Another Easter holiday is finished and it was quite a lovely day with family. As always, there was Mass at St. Anthony’s in Boston, brunch at Anthem, and the obligatory Easter egg hunt in the backyard, all coming together like clockwork since we have repeated this same progression for years. And the baskets! Since I just ended the tradition a very few years ago for my adult children, the math proves that I have been making Easter baskets for just about thirty-five years. I am passionate about basket presentation and components – the wow factor, you might call it- and I pulled it off again, as evidenced by the reactions garnered. For me, the traditions of Easter are as cherished as those of Christmas, yet they pale to the grand Yuletide season festivities. And I wonder why.
If there were a competition among liturgical events, Easter, by far, is the mystical champion. Hence, I believe Easter deserves its due. I marvel that Easter is like a second cousin to Christmas. In terms of substance, the story of the Easter is far more extraordinary than that of Christmas, with the whole resurrection thing and subsequent reappearance of Jesus in a few weeks of scripture later. And the build up – what a tale! Palm Sunday readings of the Passion of Christ, as the precursor to the sadness of Good Friday, describe the ultimate example to all of us that you can be on the top of your game one minute and then find yourself at your lowest point the next. Last year, I sat beside my granddaughter Molly during the reading of Christ’s passion at Mass. Her head, deeply tipped while reading the words, caused my daughter and me to query whether or not she was crying. I certainly knew that she was taking it all in and after Mass, when we were sitting outside in the backyard, I asked her what she thought of the Gospel. “That was one sad story, Mam”, she replied without hesitation. Before I had a chance to ask her to expand on her response, she continued, without taking a breath. “Jesus’ friends did not stick up for him. And I’ll tell you something else, if the apostles hadn’t fallen asleep, Jesus Christ would be alive today.” I resisted the urge to laugh but her interpretation was pretty spot on – except for the being alive today part. However, her words proved that the story of the Palm Sunday and Easter have meaning in the modern day. The message is not lost, if we listen. And this child heard the message.
For years, when our children were young, we traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Easter weekend. In height of cherry blossom season, we explored the various Smithsonian museums, roamed through the state buildings, visited monuments, and celebrated Easter at Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. This last event punctuated these adventures, especially since we attended the nationally televised Mass at 11 a.m. The basilica, heavily decorated in flowers and filled with the sound of angelic voices of the choir, was ethereal. Today, when my daughter suggested that we travel with the family to Washington for Easter in the future, I realized just how special these memories truly were.
So as I assume a campaign to “Make Easter Great Again”, I gratefully muse on the memories made today and in the past, and look forward to the years ahead with egg hunts, and Easter Mass, baskets (at least another 20 years, I suspect), and brunch. But most importantly, I will remember the mysticism that is the reason for this blessed day.
‘One bright blue rose outlives all those
Two thousand years, and still it goes
To ponder his death and his life eternally’
– Bright Blue Rose, Sung by Mary Black, Lyrics by Jimmy McCarthy