This past Sunday was the most important holy festival in the Christian calendar. Set by the Council of Nicaea to fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox, (1) it celebrates the Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour and is variously called Pascha (the Christian Passover), Easter and Resurrection Sunday. The previous week was Holy Week, which began with Palm Sunday, the commemoration of Jesus’ formal triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey in fulfilment of prophecy, and which ended with the Great Paschal Triduum. On the evening of Maundy Thursday we remembered the Last Supper, in which the Lord washed His disciples’ feet, instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and was betrayed by Judas leading directly to the event remembered on Good Friday, His Crucifixion at the hands of ungodly men in which He bore the sins of the world for which offered up His own shed blood and death as Atonement. Good Friday was followed by Holy Saturday, the day of the Easter Vigil in memory of the period of His body’s entombment and His descent as Conqueror into the underworld where He smashed the gates of Hell to smithereens. The Vigil, the Triduum, and all of Holy Week found their culmination in Easter itself and the new dawn of the Resurrection.
Did your church choose to mark this Easter by meeting at midnight, with the church draped in black and its air thick with sulfurous incense, and chanting obscenities within an inverted pentagram while raping and killing a naked virgin on an altar before a statue of Baphomet?
I very much suspect that for most of you – I would hope for all of you – that the answer is “no”. Nevertheless, I ask this offensive question in order to make a point.
If your church turned people away from the celebration of the Resurrection, limited those who it permitted to attend its Easter services, told those that did come that they had to cover their faces, that they could not sing Alleluia in praise of the Risen One, at least without wearing a mask, forbade hugs and handshakes and any other form of normal human contact, and told the majority of its parishioners that they would have to watch the few allowed to meet on the internet and pretend that they were participating by following along at home, this was no less odious a blasphemous mockery than the kind of despicable rite described above.
Churches that have enacted these so-called “safety protocols” have done so at the behest of public health officials. In other words they have deemed, contrary to the Apostles, it better to obey man than to obey God. They have chosen to walk not by faith but by fear – fear of the very enemy that Christ taught His disciples not to fear.
Of the enemies that assail mankind, body and soul, the last that shall be destroyed, St. Paul tells us, is death. While it is the last enemy to be destroyed it is the also the first to have been defeated. The chapter in which St. Paul declares death to be the last enemy to be destroyed is the fifteenth of his first epistle to the Corinthians, a chapter devoted to the connection between Christ’s defeat of death in His Own Resurrection and the final destruction of death in the Final Resurrection. The Christian believer is promised repeatedly throughout the Scriptures that he will share in the resurrection life of His Saviour, both in the sense of spiritual regeneration in this life and in the sense of bodily resurrection on the Last Day. The Christian’s hope of his own future resurrection is built upon his faith in Christ and His historical Resurrection.
Since Easter is the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, His historical triumph over death, which we are to trust in as our own triumph over death and the foundation of our hope of future resurrection, to celebrate Easter while cowering behind a facemask is to deny by our actions the faith we profess with our lips and to make a grotesque mockery of it. These masks are symbols of irrational fear generated by media hype over a new virus/respiratory disease and of how that fear has caused us to give medical doctors and public health officials the kind of trust and obedience which we owe to God alone. Giving these medical doctors and public health officials our trust and obedience is tantamount to placing our faith in the spirit that motivates and energizes them. Since they have declared commerce, including commerce in narcotics and liquor but excluding small, locally-owned, family retailers and restaurants, to be essential, while forbidding family gatherings and worship services for the larger part of a year as non-essential, and have been holding our constitutional rights and freedoms and the resumption of normal, human, social existence hostage in order to blackmail us all into allowing them to inject us with an experimental new form of gene therapy developed from research using the cells of butchered babies, it is fairly obvious who that spirit is don’t you think?
The Christ Who rose from the grave on the first Easter ascended to the right hand of His Father. One day He will return. When He came the first time, He did so in humility, to be our Saviour. The second time He will come in glory “to judge both the quick and the dead”. On that day, when the blood of His enemies flows as high as the horses’ bridles, what can those who are now forbidding participation in His pubic worship, fellowship in His Church, and denying access to His Sacraments to all but those who register in advance and agree to cover their faces in fear, expect to receive from Him? Shall they be welcomed to partake of the Wedding Supper of the Paschal Lamb? Or shall they be forced to drink from the cup filled with the vintage of the winepress of God’s wrath?
Christ is Risen!
(1)The Resurrection occurred on the Sunday after the Jewish Passover. The Jewish Passover fell on the Ides (the full moon at the middle of a lunar month) of Nisan, also called Aviv, the spring month in the Jewish calendar. Hence the method of calculating its anniversary.