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WDTPRS for Easter Sunday 2002: Crisis in Perspective

This offering was originally written as a What Does The Prayer Really Say? column for Easter Sunday of 2002

WDTPRS is a featured column in the Catholic English language weekly The Wanderer and a regular feature of the Catholic Online Forum.


What Does the Prayer Really Say? Easter Sunday – Station: St. Mary Major


Once again the great cycle of the Church’s liturgical observance brings us through the forty day Lenten journey to the ultimate festal day of Easter, the feast of the Resurrection of the Lord. Hopefully we have all participated in the Sacred Triduum ceremonies. We saw the priesthood and Eucharist instituted at Holy Thursday. Christ in the Blessed Sacrament was reposed. The altar was stripped. The Passion was sung and the Cross kissed on Good Friday. Though we could receive Communion, we “fasted” from Mass. And since, technically, the Vigil Mass of Easter begins properly at midnight, the Church does not partake of Holy Communion for the entirety of Saturday: we thus arrive at the nadir, our final deprivation, in our preparation for Easter. With the Vigil, the flowers, instrumental music, white and gold vestments return. The Exsultet is intoned before the Paschal candle, burning bright in the shadowy church representing the Risen Lord. Alleluias ring out and the bells return from their silent exile. Baptismal water is blessed and Catechumens are received and baptized, some also being confirmed. For the first time they are given the Body and Blood of the Lord. On Easter during the day we hear the Sequence Victimae paschali laudes about Christ the Victor King's duel with Death.


LATIN (1970 & 2002 Missale Romanum): Sacrificia, Domine, paschalibus gaudiis exsultantes offerimus, quibus Ecclesia tua mirabiliter renascitur et nutritur.

LITERAL TRANSLATION: Exultant in joys of Easter, O Lord, we are offering now the sacrifices by which Thy Church is wondrously reborn and nourished.


Perhaps because of the incessant drumbeat being raised against the Church and her clergy in the media these days, I am struck by the imagery of the prayer in a special way this year. Our prayer clearly harkens to the Lenten fast that the Church has endured some weeks. Remember how Christ went into the desert and fasted for forty days and nights. “And when those days were over, he was famished” (Luke 4:2; Matthew 3:2) Consider how the Lord was sorely reduced by His fast. Already lean from a life of labor and perfect control of appetites for food, after forty days of eating virtually nothing, He must has been little more than skin and bones, and very weak. And all that time “He was with the wild beasts” (Mark 1:13). Jesus’ condition was grave enough from His fast that, after Satan had tempted Him, the Father sent His Holy angels to minister to Him (Mark 1:13; Matthew 4:11).

The Church is being forced into a new kind of fast through the scandals caused by wicked clergy. It is bad enough that the people of God have been cheated of their heritage for decades through a poor or even maliciously false implementation of the liturgical reforms mandated by the Second Vatican Council. It is bad enough that catechetics have been neglected or subverted. It is bad enough that seminaries were hijacked by ideologically driven dissenters. Now we are being brought as a Church to pay for the sins of bishops and priests who commit the abomination of sexual abuse of children and minors. While I loathe the way the media exaggerates the charges and inflates the numbers of men involved, I cannot help but be grateful in a reserved way. Jackals clean the land of rotting flesh, after all. They cull the sick of the herd. I think that we have at last now the chance to clean our house with a real spring cleaning. Just as Lent (which means “spring”) is our spiritual preparation through penance and mortifications and Easter is our Resurrection, so too as a Church we must now go into the desert and fast and suffer and pray. The enemy of the soul will tear at us, tempting us to vainglory, pride, desire for material comfort. We must go out to be “with the wild beasts” and watch the secular media tear at our ankles and flanks. In Robert Graves’ great historical novel of ancient Rome I, Claudius, the aging and moribund emperor, disgusted by the uncontrollable corruption around him finally croaks out, “Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.” And with the added incubation of the serpentine media they are indeed hatching out now like venomous cockatrices crawling from shells long guarded beneath episcopal feathers. Still, is it not ironic to the extreme that the liberal-leaning media pundits who scourge the Pope whenever he disciplines a bishop or theologian for straying into dissent or heteropraxis or whenever he clearly ...

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