Sunday, March 23, is Easter Sunday. Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9 p.m.
He will celebrate Holy Mass of the Day with the Resurrexit Rite at 10:30 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square.
The Holy Father will also give his message and blessing urbi et orbi (to the city and to the world) from the central logia of St. Peter’s Basilica at noon.
On Good Friday, Tom takes down the few religious images we have on display in the house and places them in a bag in the fireplace.
We put burlap bags over the screen of the fireplace to make it like a “tomb.” We remove them and put them on the table after the Easter vigil.
We also have an egg hunt for friends nearly every Easter. Lynn Wehner, who with her husband, Tom Wehner, copy edits Faith & Family magazine and helps with the Register, introduced us to a new kind of egg hunt: a Scripture Shape Egg Hunt.
Details and materials are available at NCRegister.com (under “Resources”).
FamiliaUSA.net offers additional “Next Sunday Ideas.”
For Holy Saturday, the Vatican’s directory on popular piety mentions the custom of focusing on Mary’s attitude at Easter.
“According to tradition, the entire body of the Church is represented in Mary,” says the directory. It explains the Ora di Maria (Hour of Mary). “While the body of her son lays in the tomb and his soul has descended to the dead to announce liberation from the shadow of darkness to his ancestors, the Blessed Virgin Mary, foreshadowing and representing the Church, awaits, in faith, the victorious triumph of her son over death.”
Then, for Easter Sunday, the directory describes “the meeting of the Risen Christ with his mother: on Easter morning two processions, one bearing the image of Our Lady of Sorrows, the other that of the Risen Christ, meet each other so as to show that Our Lady was the first and full participant in the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection.”
To approximate this in your home, gather the family on Holy Saturday to sing Stabat Mater at an image of Our Lady (we’ll do it at the “tomb” of the fireplace!). That’s the title of the familiar hymn, “At the cross her station keeping …” To find the hymn, type stabat mater into the search engine at the University of Dayton’s website.
Then, on Easter, gather at the image of Mary again to sing or say the Regina Coeli. That hymn is also at the University of Dayton website. (The university has an excellent Marian Center.)
Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Gospel: John 20:1-9
EPriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.
Today’s Gospel is packed with lessons.
Mary Magdalene, who has a reputation as a sinner, finds the tomb first. So often it is the ones the world considers lowly who receive special favors from God.
Next, she goes to tell Peter and John. They don’t just walk, they run to the tomb — an example of the “right-away obedience” that we should give to God.
John ran faster than Peter, but he waited for Peter to go in before him. This has been traditionally noted to show the deference the faithful should show to the Church.
John may be holier, he may be closer to Jesus, he may be free of the sin of denying the Lord, but he still allows Peter, to whom Christ gave the authority, to be the one to inspect the tomb first.
We also have here what many consider the first record of the venerated shroud that is now in Turin: Peter “went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there.”
Last, we have the example of the faith of John. “He saw and believed.”
His faith came from the experience of the resurrection, not from wishful thinking, says the Gospel:
“For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”
The Hoopeses are
editorial directors of
Faith & Family magazine (FaithandFamilyMag.com).