Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday, Easter Eggs, and Bunnies - What is This All About?

Today is Holy Saturday and the Easter vigil begins.  Today will be a day filled with family coming in and egg hunts and putting the finishing touches on the outfits that will be worn tomorrow.  It is a time when we can put away the black, dark, drab shoes of winter and pull out the white shoes of summer.  But what exactly is Holy Saturday you ask?  Well on Holy Saturday "the women saw how His body was laid; and they prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment" we are told in Luke 23:55,56.  Holy Saturday (in Latin, Sabbatum Sanctum), the 'day of the entombed Christ', is the Lord's day of rest, for on that day Christ's body lay in His tomb. We recall the Apostle's Creed, which says "He descended unto the dead." It is a day of suspense between two worlds, that of darkness, sin and death, and that of the Resurrection and the restoration of the Light of the World. For this reason no divine services are held until the Easter Vigil begins that night. This day between Good Friday and Easter Day makes present to us the end of one world and the complete newness of the era of salvation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.  Ideally, Holy Saturday should be the quietest day of the year (although this is not as easy in a busy household with children as it might be in a convent or monastery.) Nightfall on Holy Saturday is time for joy and greatest expectation because of the beautiful liturgy of the Easter Vigil, often referred to as the Mother of all Holy Vigils, or the Great Service of Light. The Easter Vigil was restored to the liturgy in 1955, during the liturgical reform that preceded the Second Vatican Council.  During the day, the preparations at home that must be made for Easter Day are appropriate, however, because they keep our attention fixed on the holiness and importance of the most central feast of the Church. Working with our children to prepare for Easter can offer us many 'teaching moments', as well.  Most American families observe Easter customs and traditions, but the religious significance of many of these may be lost. For example, new Easter clothes. It was part of the baptismal ceremony (and a token still remains) that the candidates for baptism (catechumens) were given a new white garment to wear — both its newness and its whiteness signifying purity. It may seem that Easter is just another excuse for merchandizing (so does Christmas). But we Christians need not regard wearing new or special Easter clothes simply as commercialism or vanity. Christians should try to keep in mind, when wearing something new for this holiday, our New Life in Christ. And we should do our best to make our appearance match the joyousness of the greatest feast of the Church.  The Christian symbolism of Easter bunnies might seem pretty obscure, and it's easy to suppose that the rabbits are simply a pagan symbol taken over by Christianity. Even if so, bear in mind that the ancestors of pre-Christian (even pre-historic) pagans at some time knew about the true God — Adam and Eve and Noah, for example. Pagan beliefs about God's action in the world and about man's true destiny were far from the truth, of course, but many things can be understood through basic human intelligence — and that intelligence comes from God. The coming of spring is a cause for rejoicing for everybody, whether Christians or non-Christians. The Easter bunny is actually a pretty good symbol of God's plan for His creatures (including humans) to "be fruitful and multiply", and of the renewed exuberance of all creatures in cooperating with God in creating new life. (The Easter bunny might seem to be more a metaphor for God's plan for His creation in Genesis than in the Gospels.) Maybe we should think of the fecundity of rabbits as a symbol of evangelizing, and the many new believers God desires. Just think about it....the eggs the Easter rabbit carries in a basket could be representing Christians carrying the message of Christ into the world.  The Easter egg is a symbol of the Resurrection. The shell represents the tomb that could not contain the Resurrected Lord. The chick that bursts forth from its lifeless shell is a metaphor for the mystery of Christ's Resurrection. Filling baskets with colored Easter eggs is a nearly universal custom in Christian countries, and there are nearly as many traditional ways to dye and decorate eggs as there are ethnic groups. From the very elaborate and expensive Easter eggs made by the jeweler Faberg√© for the Russian czar in the nineteenth century, to the intricately etched pysanky eggs of the Ukraine and similarly distinctive egg-decorating customs of eastern Europe, to the simple (if messy) kitchen-table food-coloring dyed eggs most Americans know, the Easter egg is revered as a symbol of the Resurrection. While your family probably has its own traditions about the best way to do Easter eggs, there are web pages and articles and library books on the subject, that might give you some new ideas. One idea is to paint one of the eggs gold and write Alleluia on it. The child who discovers the Alleluia egg might be given a special honor.  So, today as you celebrate this glorious weekend with an egg hunt, or a family reunion....remember...that soon....tomorrow, Sunday is coming....and Christ will Rise!  Halleluiah!  Have a blessed day!


Aunt Sharon said...

Hi, Karen - I was so sorry to hear of your Mother's passing. I think of you so often and remember with great fondness and always a smile our time together at camp. I pray we get to do that again soon. I hope you have a wonderful and blessed Easter. Sending you hugs and kisses.

*The Old Geezer said...

Amen! Sunday is coming! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

God bless and have a wonderful Easter


Queenie Jeannie said...

Happy Easter - Buon Pasqua!

Wonderful post!! So sorry I've been a lousy bloggy friend...trying valiantly to catch up on emails/blog comments now....

Big hugs dear friend!