Pastor’s Desk ~ March 31, 2024 ~ Easter Sunday


Dear Fellow Parishioners,

After forty days of Lent, and the three-day Triduum, we have arrived at the culmination of the Passion of Jesus Christ, which is his Resurrection.

There are two main names for the celebration of the Resurrection: “Easter” and “Pascha.” “Easter” is derived from the Saxon feast of Eostre, whereas “Pascha” is linked to the Jewish Passover of the same name.

For historical and cultural reasons, “Easter” and its variants – e.g., English “Happy Easter,” German “Frohe Ostern,” Swedish “Glad påsk” – are preferred by countries that speak Germanic languages, while “Pascha” and its variants – Spanish “Felices Pascuas,” Italian “Buona Pascua,” French “Felices Pascuas” – are preferred by countries that speak Romance languages, that is to say, languages descended from Latin.

St. Bede (672-735 AD) provides the only documented source of the origins of the name “Easter,” which comes from the pre-Christian goddess “Oestre” and the springtime feasts in her honor. By Bede’s time, celebrations of the goddess had long since died out, and but the name continued to denote that time of the year.

There are too many Easter associations and traditions to mention here, but a few deserve honorable mention. Just as Jesus resurrected in glorified form, Easter eggs represent not only new life but a whole new life form as a chick. The analogy is highly allegorical, but in nature, one must find parallels where one can!

One of the very oldest Easter traditions is that of coloring eggs. Easter eggs were thought to symbolize the empty tomb from which the resurrected Jesus emerged. Others believed that the egg itself represented the Trinity: shell, yolk and white, which stretched the analogy to its breaking point. Originally, they were colored red to symbolize the blood of Christ, and then brought to the local priest for blessings. Later on, a variety of colors were used. Even the tradition of chocolate eggs is quite ancient, dating back at least to the court of Louis XVI of France. The British confectioner Cadbury’s was making chocolate eggs as early as the 1820’s, as soon as they developed a soft form of chocolate that could be poured and hardened, using real egg shells as molds.

This is all a bit fanciful, but I was interested to learn that even the figure of the Easter bunny is quite old, going back at least to the Middle Ages. All I know is that when I go to the market or pharmacy, I see huge Easter candy and egg-coloring displays, together with news articles about the current shortage of both chocolate and eggs. The other venerable Easter custom for many is the serving of lamb on Easter Sunday, for its direct and obvious connection to Passover.

Finally, I would like wish you and your loved ones a very Happy and Blessed Easter, with safe travels for those who are traveling, and joyful celebrations for those staying close to home. May the Risen and Glorified Lord bring peace and hope not only to us, but to our whole world.

Easter Blessings,
Fr. Bill Donahue

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