Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
May the Graces that are bestowed on us from the Risen Christ be with you and your families this Easter!
I often wondered about the name of this feast: Easter. It did not seem very descriptive of the feast of the Resurrection. But on closer examination, there is a depth and a precision to it that is indeed beautiful.
In the early church all church buildings had the sanctuary pointing east. As I said in an earlier article, this was why the priest and the people worshiped facing the same way, east, when we used the Latin Tridentine Mass. Actually, it dates from before the Council of Trent. In both Orthodox and Catholic Church architecture there is a trend toward facing east from the earliest centuries of Christianity. This is because it is the direction of the sunrise. It betokens a new day, a new possibility, a new covenant and a new kingdom. It reminds us of that morning on the first day of the week when after the sun rose, the women discovered that the tomb was empty and that He was risen! Is it not appropriate that the weekly commemoration of this in English is “Sunday”, i.e. Day of the Rising Sun. Easter, therefore, is a feast that orients us toward the Resurrected Lord in a total gift of self, Orient being another way of saying the East.
I remember one day when I was on retreat in a Monastery upstate called Mount Saviour Monastery. This holy place is a wonderful and beautiful place of prayer that has meant a lot to me over the years both preparing for the Priesthood and as a Priest.
It was a cold winter day. After Mass and breakfast I decided to stay out in the cold to catch the Sunrise. (The day of the monks begins very early!)
As I faced east, I first saw the rosy glow of light as the sun approached the horizon. Then it peaked over the line of trees in the distance. As it rose, it gained in power and majesty, warming the earth and reassuring creation that another day had been given it. For a brief moment, as the full circled orb of light cleared the horizon, it seemed like the host elevated at Mass. The rising sun was the very body of Christ spreading its hopeful light on the cold and dark world. Even in that freezing cold I could not help but pray a prayer of thanksgiving for life, for redemption, for grace, for Christ! All seemed as it should be while the King once more entered our world to warm and give life where sin and darkness had abounded!
This is what made the word “Easter” so descriptive and so right for today’s feast. All is different because the Son has been raised from the dead. Now all things are possible since death, evil and sin have been definitely defeated and the conquering King comes over the horizon to establish His Kingdom.
His Kingdom is a Kingdom of Justice, Peace and Mercy. It is one where good reigns and evil is exposed. It is a Kingdom worth dying for. It is a Kingdom where the sinner finds repentance and the saint finds the Loved One. It is a Kingdom where the King serves His subjects. It is a Kingdom of Servants proudly conquering, by their humility, the pride, violence and selfishness of this World.
As St. Ignatius writes in his Spiritual Exercises, it is time for us to choose whose side we are on. Will we dedicate our lives to our Risen King and His Reign or choose the vanquished side of boredom, nihilism and pride.
As the community dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of His Mother, it is my hope that this Easter may be a dawn of freedom for every member of our community, that all may realize the surpassing worth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and thereby dedicate ourselves to His Kingdom on Earth and his Reign in heaven forever.
Have a Blessed Easter with your families and friends!