April 4, 2021
Marlene Milasus, OSB, Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth, NJ
When I do a talk on the liturgy, and especially on Eucharist or on the Church year, I usually begin by asking the participants to reflect silently for a few minutes on some significant turning point in their lives. I don’t ask them to share their turning points, but I do ask them to consider that a real turning point has three qualities: 1) it takes you irrevocably from an old life to a new life; 2) it grows as time passes, taking on new and deeper meaning; 3) it can be celebrated over and over, perhaps publicly, always personally, even if the celebration is simply the memory that “on this day…..(fill in the blank) happened.”
What we celebrate today, on Easter Sunday, is the culmination of the last four days, beginning with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, continuing through the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, moving quietly through the seeming emptiness of Holy Saturday, and finally climaxing at the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday celebrations. We celebrate our own Passover in the passing of Jesus through death to new, resurrected life, as we renew our baptismal commitment. If we reside in a parish, we have the delightful opportunity to witness the initiation of new members into the Christian community – a turning point for them, and a renewal of our own.
Easter marks the definitive turning point not only for each of us as fully initiated Christians, but for the history of the world…whether the world knows it or not. The Resurrection of Jesus changed everything, permanently and irrevocably. The question is how deeply we are willing to enter into the ongoing process of that change.
As we delight in the fragrance of Easter lilies, the spring song of birds, the enjoyment (even if socially-distanced) of the company of others at festive liturgies and meals, let’s remember that this turning point is serious. It’s taken us to a new life; its meaning increases and challenges us day by day; it invites us to celebrate it again and again, not only during this sacred time of the year, but every day as we try to nudge our pandemic-weary world to something newer and better. Perhaps we are all being invited to lives that are quieter, simpler, more contented with the here-and-now, more aware that everything we do has an impact on everything and everyone else. We are gifted with Jesus’ new life so that we can in turn pass, with Jesus, in a daily dying-and-rising that enlarges our spirits and invites God’s beloved world to the same new life.
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Sister Marlene Milasus is a member of Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth, NJ, St Walburga Monastery. Currently, she is serving as community treasurer and liturgist. She works in a monastery retreat program and is a licensed New Jersey boiler operator!