Growing up Catholic, I never truly understood all of the “celebrations” around Easter time. 

Let’s see, it starts with Ash Wednesday; you know, that terribly spiritual ritual of smearing the ashes from last year’s burnt palm fronds on your forehead…and the four prayers expressing what those ashes symbolize:

1. “To be a spiritual help for all who confess their sins.
2. To secure pardon of sins for those who receive the ashes.
3. To give us the spirit of contrition.
4. To give us the grace and strength to do penance.”  ~ fisheaters.com

Which, of course, would result in eternal damnation should you attempt to rub them off:

“They are a public witness to those things our society does not wish to embrace: the reality of death, penance for sin, and the hope of resurrection in Our Lord, Jesus Christ.”  ~ fisheaters.com

Leading into the 40 days of Lent, where you must give something up that you can’t live without, and eat fish:

“The focus of this Season is the Cross and penance, penance, penance as we imitate Christ’s forty days of fasting, like Moses and Elias before Him, and await the triumph of Easter. We fast; abstain, mortify the flesh, give alms, and think more of charitable works. Awakening each morning with the thought, ‘How might I make amends for my sins? How can I serve God in a reparative way? How can I serve others today?’ is the attitude to have.
We also practice mortifications by “giving up something” that would be a sacrifice to do without, and it can entail, too, taking on something unpleasant that we’d normally avoid, for example, going out of one’s way to do another’s chores, performing ‘random acts of kindness,’ etc.”
  ~ fisheaters.com

There’s Palm Sunday…the spiritual day you bring palm fronds home to braid:

“Today is the memorial of Christ’s ‘triumphant,’ but misunderstood, entry into Jerusalem, the day that begins Holy Week. This entry into Jerusalem is seen as the prophetic fulfillment of Zacharias 9:9-10.”   ~ fisheaters.com

And Good Friday, which I never quite understood how it could possibly be “good” when this poor man was killed on a cross:

“Good Friday is the most somber day of the entire year. A silence pervades, socializing is kept to a minimum, things are done quietly; it is a day of mourning; it is a funeral. The Temple of the Body of Christ is destroyed. Traditional Catholics wear black, cover their mirrors, extinguish candles and any lamps burning before icons, keep amusements and distractions down, and go about the day in great solemnity.”  ~ fisheaters.com

Finally, Easter Sunday!  The day we get to wear a beautiful new outfit, our Easter baskets are stolen, hidden, searched for and found filled with yummy treats, then off to church (for the first of typically two times this year):

“On this, the holiest day of the entire year, Latin Catholics greet each other with the words of Luke 24:34, ‘Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia!’ (‘The Lord is risen indeed!’). The person so greeted responds, “Et apparuit Simoni, alleluia!’ (‘And hath appeared unto Simon!’). Catholics may even answer their telephones with this greeting. The Easter table should be adorned with the best of everything — the most beautiful china, a pure, white tablecloth, the best possible wine, flowers (especially pussy willow, lilies, and spring bulb flowers), etc., all with the colors white and gold — symbolizing purity and glory. And we should look our best, too; it is common to buy a new outfit to wear on this day. This custom springs from the idea of ‘newness’ inherent in the entire Season — the new members of the Church baptized at the Vigil in their new Baptismal albs, the New Law, a new life in Christ.”  ~ fisheaters.com

Since my childhood naïveté, I praise God that He has opened my eyes and given me understanding.  Easter is about Christ’s death and resurrection, not what we can do to make ourselves worthy to accept His sacrifice… or a fictitious magical bunny.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”   Matthew 27:45-54

Christ came, lived a perfect life, died in my place on a cross, and three days later returned…all so that I might have a way to live in eternity with Him.

Praise Him for that unbelievable, beautiful, and precious gift!

It is a good Friday, indeed.

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