Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
Speaking of which, here’s some resources on how they celebrate Easter—or more precisely “Pascha” in the Eastern Church.
This, by the way, is one of the many demonstrations of the way in which obsession with Rome makes anti-Catholics blind to certain elementary truths about the Christian faith. People who imagine they’ve really made a shocking discovery when they breathlessly announce that “Easter is pagan!!!!!” need to bear in mind that in large portions of the world, the feast is not called “Easter” at all. It winds up with that name in parts of the world that happen to derive their Mother Tongue from certain Germanic peoples because it happens to be celebrated around the time of a Germanic pagan goddess’ feast. But, as ever, what you discover is that the pagan form gets filled with Christian content, rather than the Christian form getting filled with pagan content. The egg becomes a symbol of the empty tomb, rather than the empty tomb becoming a fertility symbol. That’s pretty much the standard pattern for what happens whenever Christianity meets the pagan world.
So the feast does not *derive* from paganism. And the proof of that is that the feast is not known as “Easter” in huge swaths of the world. It’s called “Pascha” (as in “Paschal Mystery”). Because the real origins of the feast are a) the Jewish Passover and b) the crucifixion, death, and resurrection which occurred on a Passover weekend roughly 2000 years ago. This happened, not once upon a time in cloud cuckoo land, the Egyptian realm of the dead, Olympus, or Valhalla, but on a physical hilltop in Judea during the reign of a Roman bureaucrat named Pontius Pilate, whose reign can be roughly dated and is attested by big stones with his name carved in them. It was an event whose rather remarkable denouement was witnessed by over 500 people at the same time, most of whom were still alive and kicking when St. Paul said to the Corinthians, “Hey! If you don’t believe me, ask them!”
As one of those witnesses once said, “These things were not done in a corner.”