April 25 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

11-POPE-FRANCIS-EASTER-VIGI

The joy of Easter is extended by the Papal Canonisations

The SCO editorial.

Pope Francis, our bishops and clergy guided us well through the joyful celebration of Easter to show us the way forward. Yet the Faithful who observe the Easter triduum run the gauntlet of emotion from the first Eucharist at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday through the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ betrayal, the Way of the Cross and the Crucifixion before the Resurrection. Easter, the most important festival in the Christian calendar, comes after the Lenten period of preparation and there is good reason why we need such a lengthy period to prepare.

While the meaning of Easter is accessible to Catholics of all ages, unlike Christmas, the story of Jesus’ death and Resurrection is not a PG child-friendly tale. The happy ending is ours: Salvation and life everlasting. And while Jesus ultimately rises from the dead, His suffering and death for our sins is central to his Passion and never far away from our minds during this year’s sun-filled Easter celebrations, or any year’s. For our Church is truly a suffering Church.

This fact makes our Christian witness all the more important. While secular society would have us believe that the numbers of the faithful are irreversibly falling—in spite of half-hearted protestations on Christianity’s central role in the UK from Prime Minister David Cameron last week—reality is very different. In some parishes there may have been seats to be had on Holy Thursday, but by Good Friday many of us saw that was clearly no longer the case. Our role now is to keep and grow our Easter congregations.

With our Easter joy still fresh, this coming weekend’s double Papal Canonisations extends our spiritual celebrations through to Divine Mercy Sunday and there couldn’t be a more appropriate day for Blessed John Paul II to become a saint. For those present when John Paul II spoke to Scotland in 1982—at Murrayfield, Bellahouston and the small gathering at St Joseph’s, Rosewell—to know now we were in the presence of a saint is overwhelming. Yet we must not allow our own experiences to overshadow the magnitude of the Canonisation also of Good Pope John. For the life of John XXIII is also being honoured on Sunday.

The Catholic Church’s recognition of saints is not without its critics, both inside and outside the Church. That is why this week, in addition to Bishop John Keenan’s article on John Paul II, and Hugh McLoughlin’s thoughts on John XXII, the SCO also begins a new series by Harry Schnitker. The Journeys of Faith series looks at those who have taken less than traditional paths to recognition in the Catholic Church.

 

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