aPRIL 21 Easter Sunday
1 Samuel, Chapter 12, Verse 14
If you fear and serve the LORD, if you listen to the voice of the LORD and do not rebel against the LORD’s command, if both you and the king, who rules over you, follow the LORD your God—well and good.
These were the word of the Priest Samuel at the coronation of King Saul and just like Eli Saul and his family did not listen to the voice of the Lord and rebelled. Our only king was crowned not with gold but with thorns. It was His afflictions which prepared us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure. Hear His voice.
“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials—Chinese proverb.”
WHAT is the feast of Easter? The celebration of the day on which Jesus Christ, according to the predictions both of Himself and the prophets, by His almighty power, reunited His body and soul, and arose alive from the grave.
Why is Easter Sunday sometimes called Pasch or Passover? It is from the Latin Pascha, and the Hebrew Phase, meaning “the passing over” because the destroyer of the firstborn in Egypt passed over the houses of the Israelites who had sprinkled the transom and posts of the door with the blood of the paschal lamb and because the Jews were in that same night delivered from bondage, passing over through the Red Sea into the land of promise. Now we Christians are by the death and resurrection of Christ redeemed and passed over to the freedom of the children of God, so we call the day of His resurrection Pasch or Passover.
How should we observe the feast of Easter? We observe the feast in such manner as to confirm our faith in Jesus Christ and in His Church, and to pass over from the death of sin to the new life of grace.
What is the meaning of Alleluia, so often repeated at Easter-time? “Alleluia” means “Praise God.” In the Introit of the Mass of the day the Church introduces Jesus Christ as risen, addressing His heavenly Father as follows “I rose up and am still with Thee, alleluia; Thou hast laid Thy hand upon Me, alleluia. Lord, Thou hast proved me, and know me; Thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up.”
Prayer. O God, Who this day didst open to us the approach to eternity by Thy only Son victorious over death, prosper by Thy grace our vows, which Thou dost anticipate by Thy inspirations.
EPISTLE, i. Cor. v. 7, 8.
Brethren: Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened. For Christ, our Pasch, is sacrificed. Therefore, let us feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Explanation. The Apostle selected the leaven as a type of the moral depravity from which the Christian community and every individual Christian should be free. Let us, therefore, purge out the old leaven of sin by true penance, that we may receive our Paschal Lamb, Jesus, in the Most Holy Eucharist with a pure heart.
GOSPEL. Mark xvi. 1-7.
At that time: Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought sweet spices, that coming they might anoint Jesus. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen. And they said one to another: Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
And looking, they saw the stone rolled back: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed with a white robe: and they were astonished. Who saith to them: Be not affrighted: you seek Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified: He is risen, He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there you shall see Him, as He told you.
Why did the holy women desire to anoint the body of Jesus with sweet spices? The women wanted to anoint Jesus’ body out of love for him. This love God rewarded by sending to them an angel, who rolled back the great stone from before the mouth of the sepulcher, comforted them, and convinced them that Christ was really raised from the dead. From this we learn that God always consoles those who seek Him. The angel sent the holy women to the disciples to console them for Christ’s death, and in order that they might make known His resurrection to the world. St. Peter was specially named not only because he was the head of the apostles, but because he was sadder and more dispirited than the others on account of his denial of Our Savior.
How did Our Savior prove that He was really risen from the dead? Our Lord proved Himself risen by showing Himself first to the holy women, then to His disciples, and finally to five hundred persons at once. His disciples not only saw Him, but ate and drank with Him, not once only, but repeatedly, and for forty days.
It was through combat and inexpressible sufferings that Our Savior gained victory. So also with us we gain heaven only by labor, combat, and sufferings shall we win the crown of eternal life; though redeemed by Christ from the servitude of Satan and sin, we shall not be able to enter the kingdom of Christ unless, after His example and by His grace, we fight till the end against the flesh, the devil, and the world; for only he that perseveres to the end shall receive the crown (n. Tim. ii. 5).
Read: Easter does not just last for a day! Take time to read about the span of the Easter season today.
Reflect: Take extra time with the readings today practicing lectio divina. . . .
Pray: O God, who on this day, through your Only Begotten Son, have conquered death and unlocked for us the path to eternity, grant, we pray, that we who keep the solemnity of the Lord's Resurrection
may, through the renewal brought by your Spirit, rise up in the light of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Collect, Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord, Mass During the Day, Roman Missal, Third Edition, International Commission on English Liturgy)
Act: Christ is Risen! Spread the Good News!
This is the day the Lord hath made;
let us be glad and rejoice therein. - Ps. 117.24
let us be glad and rejoice therein. - Ps. 117.24
With this antiphon, the Church proclaims Easter Sunday the greatest day of the year. For the Christian believer every day is, of course, a celebration of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead, as is every Mass. Yet daily rejoicing pales in comparison to that of the Sunday Mass, since Sunday is the day that the resurrection took place, the "eighth" day of the week signifying a new creation and a new life. And these Sundays of the year, in turn, are dwarfed by Easter, the Feast of Feasts celebrated in the newness of the vernal moon and in the rebirth of springtime. Easter is the Christian day par excellence.
The commemoration of our Lord's physical resurrection from the dead provides not only the crucial resolution to the Passion story, but to several liturgical themes stretching back over the past two months. Easter ends the seventy days of Babylonian exile begun on Septuagesima Sunday by restoring the Temple that was destroyed on Good Friday, i.e. the body of Jesus Christ. It ends the forty days of wandering in the desert begun on Ash Wednesday by giving us the Promised Land of eternal life. It ends the fourteen days of concealment and confusion during Passiontide by revealing the divinity of Jesus Christ and the meaning of His cryptic prophecies. It ends the seven days of Holy Week by converting our sorrow over the crucifixion into our jubilance about the resurrection. And it ends the three days of awesome mystery explored during the sacred Triduum by celebrating the central mystery of our faith: life born from death, ultimate good from unspeakable evil. It is for this reason that all the things that had been instituted at one point or another during the past penitential seasons (the purple vestments or the veiled images) are dramatically removed, while all the things that had been successively suppressed (the Alleluia, the Gloria in excelsis, several Gloria Patri's, or the bells) are dramatically restored.
The Easter season (or Paschaltide, as it is traditionally known) is not an undifferentiated block of joy but one that consists of several distinct stages. The first is the Easter Octave, lasting from Easter Sunday to "Low" Sunday. These eight days comprise a prolonged rejoicing in our Savior's victory over death and in the eternal life given to the newly baptized converts. In fact, Christian initiates used to receive a white robe upon their baptism on Holy Saturday night and would wear it for the rest of the week. They would take off these symbols of their new life on the following Sunday, which in Latin is called Dominica in albis depositis as a result of this practice. (The English name, Low Sunday, was used as a contrast to the high mark of Easter). For centuries the first Sunday after Easter was also the day when children would receive their first Holy Communion, often with their father and mother kneeling beside them. So meaningful was this event that in Europe it was referred to as the "most beautiful day of life." (Significantly, both customs are encapsulated in Low Sunday's stational church, the basilica of St. Pancras (see Station Days): St. Pancras, a twelve-year-old martyr, is the patron saint of children and neophytes).
The Easter Kiss and Greeting. The day that the risen Christ appeared to His apostles, breathed the Spirit on them, and wished them peace is the day that Christians greet each other with special fraternal affection. Early Latin Christians embraced each other on Easter with the greeting, Surrexit Dominus vere ("The Lord is truly risen"). The appropriate response is Deo gratias ("Thanks be to God"). Greek Christians, on the other hand, say, Christos aneste ("Christ is risen"), to which is answered, Alethos aneste ("Truly He is risen"). The mutual kiss and embrace last throughout the Easter Octave.
Blessings. There was a time in both the Eastern and Western churches that no one would dream of eating unblessed food on Easter. Priests would either visit families on Holy Saturday night and bless the spread made ready for the following day, or they would bless the food brought to church after the Easter Sunday Mass. The old Roman ritual attests to this tradition by its title for Food Blessings: Benedictiones Esculentorum, Praesertim in Pascha - "The Blessings of Edibles, Especially for Easter".
New Clothes & the Easter Parade. Most people are familiar with the old-fashioned images of ladies bedecked in crisp new bonnets and dapper escorts during the annual Easter parade. What at first blush appears to be no more than a spectacle of vanity, however, is a combination of two deeply religious practices. The first is the custom of wearing new clothes for Easter. This stems from the ancient practice of newly baptized Christians wearing a white garment from the moment of their baptism during the Easter Vigil until the following week. The rest of the faithful eventually followed suit by wearing something new to symbolize the new life brought by the death and resurrection of Christ. Hence an old Irish saying: "For Christmas, food and drink; for Easter, new clothes." There was even a superstition that bad luck would come to those who could afford new clothes for Easter but did not buy them. The second practice is the Easter walk, in which the faithful (mostly couples) would march through town and country as a part of a religious procession. A crucifix or the Paschal candle would often lead the way, and the entourage would make several stops in order to pray or sing hymns. The rest of the time would be spent in light banter. This custom became secularized after the Reformation and thus became the "Easter parade" so popular before the 1960s.
Easter Eggs. Two kinds of activities (besides eating) surround this famous feature of Paschal celebration. The first is the decoration of the egg, a custom that goes back to the first centuries of Christianity. Colored dyes are the easiest way this is done, though different customs from various cultures sometimes determine which colors are used. The Chaldean, Syrian, and Greek Christians, for example, give each other scarlet eggs in honor of the most precious blood of Christ. Other nations, such as the Ukrainians and Russians, are famous for their beautiful and ornate egg decorations. Egg games are also a familiar part of Easter merriment. Most Americans are familiar with the custom of Easter egg hunts, but there are other forms as well. Egg-pecking is a game popular in Europe and the Middle East (not to mention the White House lawn), where hard-boiled eggs are rolled against each other on the lawn or down a hill; the egg left uncracked at the end is proclaimed the "victory egg."
The Dancing Sun. There is an old legend that the sun dances for joy or makes three cheerful jumps on Easter morning. In England and Ireland families would place a pan of water in the east window to watch the dancing rays mirrored on it. Other "sun" customs involve some kind of public gathering at sunrise. Greeting the daybreak with cannons, gunfire, choirs, or band music was once very popular, as was holding a prayer service, followed by a procession to the church where Mass would be offered.
"Sacred" Theater. According to some scholars the beautiful sequence Victimae Paschali Laudes sung during the Easter Mass in the traditional Roman rite is the inspiration for the development of medieval religious drama. The poem's dialogic structure, with its question and answer format, became the foundation on which more lines were added until a separate play was formed. This play, in turn, inspired the composition of the other medieval "mystery" plays held on Christmas, Epiphany, Corpus Christi, and so on. Solemn vespers and benediction were a traditional part of every Sunday afternoon in many parishes, but especially so on Easter. Perhaps one reason for this was the medieval custom of Easter fables where, prior to the service, the priest would regale the congregation with amusing anecdotes and whimsical yarns. This served as a sort of antidote to the many sad or stern Lenten sermons of the previous weeks.
The Easter Octave. The entire Octave of Easter constitutes an extended exultation in Christ's victory over death. Obviously, the two most important days of this Octave are the two Sundays. As mentioned elsewhere, Low Sunday was once the day that the neophytes took off their white robes and resumed their lives in the daily world, and it was also the traditional time for children to receive Holy Communion. Other days of the Octave, however, also had distinctive customs of their own.
· Easter Monday was reserved as a special day for rest and relaxation. Its most distinctive feature is the Emmaus walk, a leisurely constitution inspired by the Gospel of the day (Luke 24.13-35). This can take the form of a stroll through field or forest or, as in French Canada, a visit to one's grandparents.
· Games of mischief dating to pre-Christian times also take place on Easter Monday and Tuesday. Chief among them are drenching customs, where boys surprise girls with buckets of water, and vice versa, or switching customs, where switches are gently used on each other.
· Easter Thursday in Slavic countries, on the other hand, was reserved for remembering departed loved ones. Mass that day would be offered for the deceased of the parish.
· Finally, Easter Friday was a favorite day for pilgrimages in many parts of Europe. Large groups would take rather long processions to a shrine or church, where Mass would be offered.
Divine Mercy Novena
Third Day - Today Bring Me All Devout and Faithful Souls.
Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in the great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.
Eternal Father, turn Your Merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus, may they never fail in love or lost the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.
· Manhood of Christ Day 5, Seventh Week.
 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.