All posts tagged: Easter

The Fitting Nature of the Sacraments

“By coming into this world our Lord Jesus Christ wished to bring holiness within the reach of all….For this end He provided certain means to fill up all their deficiencies, and supply all their needs in the supernatural order. These wonderful means of sanctification are the Sacraments. Their outward signs harmonize admirably with the grace which they contain, and with the effects which they produce. By their means, in a truly divine order of things, [created things], which have so often captivated [us] and drawn [us] away from God, become instruments for bringing [us] back. – Abbess Cecile Bruyere O.S.B.” One of the central paradoxes of human life is that it is the good things of this world that lead us astray, not the bad. No one gets fat because food tastes nasty, no one hoards things because they take up room, no one engages is sexual promiscuity for the STDs. No, it is indeed the case that food often tastes good, stuff is often cool, and sex is often pleasurable. And yet, look at …

Celebrating the Easter Season, Part 3: Dads

In his book, Families and Faith: How Religion Is Passed Down Across Generations, Vern L. Bengston notes that a father who is actively involved in religious practice is more likely to have children who continue being involved in religious practice. For this reason, it is essential for the flourishing of the American Church that dads get involved in the religious lives of their children. Here are six practices that dads might do with their kids during Easter to help develop habits of faith in the home. 6) Take Your Children to the Zoo and Speak About Religious Imagery My son loves the zoo. We ride the carousel of sundry animals (often choosing the shark or dolphin for some unknown reason). We race down hills together. We run to see the lions, the monkeys, and the terrifying carp. For this reason, it wouldn’t take a lot to talk to your kids at the zoo about the link between the animals and the Catholic imagination. Deer are prominent in early Church mosaics because of Psalm 42, “As the …

Celebrating the Easter Season, Part 2: Education

Editors’ Note: This post is part of a series offering ways to keep the joy of Easter alive for the entire fifty days of the season. Read Part 1: Music here. As my students walked into the classroom this morning, I greeted them with an energetic “Happy Easter!” One of my students quickly turned and responded, “Why are you saying that? Easter was on Sunday.” As we chatted about it further, I learned that the students had just discussed in their religion class that Easter lasts for 50 days until the celebration of Pentecost. They talked with me about Jesus’ Resurrection, his appearances to the disciples, his Ascension, and the descent of the Holy Spirit. They knew the facts, but did not recognize that we were truly still celebrating Easter. Like the concepts in every class and at every age, the truth takes a little bit longer to settle in and take root than the facts do. So how can we help our students to realize that Easter is full season of joyful celebration in the rhythm …

Formation Like the Dewfall

“Haec ergo dona, quaesumus, Spiritus tui rore sanctifica,” “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall.” These words, prayed during Mass, at the time of the epiclesis – when the priest extends his hands invoking the Holy Spirit to consecrate the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, express the slow work of my formation. “Like the dewfall” are words that consistently capture my attention during the Eucharistic prayer, and I find myself echoing the prayer over and over again in my head, long after they escape the priest’s mouth, as if trying to retain the image forever, connecting my growing awareness of God’s love to the slow formative work of the dewfall. “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall.”  Dew is a mysterious substance, a film of moisture that appears when we wake to each new day, coating the ground we walk on. This coat of condensation is subtle, not overpowering, …

Celebrating the Easter Season, Part 1: Music

Here at Church Life Journal, we’ve had several conversations about the challenge of celebrating Easter for the entire the season, and we figure if we’re struggling to keep our Easter joy alive for fifty days, others probably are too. To that end, we’re offering several posts over the next two weeks with some ideas for sustaining a spirit of celebration throughout the Easter season. First, we’ve put together not one but two Spotify playlists to help people enter into the joy of the season through music, which is a key component of our liturgical life and our daily life (remembering of course that our liturgical life is meant to overflow into and transform our daily life). This music has been chosen for its ability to remind us that Christ is alive forever, that the darkness has been conquered, that “the sufferings of this present life are as nothing compared with the glory about to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18, NRSV), and that “if we have been united with [Jesus Christ] in a death like his, we will …

A Letter to the Newly-Baptized

To the Newly-Baptized: You may already feel it—the fact that this journey you are on made a significant transition when you were baptized. Though you remain on the same path towards Christ, your landscape and means for getting there have radically changed. In this post I will discuss three ways in which your Baptism marked a significant moment in your journey, changing you irreversibly, and then speak to the continuing nature of your journey. First, in Baptism you were adopted into a new family, one of choice. Though you were born into a birth family many years ago, Robin Jensen in Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity notes that “unlike a birth family, this was a family one chose” (57). Tertullian exhorts the one being baptized saying: When you come up from that most sacred washing of the new birth and for the first time you raise your hands with your brethren in your mother’s house, ask of your Father, ask of your Lord, for special grants of grace and attributions of spiritual gifts. (58) You now have …

Advent Eschatology

Oh I’d be waiting with quiet fasting, Anticipating A joy more lasting. —Madeleine L’Engle, “The Birth of Wonder” Advent—like Lent—is a liturgical period when we mark time according to what is still hidden. The Easter Hope is shrouded in sin and suffering, it has not yet broken open the world in Resurrection; the Christmas Hope of Christ’s glory is shrouded in the womb of the Virgin, it has not yet breached into the waking world of man. But Advent—unlike Lent—is not a season of penitential sorrow. Rather, Advent is a period of deep anticipation of the lasting joy that is coming into the world. To keep Advent is not to pretend, in a facile suspension of belief, that Christ has not been incarnated, that his great Nativity never occurred. Rather, to keep Advent is to walk in liturgical solidarity with all humanity’s forebears who lived in the pre-Incarnation world and to commemorate their anticipation of a Savior. As we walk with them along their journey of anticipation, we sense that we ourselves are a people …

The Mass for Millennials: the Solemn Blessing

 “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”[1] In the Jewish tradition the Levites, the sons of Aaron, had two main functions – to offer sacrifice to God in the Temple and, as we read in Numbers, to bless the Israelites using the name of God. Through this sacrifice and blessing they carried out their task of sanctifying the people and keeping them in union with the Lord. The triple blessing found in the Book of Numbers continues to be used right to the present day, found in the Roman Missal as one of the optional Solemn Blessings to be given at the end of Mass. It has always been a powerful …

The Mass for Millennials: The Communion Hymn

St. Augustine famously said that he who sings prays twice. Commonly seen on choir t-shirts and tour booklets, a reapplication of Augustine’s phrase taken out of context elevates the skill of those able to sing as being more accomplished at prayer. Yet, this isn’t quite true. Reading the whole text which this blurb is taken from leads to a deeper understanding. Augustine writes, “For he who sings praise, does not only praise, but also praises joyfully; he who sings praise, not only sings, but also loves Him whom he is singing about/to/for. There is a praise-filled public proclamation (praedicatio) in the praise of someone who is confessing/acknowledging [God], in the song of the lover [there is] love” (Enarratio in Psalmum 72, 1: CCL 39, 986). There are multiple ways of looking at this, yet I’m interested in one specific application of this.  Augustine’s passage is concerned with love. An apt parallel can be drawn to the Song of Songs, which Origen describes as, “a drama of love is that of the Bride hastening to consummate her …

Tales from the Crypt

I spent Easter in a cemetery. No, I wasn’t exactly visiting the graves of my blood relatives. Nor was I trying to get a part in an episode of CSI. I was at Mass—the Easter Vigil to be exact. Out in the far right corner of the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama is a town called Holy Trinity. There, a little Catholic community founded by the Trinitarian order has a parish church. The Trinitarians also have three cemeteries on their grounds—one for the sisters, one for the priests and brothers, and the one for the public. On Holy Saturday night, I found myself, along with 40 parishioners, there in the public cemetery, standing somewhere between the living and the dead. I’d like to tell you about some of the people buried there as well as how we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus in their midst on that night. Here lies Leon Domingo—a 23-year-old African American from Jersey City, a former soldier. He rests here after being falsely accused of raping and murdering a White girl in …