Continuing on with our Lenten series in which Saint Augustine is our guide, go here , here ,here , here, here , here , here and here to read the first eight posts in the series, we come to the conclusion with the eternal glory of Easter.
In this Vale of Tears we lead lives afflicted by sin and always in the shadow of death. Christ came to free us from the chains of sin and to prove to us that death is not an end, but merely our beginning in infinity. My mother died thirty years ago on Easter Sunday 1984. Because of Easter I know that I will see her again, along with my son who died last year on Pentecost. Without either hope or love we are but poor creatures indeed. Easter gives us hope and tells us that we are children of a loving God. Saint Augustine reminds us of these great truths: Continue reading
My fellow Americans:
This week as American families draw together in worship, we join with millions upon millions of others around the world also celebrating the traditions of their faiths. During these days, at least, regardless of nationality, religion, or race, we are united by faith in God, and the barriers between us seem less significant.
Observing the rites of Passover and Easter, we’re linked in time to the ancient origins of our values and to the unborn generations who will still celebrate them long after we’re gone. As Paul explained in his Epistle to the Ephesians, “He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. So then you were no longer strangers and aliens, but you were fellow citizens of God’s household.”
This is a time of hope and peace, when our spirits are filled and lifted. It’s a time when we give thanks for our blessings-chief among them, freedom, peace, and the promise of eternal life.
This week Jewish families and friends have been celebrating Passover, a tradition rich in symbolism and meaning. Its observance reminds all of us that the struggle for freedom and the battle against oppression waged by Jews since ancient times is one shared by people everywhere. And Christians have been commemorating the last momentous days leading to the crucifixion of Jesus 1,950 years ago. Tomorrow, as morning spreads around the planet, we’ll celebrate the triumph of life over death, the Resurrection of Jesus. Both observances tell of sacrifice and pain but also of hope and triumph.
As we look around us today, we still find human pain and suffering, but we also see it answered with individual courage and spirit, strengthened by faith. For example, the brave Polish people, despite the oppression of a godless tyranny, still cling to their faith and their belief in freedom. Shortly after Palm Sunday Mass this week, Lech Walesa faced a cheering crowd of workers outside a Gdansk church. He held his hand up in a sign of victory and predicted, “The time will come when we will win.”
Recently, an East German professor, his wife, and two daughters climbed into a 7-foot rowboat and crossed the freezing, wind-whipped Baltic to escape from tyranny. Arriving in West Germany after a harrowing 7-hour, 31-mile journey past East German border patrols, the man said he and his family had risked everything so that the children would have the chance to grow up in freedom.
In Central America Communist-inspired revolution still spreads terror and instability, but it’s no match for the much greater force of faith that runs so deep among the people. We saw this during Pope John Paul II’s recent visit there. As he conducted a Mass in Nicaragua, state police jeered and led organized heckling by Sandinista supporters. But the Pope lifted a crucifix above his head and waved it at the crowd before him, then turned and symbolically held it up before the massive painting of Sandinista soldiers that loomed behind. The symbol of good prevailed. In contrast, everywhere else the Holy Father went in the region, spreading a message that only love can build, he was met by throngs of enthusiastic believers, eager for Papal guidance and blessing. Continue reading
Ed Driscol notes that Google has a predictable manner of observing Easter. Ironic, since whatever else you could say about Cesar Chavez he was a devout Catholic:
“While two billion Christians around the world celebrate Easter Sunday on this 31st day of March, Google is using its famous ‘Doodle’ search logo art to mark the birth of left-wing labor leader,” Twitchy.com notes, adding that “Google’s Easter insult sparks Twitter backlash, mockery,” as well it should.
The timing of latest in-your-face politically correct homepage is oddly appropriate. As Dennis Prager has written, “You cannot understand the Left if you do not understand that leftism is a religion,” and one with its own sources of mythology. Back in 2006 at Tech Central Station, Lee Harris described French Marxist Georges Sorel (1847-1922), and the concept of the Sorelian Myth:
Sorel, for whom religion was important, drew a comparison between the Christian and the socialist revolutionary. The Christian’s life is transformed because he accepts the myth that Christ will one day return and usher in the end of time; the revolutionary socialist’s life is transformed because he accepts the myth that one day socialism will triumph, and justice for all will prevail. What mattered for Sorel, in both cases, is not the scientific truth or falsity of the myth believed in, but what believing in the myth does to the lives of those who have accepted it, and who refuse to be daunted by the repeated failure of their apocalyptic expectations. How many times have Christians in the last two thousand years been convinced that the Second Coming was at hand, only to be bitterly disappointed — yet none of these disappointments was ever enough to keep them from holding on to their great myth. So, too, Sorel argued, the myth of socialism will continue to have power, despite the various failures of socialist experiments, so long as there are revolutionaries who are unwilling to relinquish their great myth. That is why he rejected scientific socialism — if it was merely science, it lacked the power of a religion to change individual’s lives. Thus for Sorel there was “an…analogy between religion and the revolutionary Socialism which aims at the apprenticeship, preparation, and even the reconstruction of the individual — a gigantic task.” Continue reading
I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.
How many movements throughout the history of Man have flourished briefly and then vanished into everlasting oblivion, forgotten entirely by History or relegated to the briefest of footnotes? From a human standpoint that was clearly the fate of the movement started by the carpenter/rabbi from Galilee following His death on a cross. His followers had scattered and went into hiding at His arrest. He was denied by the mob, their choosing a bandit and murderer over Him. Condemned by the foreigners occupying His country, His people observed His death by mocking Him. The idea that He had founded a “Church” that would spread around the globe, altering all of human history, and causing Him to be worshiped as God by billions of people would have struck any neutral observer as mad ravings. Yet that is precisely what happened. Continue reading
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Easter is the feast of the new creation. Jesus is risen and dies no more. He has opened the door to a new life, one that no longer knows illness and death. He has taken mankind up into God himself. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, as Saint Paul says in the First Letter to the Corinthians (15:50). On the subject of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection, the Church writer Tertullian in the third century was bold enough to write: “Rest assured, flesh and blood, through Christ you have gained your place in heaven and in the Kingdom of God” (CCL II, 994). Continue reading
O Christ, You Saviour of the world, merciful Creator and Redeemer, the only offspring from the Godhead of the Father, flowing in an indescribable manner from the heart of Your Parent, You self-existing Word, and powerful from the mouth of Your Father, equal to Him, of one mind with Him, His fellow, coeval with the Father, from whom at first the world derived its origin!
You suspend the firmament, You heap together the soil, You pour forth the seas, by whose government all things which are fixed in their places flourish. Who seeing that the human race was plunged in the depth of misery, that You might rescue man, Yourself also became man: nor were You willing only to be born with a body, but You became flesh, which endured to be born and to die. You undergo funeral obsequies, Yourself the author of life and framer of the world, You enter the path of death, in giving the aid of salvation. Continue reading
Thou art holy, Lord God, who alone workest wonders. Thou art strong. Thou art great. Thou art most high. Thou art the Almighty King, Thou, holy Father, King of heaven and earth. Thou art the Lord God Triune and One; all good. Thou art good, all good, highest good, Lord God living and true. Thou art charity, love. Thou art wisdom. Thou art humility. Thou art patience. Thou art security. Thou art quietude. Thou art joy and gladness. Thou art justice and temperance. Thou art all riches to sufficiency. Thou art beauty. Thou art meekness. Thou art protector. Thou art guardian and defender. Thou art strength. Thou art refreshment. Thou art our hope. Thou art our faith. Thou art our great sweetness. Thou art our eternal life, great and admirable Lord, God Almighty, merciful Saviour.
Saint Francis of Assisi
Something for the weekend. Tantum Ergo. It says something vastly significant about the Church that perhaps the greatest intellect of all time, Saint Thomas Aquinas, was not only a Doctor of the Church, but also capable of writing this magnificent hymn. On December 6, 1273, a few months before his death, Saint Thomas had a mystical experience while saying mass. He stopped writing at this point, saying that all that he had written was mere straw in comparison to what had been revealed to him. In Easter we celebrate that the God who made the Universe, died for each and every one of us and rose from the dead to deliver us from sin and death. Our intellects, through revelation, teach us much about that God. However, the love He has for us teaches us so much more. Easter is an everlasting reminder of that love and for those who embrace God’s love and grace, each day truly is Easter.
Nine years later, shortly before his death in a Chinese prisoner of war camp, he preached another Easter sermon. Before a crude wooden cross he gave an unforgettable sermon on the Passion of Our Lord and led the rosary using a barbed wire rosary he had made from the wire that ringed the camp. Suffering from dysentery, pneumonia and an infection in one of his legs and in his eyes and so weak he could barely stand, he somehow found the strength to help his men, in the midst of their misery, to recognize the boundless joy of Easter. In many ways the entire life of Father Kapaun was a joyful sermon on Easter.
In recent years Halloween has gone from a primarily child-oriented holiday to an occasion of commercial importance comparable to Christmas or Easter. National retail sales figures indicate that Halloween is the 6th biggest holiday for retailers — behind Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day — and rapidly gaining ground, particularly among young adults.
The trend has now sparked a movement of sorts — led by the Spirit Halloween retail chain — to move Halloween permanently to the last Saturday in October. Their online petition at this link (http://www.spirithalloweekend.com/ ) asks Congress to lend its official endorsement to the change, although that would not be strictly necessary since Halloween is not a federal or national holiday.
Mr. Wilson first came on my radarscope when he wrote in 1990 what I perceived to be a fairly nasty biography of C. S. Lewis which I thought was actually much more about Wilson’s dislike of Christianity. At the time of writing the book on Lewis, Wilson was an angry atheist. He had been an Anglican, a Catholic, an Anglican, and then an atheist. In 1991 he wrote a short volume, 53 pages, entitled Against Religion in which he declared that the love of God was the root of all evil. An interview from his atheist days is here.
On this Easter, I would like to join in a commendation of Captain Richard Phillips — profiled here in the New York Times.
According to Reuters, when the U.S. Cargo ship Maersk Alabama was attacked by Somalian pirates on Wednesday, Captain Phillips told his crew to lock themselves in the cabin and offered his own life in exchange for their safety.
Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!
One of our reasons for being here on The American Catholic is to provide a forum for spirited yet respectful discourse on the often controversial intersection of Catholicism and civic life. I know I very much enjoy the controversies here, and I’ve learned a lot from the other writers and commenters here over the last seven months.
However, there is a time and place for everything, and as we enter the most sacred period of the year, there’s been discussion among our contributors about instituting an Easter Peace of sorts. We will not be closing comments, however we would respectfully ask that readers consider adopting a more restrained tone between evening of Holy Thursday and the morning of Easter Monday. (If you find the time to read at all.)
All new posts during that time will be on Holy Week related themes.
From the writing team: A blessed Triduum and Easter to all our readers.