Hints of spring and Easter

By Patricia Kasten | The Compass | March 15, 2022

There are three times in the liturgies of Lent when the somber nature of the season breaks into joy and glory, hinting at Easter to come.

The first is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin and foster father of Jesus, on March 19. Joseph is also the protector of the church. On his feast, the purple of Lent vanishes in favor of white. The Gloria and Alleluia, both gone during Lent, also make appearances.

The same is true on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. This is a feast of the Lord and vestments are white. We sing joyfully that day because the Annunciation reminds us of the moment when the bridegroom (Jesus) first came to us. As the Lord himself said, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” (Mk 2:19).

The third hint of Easter comes March 27, the Fourth Sunday of Lent. Laetare Sunday is one of two Sundays each year when we see rose-colored vestments. They signify joy, and we are called to “rejoice.”

Laetare Sunday is the halfway point of Lent. (March 24 is the exact midpoint of Lent this year, but the church celebrates on Sunday.) For centuries, the Mass’s entrance antiphon (the Introit) proclaimed, “Laetare Jerusalem” or “Rejoice, O Jerusalem” in Latin (Is 66:10). The very next line in Isaiah promises God’s love as like that of a mother for her children. A joyful thought indeed.

These three events remind us that — even though we’re in Lent — we are an Easter people. The victory has been won and God’s glory breaks through. Easter is a reality that has come for all time. Jesus has risen. However, while new life is still breaking into the world, sometimes we only see it in glimmers.

The Gospel last Sunday (March 13) was the Transfiguration. Christ’s glory was fully revealed to his disciples. This event happened between two predictions of Jesus’ passion (Lk 9: 22 and Lk 9:44-45). The glory broke through, even as death approached Jesus. Just as those three disciples experienced them, we are called to see hope and joy shining forth in the midst of Lent.

Our world needs less Lent and more hope and joy. Perhaps it always has, but things have been more grimm these past few Lenten seasons. Yet the glimmers of Easter hope and joy surround us — from smaller things like more fish fries at parishes to big things like all the aid being gathered for Ukraine. Then there’s the money in the Rice Bowls for Catholic Relief Services. Some of that, 25%, stays right here in our diocese, offering glimmers of hope and joy. Last year, local Rice Bowl grants totaled $12,000.

Your dimes and dollars add up and glimmers of Easter shine through. It can take so little to reveal Easter in a grim Lenten world. Nor does that take huge feats. Just do what you know how to do. Jim and Sandie Fitzgerald, dairy farmers in Manitowoc County (see Rural Life insert), know dairy. Over the years, they’ve donated countless gallons of milk to Peter’s Pantry in Manitowoc. That has revealed countless glimmers of Easter joy and hope to so many children and families. What do you know how to do that can reveal Easter?

On April 15, the most solemn day of the church year, we will be asked to contribute to the Pontifical Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land. This annual collection supports the Holy Land Franciscans who care for 23 parishes, offer scholarships to hundreds of students and provide housing for the Christian families who are a minority in the region of the Holy Land. All it takes are a few more dollars in the basket to send glimmers of hope shining across the world.

Think of the glimmers of hope you’ve seen recently. How have you added to those? How could you add more? And try something new, too. Just remember: the glory of Easter breaks through any darkness. To see it, all we need to do is what Jesus’ disciples have always done: Follow him. After all, he is risen indeed.

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