Let’s join in 50 days of feasting!

Categories: Guest Views

This is Father James Hahn’s final column for The St. Cloud Visitor, published March 27, 2008.

We are an Easter people! This is our time, now. With amazing speed — this year, within three months — we have celebrated Jesus’ taking on our human nature, learned by what he taught by word and example, shared in eucharistic Last Supper, commemorated our salvation through his passion and death, and now rejoice in the promise of our resurrection through his.

Lent outlined 40 days of fasting for us to join Christ in his travails while living his human life among us on earth. Easter gives us a season of 50 days of feasting to celebrate Christ’s victory for us over the worst that this world can give.

The eucharistic acclamation “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again” has us declare what it all is about.

We commemorate the passion and death of Jesus. Even the most optimistic pagan faces the reality that no one gets out of this world alive. Thomas Gray’s “Elegy written in a country churchyard” stresses the inevitable: “The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” Henry Thoreau observed in “Walden” that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

Jesus entered into this human condition. We do well to contemplate his toils and sufferings and then join ours with his. However, we do not remain stuck in this morass. We realize that we have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ. We are people of hope, confident that we can share life beyond this world.

We rightly celebrate Easter. Our liturgy, the formal prayer of the church, usually is sedate and reserved. When it comes to resurrection, it becomes exuberant, reaching to superlatives again and again. In the great vigil service of light, the Easter proclamation (Exultet) begins, “Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! Exult, all creation around God’s throne! Jesus Christ, our King, is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!”

We may well have spent 40 days of Lenten prayer, penance and almsgiving — indeed, the more we have joined Christ in his travails, the more we are with him in his victory. It is fitting that our celebration goes beyond Easter Sunday and the Easter octave into the season that extends 50 days all the way to Pentecost.

We celebrate the future. So many of our festivities go far beyond what has taken place in anticipation of what lies ahead. A baptismal party rejoices in a child’s birth and christening, but looks forward to a happy life both on earth and in heaven. A wedding celebrates the couple’s beginning a new life together. Even an anniversary party reaches ahead: at sacerdotal festivities we hear the greeting “Ad multos annos!”

So it is with Easter. Christ’s victory is our victory. As he has overcome the limitations of this life, so can we — by his grace — do the same. The acclamation “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again” includes us.

To the Point, let’s have a party. A big party! We have every reason to celebrate Easter. Let’s join in 50 days of feasting!