Sunday is Easter — What does that mean to you?
On that first Easter Christ rose from the dead To show us how to live, How to put others first, How to love and How to give
When I was an altar boy back so many years ago when mass was said in Latin, Easter was a mix of things to me.
It joyfully proclaimed - “those dreary and somewhat depressive 40 days of Lent are finally over.” (I realize the significance of Lent with its lead-up to the crucifixion of Christ - that dreadful act that is addressed on Good Friday and Easter Saturday-so please don’t write me saying I’ve lost my faith).
I am aware that without winter there can be no spring. But one must admit — it is somewhat depressing.
Visiting our parish church way back then it was so uplifting to see the marble statues of Christ and other saints positioned throughout the sanctuary — unwrapped. I noticed those morbid purple coverings (some parishes used black I understand) taken off and put away for another year.
The tabernacle would be draped with white silk and gold embroidery. The priest’s garments now a brilliant white (also with gold-laced embroidery and tassels). The cross — central to the Christian church and to the Easter story, was also uncovered and drape-free. It was invigorating to the soul and to the mind.
The choir is singing God’s praises and the pipe organ seems to resonate throughout the small church and sanctuary with upbeat “hallelujah” hymns of praise.
Easter meant holidays from school and Easter pageants here and there. It meant searching our homes for Easter eggs and chewing large chocolate Easter bunnies.
Easter also signified the real beginning of spring. It’s the time of nature’s awakening after a depressive winter (I know most of you love snow and all it offers to children especially and hoards of outdoorsmen. However, I hated winter then and I still hate it now).
In spring around Easter songbirds gradually begin their return from the sunny south carrying with them those welcome chirping sounds.
Love and anticipation fills the air (especially if your garden is adorned with trees like ours). The snow slowly melts and the green grass sends its frozen blades upward seeking new light, warmth and new beginning.
Icicles melt and drop from eaves of houses and electric wires along the street. Winter clothes is put away for another year. Chains are taken off car, truck and bus wheels as those noisy and always-welcome street sanders are finally put away ‘ till next winter. A miracle is happening again before our eyes. A light is felt in the dark cavern of our mind — a light burning like a candle for those who seek the resurrected Christ.
Springtime usually brings new babies to fill our nurseries. Some say more infants arrive in the month of May than at any other time of the year. ( Guess it’s all that cuddling and snuggling for body warmth during those long cold nights that begin mid-September in Newfoundland and Labrador).
Easter is both social and spiritual. On the church liturgical calendar it is defined as the greatest celebrations of the year. The entire Christian promise is dependent on and solidified by Easter’s celebration of the resurrection of Christ from the tomb.
Easter is that same resurrected Christ in us, around us and spiritually alive within us. It speaks to the person on the street corner wearing filthy clothes, begging for food, and receiving a gift from a loving hand; the husband and wife having troubles in their marriage and finding comfort in the voice of a caring priest, counsellor and supportive neighbours; the teen who just can’t relate to his/ her parents and who finds a Chris- tian to listen to their pain of lonely days spent; the voices of prisoners, those addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, sex, abusive and lewd behaviour, the list goes on. Easter is their answer — their inner voice if he/she is willing to surrender.
Easter is a recharging of one’s Christian beliefs and a risen Christ beckoning to the lost and lonely to come.
The more fortunate
It’s for those who have more than enough to eat and spend and so share generously with the needy; those whose marriages are filled with the love of the resurrected Christ and who give witness to those young eager couples preparing to marry. Easter is youth whose lives are filled with the joy of solid families and friends, who reach out to needy adolescents who are lonely and hurting; those who are dedicated to living life to its fullest, sharing their happiness and radiating the love of the resurrected Jesus to those around them.
He is risen
Easter is for someone doing great in school or someone strug- gling with grades; for anybody and all with high or low selfesteem; those who are always happy or the one suffering depression. This is their answer — a new voice — God amongst them no matter what the circumstance. It’s another reminder that we Christians are miraculously one body in Christ and that no one is excluded (sinner or saint).
Easter is for those who are beyond their youth, who are young at heart and who are filled with seasoned wisdom.
Easter is a promise from the Christ who died and the Christ who was resurrected on that first Easter Sunday — for those who seek him and those Christians who were already there. His promise is that of a new and personal journey (in him) with fresh new eyes and wise perspectives to guide us through this troubled world.
Have a blessed and meaningful Easter.
Bill Westcott writes from Florida. He acknowledges the use of quotes from the Catholic hymnal, Voices As One, in part of this column.