At Easter we celebrate the victory of the Cross

At Easter we celebrate the victory of the Cross

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You, because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

This year Easter Sunday falls on April 1st which in popular culture is April Fools’ Day, associated with pranks and jokes that catch a person off guard. When that happens the person playing the prank shouts “April Fool” to the person who was caught off guard by the prank. There is an old Russian Orthodox tradition that the day after Easter is dedicated to telling jokes as a way of imitating the joke God pulled on Satan at the Resurrection of Jesus.

It can be said that death was caught off guard on that first Easter morn when Christ broke its hold and rose from its clutches. God made a fool of death at the Resurrection of Jesus. Death, a result of the sin of Adam and Eve and inherited by their descendants, met its match in Jesus of Nazareth and was made foolish by Him. Death could not shackle God who on the Cross fully entered into its darkness only to break its chains.

For Christians the Cross is the sign of the victory of God over sin and its consequences such as death. On the Cross salvation was achieved by the sacrifice of Christ whose almighty power beat back death. No tomb could contain God. Christ, who was sacrificed to death on the Cross, rose out of its bleakness. His tomb is empty and His Cross stands proud as the sign of the victorious offering of Jesus Christ.

The sign of the Cross has a place of pride in our prayers which begin and end with its sign; the sign of the Cross accompanies the celebration of each Sacrament; the sign of the Cross is placed on our buildings; it is worn around our necks and the Cross is prominent in its placement in the sanctuary of our Churches. There it shows the connection between the sacrifice that takes place on the Altar of the sanctuary and the sacrifice that took place on the Cross. Christ’s sacrifice is made present and remembered on the Altar. The outpouring of divine life and our sharing in it take place at the Altar. We look TO the Cross for life; we look AT the Cross for life: God’s offering of the life of Jesus for our salvation.

The Church has provided clear instructions that a Cross is to be placed in the sanctuary near the Altar and it is to show the Crucified Savior. During the liturgical changes after the Second Vatican Council some parishes placed an image of the Risen Christ in the sanctuary. While such an image has religious value, it neither represents the bitter sacrifice of the Cross nor God’s offering on the Cross. That offering is repeated in the Eucharist. The Church instructs that the image of the Crucified Lord is to have pride of place in the area of the Altar. “The Cross with the image of Christ Crucified is a reminder of Christ’s paschal mystery. It draws us into the mystery of suffering and makes tangible our belief that our suffering when united with the passion and death of Christ leads to redemption” (Built of Living Stones, USCCB #91).

I have asked that by the first Sunday of Advent 2018 each parish be in compliance with the liturgical regulations regarding the image of the Crucified Savior on the Cross. Christ entered death to be raised from it. The Crucifixion led to the Resurrection. It is death to life, it is life but life after death. That sacrificial offering is made present on the Altar at each celebration of the Holy Eucharist and we partake in it. The nearness of the Cross in the sanctuary is a vivid reminder of the very offering made present through the prayer of the Holy Eucharist and our participating in it.

At Easter we celebrate the victory of the Cross. A victory God has won for us. At Easter we glory in the Cross because on it our salvation was achieved. Sin and death were made fools of by the victory that was had over them by the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Saint Leo the Great in the fifth century wrote about the Cross: “O wondrous power of the Cross! O unspeakable glory of the passion which became the Lord’s tribunal, the world’s judgement and the power of the Crucified! From your Cross You draw all things to Yourself, O Lord! Your Cross is the font of all blessings, the source of all graces and through it believers receive strength in return for weakness, glory in return for shame, life in return for death.”

May the Blessings of the Crucified Lord be with each of you and your loved ones during this Holy Easter Season when we celebrate for 50 days the victory of God on the Cross.

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You, because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

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