First of all, Happy Easter to all of you! May the joy and hope of the Risen Lord be with you and your family at this Easter time and always!
Last week, and in the next few weeks we will be all enjoying the sweetness of Easter trying to finished all the Easter Eggs we found, or those that were given. Although there are many traditions attached to Easter Celebration, the Easter Egg is one that still resounds in the Christian mind as a great symbol of Easter.
However, Eggs are not the only symbol of Easter. As you can imagine, the Paschal Lamb is also important as the Lily flower and the Easter bunny. I found a very good article by Fr. William Saunders, he deals with all these symbolic images in a very insightful way. I hope you enjoy it.
Many special Easter foods are due to the very strict Lenten fast during which time the faithful abstained from these foods or ingredients. Generally, the faithful abstained from all forms of meat (except fish in some areas of the Church) and animal products, including eggs, milk, butter, and fat. For example, Pope St. Gregory (d. 604), writing to St. Augustine of Canterbury, issued the following rule: "We abstain from flesh, meat, and from all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese, and eggs."
Decorated eggs dyed in bright colours are a sign of rejoicing. The Eastern European peoples even decorate the eggs with very intricate designs and religious artwork. The Easter egg symbolizes the resurrection: just as a little chick pecks its way out from the egg shell to emerge to new life, so Christ emerged from the tomb to new and everlasting life. The unbroken egg symbolizes the rock tomb of our Lord; and when broken, symbolizes that He has risen from the dead. The ancient Romans had a saying, "Omne vivum ex ovo" ("All life comes from an egg"); easily, one can see how such a saying would inspire the early Christians to use the egg as an appropriate symbol for the new and everlasting life won for us through our Lords passion, death, and resurrection.
According to a Ukranian folktale, on Good Friday when our Lord was crucified, a poor peddler went to the market in Jerusalem to sell his basket of eggs. He witnessed Jesus carrying His heavy cross through the streets, being taunted by the Romans and mocked by the crowd. The Romans pressed the peddler into service Simon of Cyrene and he left his basket by the roadside to help Jesus carry the cross. When he returned to retrieve his eggs, he noticed they were transformed, painted with bright colours and beautiful designs. Only after Easter and the resurrection of the Lord, did he realize that these eggs were a sign of rebirth for all of mankind. To this day, the Ukranian people decorate pysanky as part of their Easter celebration.
Lamb also has significance in the Easter celebration. A special Easter pastry is a cake shaped like a lamb. In the Middle Ages, lamb was the customary meat eaten on Easter, and was the main meat for the Holy Fathers Easter dinner. Remember that the Jews sacrificed a lamb for Passover during the time of Moses; because of the Passover sacrifice, the Jewish people were freed from slavery in Egypt and taken to the Promised Land. Christ is the new Paschal lamb, who was sacrificed for our sins and whose blood made the perfect and everlasting covenant; Christ has freed us from the slavery of sin and opened the gates to the true Promised Land of Heaven. Together, the mystery of the Last Supper, the sacrifice of Good Friday, and the resurrection of Easter form the new Passover the new Pasch.
to be continued next week...
Once again, I wish all of you a very happy and holy season of Easter.
Peace in Jesus