First off welcome home to the all of the
new Catholics who have entered the Catholic Church this Easter! One of
the parts of the Easter Vigil I always love is those in R.C.I.A.
entering the Church and receiving Communion for the first time.
I am always flooded with the emotions of my own entry into
the Church and my first Communion received worthily from Fr.
Santos, OATH (Oblate Apostles of the Two Hearts). On my way to
Communion for the first time is when I first realized that I had
literally spent 40 years in the wilderness – the concept which I
included in my conversion story.
One of the shifts I am still working on
making is the full realization that Easter is the greatest feast in the
Church. Christmas usually gets so more more attention and is
met with a greater anticipation. Part of the problem is the
cultural focus on Christmas with so much emphasis that it is more
difficult to fully realize that reality of Easter. Even
though I intellectually realize that Easter is the highest Feast and
know the reasons for this, I still do not have the same anticipation
for Easter as I do for Christmas.
As great as the gift of the Incarnation
is, the gift we received of the empty tomb and our subsequent
redemption extends the gift of the Incarnation to our redemption. The present we received on his
birthday was fully opened and revealed to us upon his death and
subsequent resurrection. He left the gift wrapping of his
burial shroud behind him in that tomb. He is the gift that keeps on
giving. Like Chesterton I joined the Church to get rid of my
sins. The first stage of wisdom is knowing you have sins to
get rid of. Possibly the second stage of wisdom is knowing
you continuously have sins to get rid of and I must say I am quite
thankful to God for the gift of confession. The truth is that
he who is wisdom himself suffered and died for us to extend the promise
he made to the good thief to all of us.
I think it is no surprise that the culture
can so embrace Christmas and see Easter as a footnote if anything.
Though I am happy that there are no countdowns of shopping
days till Easter and that while there is Easter commercialization it is
certainly not to the same extent. The basic distillation of
Christmas movies is that family is important, and not necessarily that
the Holy Family is important. If there were Easter movies the
message should be that repentance is important, or actually absolutely
crucial. But the message that we have sins that need repenting of in
the first place is of course quite frowned upon. If you feel bad about
doing something it must be just guilt and the cure is to help you to
remove the guilt. To be more accurate the truth is that the culture
still believes in sin, it is just that a quite different list has been
come up with and a whole bunch of sins have been crossed off. And the
ones that are crossed off are suppose to be absolved on the
psychiatrist’s couch instead. But of course the reaction to Good Friday
and Easter is nothing new.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek
wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to
Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both
Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of
God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the
weakness of God is stronger than men. – 1st Corinthians
A stumbling block indeed as is evidenced
by this recent story.
The pastors at this church in Raleigh,
North Carolina, were perplexed when they saw the Holy Week Sunday
school lessons for preschoolers from “First Look,” the publisher of the
one to five year-old Sunday school class materials. There wasn’t a
mention of the resurrection of Jesus. Naturally, the pastors inquired
about the oversight. It turns out it was no oversight…
“Easter is a special time in churches,” the letter from the publisher
says. “It’s a time of celebration and thankfulness. But because of the
graphic nature of the Easter story and the crucifixion specifically, we
need to be careful as we choose what we tell preschoolers about Easter.”
Mark Steyn replied to this story.
So now the story ends with the Last
– and presumably afterwards Jesus and His friends watch Elmo and then
go to bed. That the foundational event of your faith is now excessively
“disturbing” is almost too parodic a reductio of the Wimp Christianity
of the mainline churches.
Though Jesus’ death and his dying for our
sins is rather disturbing in that our sins did indeed require this.
That at the Agony in the Garden Jesus felt the weight of the
sins of the world past, present, and future and that our own sins are
heaped upon this weight. That his death wasn’t just
satisfaction for “those worst of sinners”, but was required because of
the sins of each and everyone of us. We can’t play the
Pharisee here thanking God that we are not like others. God
is always thinking of us or else we would just stop existing, but I
certainly realize that during this agony he was thinking of me and my
sins. Not exactly a thought that leads to pride.
But if we can’t be humbled and thankful thinking about
Easter, then we can’t be either humble or thankful.
Alleluia, Christ is risen indeed! May you
have a blessed Eastertide.