Meditations and Prayers for Lent and Easter

Introduction: Easter and Lent

by Victor Hoagland, C.P.

Note: 2009 readings are from the "B" cycle of the Lectionary

Easter is Christianity’s most ancient and important yearly feast. By the 3rd century a preparatory season of forty days — Lent — was joined to this holy time.

What do these seasons celebrate?

Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, “powerful in word and deed”, who was seized and crucified by his enemies during the Passover feast in Jerusalem. On Easter morning he rose from the dead, appearing to his followers and assuring them of God’s favor. Easter recalls these events yearly.

A New Passover

From the outset Christians recognized God’s hand in what happened. Early on Jesus’ followers, taught by the Risen Lord himself, interpreted his death and resurrection in the light of the Exodus story. “Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.” (1 Corinthians 5:7)

The ancient Jewish Pasch was fulfilled in Christ. The lamb sacrificed by the Jews in Egypt was a sign from God of their redemption from slavery. Jesus’ sacrificed life now offered all people an escape from death and a way to freedom.

Jesus, a new Moses, would lead a new people, his church, through desert trials to a heavenly kingdom. On their journey he offered them the water of eternal life and bread from heaven. He would be with his church always.

Believe and be baptized

“Believe and be baptised” was the message his disciples announced to people throughout the world. Their stories of Jesus’ life and teaching, the “Good News” that was his gospel, brought people everywhere to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer. And they baptised those who believed in water and the Holy Spirit.

Today Lent and Easter are times for hearing the “Good News” once more and celebrating the sacraments that are signs of the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. They remind us of our great journey with Christ. Once more these seasons call us to believe and recall our baptismal life.

The Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Lenten season from Ash Wednesday to the Mass of Holy Thursday. The Easter feast is celebrated from Holy Thursday evening till Easter Sunday, then through the Easter season which lasts till the feast of Pentecost.

May the Passion of Jesus Christ Be Always in Our Hearts

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