In his famous poem, “The Waste Land,” T.S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month.” At the time, he was reflecting on the social disillusionment and despondency in the wake of the First World War. It was a fearful world, yearning desperately for any sign of redemption. It is considered by many to be the most influential poem of the twentieth century. Eliot’s despair, however, was shortlived. A few years later, he embraced the Christian faith with joy.
For those who exercise good stewardship of their Christian faith, this April is the happiest, most joyful of months, for it ushers in the great liturgical season of our hope and joy. During the Easter season, which extends 50 days, from March 31 to Pentecost Sunday, May 19, Christian stewards are exhorted to celebrate and be joyful, for our Savior lives.
At the Easter Vigil, all the great symbols are there: darkness, light, fire, water. The Vigil begins in darkness; not a darkness to be ignored, but a darkness in which we realize where we would be without the light of Christ, a darkness that reveals much about our world, our own sinfulness, the darkness that sometimes envelopes our own lives and even shrouds our own hearts. But then, the great fire of the Vigil is lit, a fire which consumes the darkness, and the procession into the church reminds us of the light and strength provided by the community of the faithful and the saving light of Christ. Indeed, Saint Paul maintains that we are stewards of this great light. We remember the waters of baptism during the Vigil as we renew our baptismal vows. The Vigil brings into our community those newly baptized who proceed joyfully with us into April.
As Christian stewards, we now leave behind the penitential preparation of Lent. We may feel strengthened by our Lenten commitments, or we may feel disappointment in our efforts. Leave that behind. Come instead into the glory of this April, come into the garden with Mary, and wait in eagerness and confusion and fear until you hear the wonderful sound of the Risen Lord pronouncing your name. He may ask you, as he asked Mary, “Why do you weep?” Indeed, the time of sorrow is ended. This April is the most glorious of months. Christ is risen! Alleluia!
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