April 1, 2013
With the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord celebrated earlier this year, we have an opportunity in this month of April to live the Easter season in relative calm. Graduations are still a bit off in the future; civil holidays like Memorial Day are not for another month; and school and work continue as usual.
Let’s look at this liturgical season more closely. Beginning with Easter Sunday and continuing through the following Sunday, we celebrate the Octave of Easter. In these first eight days, we relive literally the day of the Lord’s resurrection. The Gospel for each of these eight days is an account from one of the four Gospels of that great and glorious day. This is at the heart of our faith and the preaching of the Gospel by the Apostles. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead not only brings about our salvation but is the prefiguring of our own bodily resurrection on the last day.
As joyous as these first eight days are for every Catholic, we are never far from the remembrance of how we have been saved by the Son of God. It is by His saving passion, death and resurrection that we have salvation. The two Easter symbols which remain before us for our thanksgiving and meditation are the cross and the empty tomb. Again, both help us not forget what He has done for us and both stand as constant reminders that we belong to Him and must carry our cross daily and follow him in this life and through death to heaven.
After the Easter Octave, we celebrate several more weeks of the Easter season and the Mass prayers and readings from sacred Scripture draw our attention to the profound and life-changing effect the resurrection of the Lord had on His Apostles, disciples and all who heard the Good News and converted to Christ. Literally, they were different people!
We have an almost continuous reading at Mass from the Acts of the Apostles and this is not just very good, accurate and interesting Church history. It is a living witness for us as to the how and why of turning our own lives over to Christ Jesus. I recommend that we read this book of the New Testament from beginning to end and compare our faith and how we live it with the faith and lives of our ancestors in the Church.
The second great message of Easter and the Easter season is that if “we die with Christ we shall also live with Christ” as St. Paul proclaims this beautiful truth. It is the dying with Christ in order to live with Him now as our preparation for life in heaven that can be a problem. Our faith does not promise us anything but a life just like His, with its joys and satisfactions, and its sufferings and sorrows. If we celebrate Easter as we should every day, then we are living our faith as it is meant to be lived – as the God-given means to save our souls.