It seems a long time since the Triduum of Easter; for me it is the highlight of the Christian year. Like so many Christians, I find that Christmas is too overlain with secular/commercial noise, and it can be hard to recover the true joy of the Nativity; it can be done, but the effort must be made. Easter is another matter. Our secularising world does not invade it in the same way, and the Easter Triduum offers the opportunity for prolonged reflection, and, at the Easter Vigil, for engagement with a liturgy which, even in the Novus Ordo is solemn and reverential. ‘He is Risen!’, to which, of old, Christians would respond: “He is Risen Indeed!”
One of the joys of Easter is that it is enhanced by a well-spent Lent. I almost miss the Lenten sacrifices, and give them up only in the joy of the Resurrection, where it would be wrong to stint; but that period of prayer, some privation and reflection prepares us to experience the overflowing emotion of the Resurrection. It is the turning point of history, the pivotal moment on which our salvation shifts; God intervenes decisively: it means that love is real, and through it we, who have fallen so low, shall be raised higher than the angels. If we stopped on Good Friday, then all would, indeed, have been in vain, and however edifying the teachings of Jesus, they would be no more than words on the winds of time. Man that is born of woman would, indeed, blossom and flourish, like leaves on the tree, and wither and perish, and be forgotten; if Christ was not risen, then life would be merely an exercise in passing time before decay and death.
The Church keeps Easter for seven times seven days in honour of the significance of this greatest of all feasts These fifty days of joy, in which the Gospel readings remind us of the coming of the Paraclete, and the readings from Acts encourage us with the example of the early Church, are the counter to the forty days of trials and tribulations which lead up to Easter itself. As the Psalmist reminds us:
4 Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
So, as we approach the great feast of Pentecost, let us take that message with us, and, as St John Paul II reminded us “We are the Easter people and Alleluia is our song!”