Having completed our 40-day Lenten observance, with its good Confession and penances, we come to the liturgical year’s zenith, Easter Sunday. Without the stark, penitential season of Lent, we do not see the true splendour of Easter. There is an adage among musicians and actors: “Everything is nothing.” That is to say, when the volume is always turned up without variation, after a while we get bored and tune it out. We must fast before we feast so that the feasting is more festive.
The prayers of Holy Mass contain spiritual compasses. The Post Communion prayer for the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo) on Easter Sunday provides a helpful direction: “Perpetuo, Deus, Ecclesiam tuam pio favore tuere, ut, paschalibus renovata mysteriis, ad resurrectionis perveniat claritatem.”
Current ICEL translation (2011): “Look upon your Church, O God, with unfailing love and favour, so that, renewed by the paschal mysteries, she may come to the glory of the Resurrection.”
The phrase “renewed by the paschal mysteries” points not merely to our commemoration of historical events, the Passion, death and resurrection of the Lord. The liturgical renewal of those events transforms us when we celebrate and receive the sacraments. In their renewal we are renewed. We are our rites.
The Post Communion underscores the renewal that we as a Church have experienced. Like grains of wheat, we fell and died during Lent. Now, with Easter, we too rise again in order to bear abundant fruit in living. Don’t we prune flowering bushes and trees so that they will give us even more lavish blossoms and fruit? We are pruned throughout Lent. And not only during Lent. Each Friday is a little Lent when we are all required to do penance and die to self. Each Sunday is a little Easter when we rise.
St Augustine of Hippo (d 430) taught zealous new converts about our intimate connection with the Eucharist: “Estote quod videtis, et accipite quod estis … Be what you see and receive what you are” (s 272). He compared them to wheat, grown, harvested, ground, formed and baked through the agency of others, prepared for the Eucharist.
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