We began that liturgy with a cute moment, but it also gave me a personal reflection for that evening. Yes, I have done this before, but it still feels new every year. The celebration of Easter is far and away the highlight of our year, and I always find it a time of such overpowering joy that it truly comes across as something new and newsworthy. The season of Lent, which we concluded this week, helped us make this Easter feel as something new and fresh. Throughout Lent our sanctuary was devoid of flowers, and we have not sung a joyous “Alleluia” since February. Outside of the Liturgy, our Lenten fast has given us a time of penance. Now is the time to rejoice; our time of penance is finished. Lent has done its job, for it has prepared us for greatest of all feasts in the Church’s year. What we celebrate today is the greatest event in the history of the entire world, and we now share the hope of eternal life as a result.
I have done this before, but there are those for whom the celebration is truly something new. The members of our RCIA have been preparing for some months now to enter into the Church. This weekend we welcome Tammie Colucci and Greg Moore into our Catholic family. We continue to pray for them, as well as for Tim and Mary Ann Kuruce, who are also part of the RCIA and who hope to complete their initiation soon.
Today, of course, is just the beginning of our celebration. If Easter is the most important time in the Church’s year, then it is fitting that it last longer than any other time. So while we had forty days of Lent, we begin now a celebration of fifty days of rejoicing over Christ’s resurrection and our baptismal share in that new life. Beyond that, we celebrate this next week as an “Octave,” an eight day continuation of the joy of this day. Each day during this next week is Easter Sunday. In fact, when I was in the seminary, one of our Scripture professors claimed that since each day that week was Sunday, that we should have the entire week off. We all agreed with him, but he then added that he did not have the authority to translate that ideal into reality. (I suspect that our school students would also agree to the idea of getting this whole week off. Unfortunately, I have to agree with Fr. Gray that I am not in a position to make the ideal into a reality.)
So rejoice, for the Lord is risen! And I pray that our entire parish family has a blessed and joyful celebration of Easter.