April 28, 2006


The lightness of Easter joy

“The Book of Revelation’s vision of heaven expresses what we see by faith at Easter: the Lamb who was slain lives. Since he lives, our weeping comes to an end and is transformed into laughter.” (cf. Rev 5:4f). —Pope Benedict XVI

When was the last time you experienced your Christian faith as something that eased the burdens of daily living? When was the last time you heard or read something about the Catholic Church that provoked lighthearted laughter? Was your celebration of Easter 2006 truly a time of joy—or was it simply one more thing you had to do before getting back to the dreaded business of every day?

We hope that this Easter season is a time of joy and laughter for all of us—individually, as families and parish communities, and as an archdiocesan and universal Church. There is too much “heaviness” in our lives. Too much grief and sorrow and anxiety. Too much bad news. Too much sadness and sin. We need more laughter. More lightheartedness. More joy.

Especially during the past five years (ironically the first years of the hope-filled third millennium of Christianity), we have been burdened with lots of heavy stuff: Terrorism. Scandals. Financial burdens. The priest shortage. Problems with parish staffing. Divisions between red states and blue states. Culture wars. Immigration conflicts. Christianity vs. Islam vs. Judaism. The list goes on ... and on ... and on.

Joy is a Christmas theme. It is the profound greeting of the angels to the shepherds, the announcement of glad tidings and hope for the future. Joy is also an Easter theme. It is the disciples’ experience of the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, in the upper room and in Galilee. And joy is what we will experience at Pentecost as the whole world is opened up by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Church is born, in joyful hope and anticipation of the kingdom that is here now and yet to come.

Lord, save us from taking ourselves and our problems too seriously. Save us from the kind of heaviness that prevents us from loving others and serving you. Help us to open our eyes and to see by Easter faith the wonders of your creation and the triumph of love over death.

As Pope Benedict tells us, through the eyes of Easter faith, “we actually do glimpse heaven, and we see God’s gentleness, which is neither indifference nor weakness but power of the highest order. It is in this way, and only thus, that we see the mysteries of creation and catch a little of the song of angels—indeed, we can try to join with them somewhat in singing the Alleluia of Easter Day. Since we see the Lamb, we can laugh and give thanks!” Amen. Alleluia.

— Dan Conway

(Daniel Conway is a member of the editorial committee of the board of directors of
Criterion Press Inc.)

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