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 also the time of the worldwide catastrophic 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic. 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 short-lived. A few years later, he embraced the Christian faith with joy.
For those who exercise good stewardship of their faith, the month of April can be the 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 Easter Sunday, April 4, to Pentecost Sunday, May 23, Christian stewards are exhorted to celebrate and be joyful, for our Savior lives and remains with us and makes his presence felt most especially during these times of pandemic.
At the Easter Vigil, all the great symbols were present: 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, reminding 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. We may continue to feel stress and anxiety in the face of COVID-19 and its variants. But let us allow Christ’s presence to strengthen us as we experience the glory of this April, come into the garden with Mary Magdalene, and wait in eagerness and confusion and fear until we hear the sound of the Risen Lord calling our name. He may ask us, as the angels asked Mary Magdalene, “Why do you weep?” Indeed, the time of sorrow is ended. The time for receiving the strength and resolve and determination of the Holy Spirit is here. This April is the most glorious of months. Christ is risen! Alleluia!