He would be with His Church “all days, even to the consummation of the world.”[10]

    How, we might ask, could He be with them if He was taken up into heaven?  Well, there was His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament—but there is another event that we must consider in connection with Easter, the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost descended upon the assembly of the Church in the Upper Room, for from that day on, the Holy Ghost would dwell in the souls of all those in the state of grace—from that day on, the Holy Ghost would strengthen all who had received Him specially in the Sacrament of Confirmation.  We see that on that day, the Holy Ghost had such an effect on the Apostles that they went out and preached the Gospel and “they therefore that received his word were baptized: and there were added in that day about three thousand souls.”[11]

    In our conversation last Sunday, I was asked how Christmas fit into this scheme of things.  My answer was that while Christmas is of obvious importance—one cannot have salvation without the Savior—we have to go back nine months to the day on which our Lady consented to become the Mother of God, and was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost to conceive the Christ Child in her womb.[12]  It was on that day that God became incarnate, and became one of us for the purpose of our salvation.

    Finally, there is one more feast to consider, the Immaculate Conception, on which we celebrate the fact that God knew from all eternity that he would raise up a perfectly sinless daughter of Adam, who would be at enmities with the devil, and whose seed would crush his head.[13]  The new Eve, the blessed Virgin Mary, would raise up the new Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Thus we see that Easter, the most important day in the Church’s year, is dependent upon, and must be associated with the various feasts of our Lord and Lady throughout the year

“This is the day which the Lord hath made:
let us be glad and rejoice therein.”

    Now, if we consider our own lives, and pick the most important day for us, we should realize that “today’ is our most important day.  I say “today” not because today happens to be Easter, but because “today” follows “yesterday” and comes before “tomorrow.”  “Today” is our most important day, because we are living it right now, and we can make use of it to live according to God’s will.

    We may have done great things in the past, or we may have done things of which we are now ashamed—most of us find a combination of good and bad when we review all of our “yesterdays.”  There is generally little that can be done about the shame of the past, and very little good that comes from recounting the good deeds of the past.  “Today” is the only day over which we have any real control.

    Unless we are seriously ill, we all believe ourselves to have a number of “tomorrows.”  But even if we are young, we must be careful not to rely to heavily on or own plans.  Saint James cautions us about presuming upon the future:

    Behold, now you that say: To-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and there we will spend a year and will traffic and make our gain.   Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow.  For … life … is a vapour which appeareth for a little while and afterwards shall vanish away. For that you should say: If the Lord will, and, If we shall live, we will do this or that.[14]

    Certainly, one must plan and provide for the future.  But one cannot live in the future.  And if you don’t plan to do God’s will until sometime in the future, it is just possible that you will never get to do it.  Again, “today” is the only day over which we have any real control.

    “Today” is our holy day.  Each morning that we are privileged to get out of bed we must resolve to make the best possible use of “today” for doing God’s will.

“This is the day which the Lord hath made:
let us be glad and rejoice therein.”


[1]   Psalm cxvii: 24

[2]   Saint Gregory Nazianzen, On the Holy Pasch II   PG 36 col. 623, Oratio 24.

[4]   John vi: 52, 54.

[5]   Matthew  xxvi: 26, 28.

[6]   John xx:  19-31.

[7]   Mark xvi: 14-20

[8]   Matthew  xxviii: 19

[9]   Mark ibid.

[10]   Matthew ibid. 20.

[11]   Acts ii: 41.

[12]   Luke i: 26-38

[13]   Genesis iii: 15

[14]   James iv: 13-15.



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