Of Glittery Flowers, Cute Little Birds, and Easter
This time I’m batting .500. On Ash Wednesday, I bemoaned this year’s lack of broadcasting the Lenten penitential regulations which Catholics have observed through the centuries. (I noticed, however, no dearth of announcements that St. Patrick’s Day would be abstinence-free.) Now let’s turn to Easter.
I am on almost every known religious mailing list. They all want my money, investments, to be remembered in my will. Many of these fishers of dollars have sent Easter greetings/mass cards. Easter. The glorious Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. So why are half the cards I have received adorned with glittery flowers and cute little birds on the cover? Sure, the inside of a few may say Christ is Risen, but the outside is what catches the eye. Easter blessings and all that.
Where did the picture of the empty tomb go?
The naked cross?
The risen and triumphant Lord on these covers?
What is Easter without the Resurrection?
I get the symbolism of the eggs and the springtime theme — renewal, rebirth, some connection to Christ’s rising. But when you want to share with others the joy of the Resurrection, to remind them of our Holy Faith, you don’t want symbols, you want the real visual reminders. You need the visual reminders for kids on their own who are bombarded with secularism, for grandkids to kindle their faith.
And it is about keeping the faith for all of us, make no mistake about it. We all need reminders and our faith traditions (even sending cards) are a big help in the long run, even if problematic at the time.
When our kids were young, we’d make it a point to attend the Holy Saturday Food Blessing at my husband’s childhood parish, St. Constantine Ukrainian Catholic Church in Minneapolis. Rounding up 5 kids was no picnic. Afterwards we would go visit grandma and the kids would stuff themselves with homemade poppy seed bread. We didn’t understand a word at the Food Blessing. It was in Ukrainian, with the priest blessing everything — cheeses, meats, breads, butter — all interspersed with polyphonic singing of a refrain about Christ rising and us asking for mercy. I had to ask for a translation. Huge baskets of sausage and ham, gorgeous Easter eggs (pysanky), butter lambs, and home-baked breads were sprinkled with holy water and prayed over.
The kids didn’t appreciate it very much. The small school auditorium was too crowded and smelly.
Things have changed. As parents themselves now, they have joined this Easter tradition voluntarily with their own kids. They have adopted the customs they made fun of in the past, stuffing food baskets with aromatic sausage, ham, eggs and bread. Now with their children they encourage kissing the shroud on display in the church. One daughter embroidered a pascha cover for her food basket, proclaiming Khrystos Voskres! The middle son learned how to make pysanky and travels 150 miles with his family for this tradition.
This is the visual, this is tradition, this is only done because of the empty tomb, the naked cross, the risen and triumphant Lord.
So the glittery Easter cards will be sent to the circular file. They’re pretty spring celebrations but not reminders of our faith, they aren’t part of the real meaning of the Resurrection I want to share with family and friends:
ХрнсТос Воскрес! (Khrystos Voskres!) – Christ is Risen!
Воїстину Воскрес! (Voyistynu Voskres!) – Truly He is Risen!
This article, Of Glittery Flowers, Cute Little Birds, and Easter is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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