Dear OSJ Family,
The Lord is Risen; indeed, He is Risen! Today our Church celebrates, with great joy, the principal feast of the liturgical year, Easter. Pope Leo I in the 4th century described Easter as the “greatest feast (festum festorum) and the very center of our holy faith.” Easter is also referred to as Pascha from the ancient Greek and Latin from which the word Paschal is derived. Whatever word we employ to describe today’s great feast, it remains for us, the Church, the grand festival celebrating and commemorating God’s great love for us in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!
For us Catholic Christians, Easter, the Day of Resurrection, is marked by the use of various liturgical symbols rooted in the scriptures and in our sacred tradition. These include the pronounced singing of the Alleluia, Hebrew for “Praise the Lord” (Tobit 13:17), after forty days of refraining from using that meaningful word, the ringing of bells that signify “making a joyful noise to the Lord” , (Psalm 98:4) and the Paschal greeting, The Lord is Risen, indeed He is Risen!( Matthew 28:6) We also see our sanctuary adorned with white lilies, a symbol of the Resurrection, as the new, pure, flower blooms, like Christ, bringing new life and a pleasing aroma! (Song of Solomon 2:1) The Easter Candle, that represents Christ as the “Light of the World” (John 8:12), the very light that “dispels all darkness” remains by the pulpit throughout the Easter season.
Additionally, the vestments of the priest, and the altar frontal, are white symbolizing great rejoicing, life, light, purity, and triumph. (Revelation 7:14) Indeed, the Resurrection of Our Lord is God’s triumph of light over darkness, of joy over sorrow, of love over hatred, of life over death!
It is important to remember that Easter is not just one day but an entire “season” of the Church’s liturgical year. The Easter Season or “Eastertide” is, in fact, a period of fifty days lasting from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. It is celebrated as a single joyful feast, truly as the “great Lord’s Day”. Each Sunday of the season is treated as a Sunday of Easter, and, after the Sunday of the Resurrection, they are named Second Sunday of Easter, Third Sunday of Easter, etc. up to the Seventh Sunday of Easter, while the whole fifty-day period concludes with Pentecost Sunday. Finally there are additional symbols and customs that mark Eastertide across the Christian world, including one of our favorites in the US; Easter baskets filled with candy (a treat after the days of fasting in Lent) and Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb and the new life that emerges from it. And of course there is the infamous Easter bunny, a symbol of fertility and new life….all of which should point to Jesus Christ and to His Resurrection, the Lord’s victory of life over death!
On behalf of the Jesuits, the parish staff, and our various volunteers, ministers, councils and committees at OSJ, I wish you and yours a very Blessed and Happy Easter!
The Lord is Risen; indeed, He is Risen!
Fr. Phil Florio, SJ