Thursday, April 1, 2010


"Are You Looking Forward to Easter?"

So asked someone. Obviously they were. A seemingly innocuous question, yet it exercised me. Were they looking forward to chocolate, family, a few days off from school, or special masses - or all four, and was I?

Now, I suppose any of the four are possible to any one person. You'd like to think the order began with mass then family, or family then mass... but that wouldn't be the case for everyone, obviously.

I am interested in the whole "Easter" part. What is it that a religious person looks forward to when he looks forward to Easter?

Theologically. Isn't mass mass - no matter when it occurs? Or is it conceived as a time of special graces? Graces for whom - self, other, world? But, of course, every mass is the whole Paschal Mystery present and alive, as if on Calvary. It is all graces now and always. We might speak of the differential actualization of these ever-present graces, and they would be concentrated at certain times and places, by the never-changing God.

Psychologically. Nostalgia, or true apprehension of the above? The factor of nostalgia would be more present at Christmas. Society at large doesn't generally care for Easter as it does for Christmas - probably at root caused by Protestants who don't seem to have the same appreciation for continuing fact of the Paschal Mystery, and who are more apt to reduce it to an accomplished historical fact, enduring only as an individualized, totally-internalized spiritual matter. But for Catholics, the sacramental reminder that it is an enduring event, not only relived daily in the Holy Sacrifice of the mass, and, indeed, in every other sacred event - baptism and confession, especially, but in prayer, the rosary, fasting, self-denial, etc., as well, makes Easter a particular evident and lively focal point in our consciousness. We cannot and will not cut off the Death from the Resurrection. That the Paschal Mystery is a sacred event marked by fast and feast is a part of the sacred psychology of the thing, which is to say that the anthropological factor is not superfluous, but something ennobled by the facts of creation and the Incarnation.

So this is why I look forward to it. When I have a moment's grace to think beyond my children and their need of candy (and my need of candy).

This is and will always be one of my very favourite works of art. By Holbein, "Christ in the Tomb"

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