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Oblate Blog: April 4, 2011: Laetare Sunday

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Laetare Sunday, half-way through Lent

As I write this blog today on Sunday, April 3, we are today half-way through Lent. Today, the fourth Sunday of Lent is Laetare Sunday. The Latin word Laetare means "to rejoice." Do I have a good reason to rejoice today? Have I come closer to Jesus Christ thus far in Lent? These are good questions for us to look at today.

In his Rule, St. Benedict devotes chapter 49 to the observance of Lent. Here he tells us: "In other words, let each one deny himself some food, drink, sleep, needless talking, idle jesting, and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing." And so it seems to me that St. Benedict wants us to observe Lent so we can truly look forward and be ready to celebrate "our new life" at Easter and to do this with joy.

A good question might be: "Why do I look forward to Easter?" Perhaps I look forward to Easter primarily because it is the end of Lent. We can then go back to our habits of eating, drinking, talking and whatever else, with Lent behind us and out of the way. Easter is a joyful feast. Let’s take a moment to look at why Easter should be such a happy feast for each one of us.

In an address that our Holy Father Benedict XVI gave in 2010, shortly after Easter, he said:

"In these days, in fact, the Church celebrates the mystery of the Resurrection and experiences the great joy that stems from the Good News of Christ’s victory over evil and death….In the whole history of the world, this is the "Good News" par excellence, it is the Gospel proclaimed and passed over the centuries, from generation to generation."

He goes on to say: "The Lord’s Easter is the supreme and insuperable act of the power of God. It is an absolutely extraordinary event, the most beautiful and mature fruit of the ‘mystery of God.’"

For us to fully appreciate the feast of Easter we too must enter into the PASCHAL MYSTERY, the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. We must learn to say NO to our desires and inclinations at times in order to die with Christ that we may also rise with him. As St. Paul reminds us in chapter 6 of his Letter to the Romans: "For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection." In other words, if we die to sin, if we experience the Paschal Mystery, we shall also rise with Christ.

In chapter 15, of St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians he says: But, if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty too, your faith.’

Pope John Paul II said the following about Easter:

"The Easter event—the bodily resurrection of Christ—pervades the life of the whole Church. It gives to Christians everywhere strength at every turn in life. It makes us sensitive to humanity with all its limitations, sufferings, and needs. The resurrection has immense power to liberate, to uplift, to bring about justice, to effect holiness, to cause joy."

Here are some things for us to think about as we approach Easter in just over two more weeks. Easter is indeed a feast of great joy, but only if we prepare during this Lenten season. There are still three weeks remaining, let us all seek to die to sin, and to die to ourselves so that Christ may truly live in us. Then the words, HE IS RISEN, will mean so much to us on Easter Sunday.