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Catholic Voice
  April 11, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

Easter: ‘Refocus our vision on the ultimate victory’

This time of Easter abounds with symbols that speak to us of new life, symbols common both in Church usage and in popular culture: water and light, Easter eggs and Easter bunnies. The very time of the year that Easter is celebrated, spring, is symbolic of its meaning: all of nature returns to life after the death of winter, and, since the spring equinox, the increasing light overtakes the darkness of the night.

One of the more endearing symbols of Easter is the Easter lily. Yes, it is a pretty flower that comes to life in springtime, but there is more to it than that. Its symbolic value stems from its shape, reminiscent of the shape of a trumpet.

Until the advent of modern means of communications in recent times, trumpets were used in wartime to give signals to soldiers on the battlefield, since their piercing timbre could cut through the noise of battle and across long distances. Of course, the trumpet also acquired prominence in ceremonial usage, as it still does today. With such evocative images of the trumpet, and with its exuberant sound so emblematic of the sense of triumph, this musical instrument came to be associated with the idea of victory after a great struggle.

The Easter lily, then, signals for us Christ’s victory over death. Early Christian imagery, in fact, often depicted Christ engaged in battle with Satan, the prince of darkness and lover of death, and emerging victorious, conquering death once for all and dispelling the darkness of sin. Thus the Exultet, the great Easter Proclamation sung at the Easter Vigil service, exhorts: “Sound the trumpet of salvation!”

Our hope of eternal life is renewed every year as we celebrate these Easter mysteries. When feeling burdened by so much distress, anxiety, tragedy or whatever manifestation darkness may take in our life, we must refocus our vision on the ultimate victory. Christ has already won eternal life for us; if we remain true to him, his victory will be ours.

With the confidence of this Easter joy, then, I wish to extend to you all, priests and priestly people of the Diocese of Oakland, a very happy Easter, with the wish and prayer that this holy season might renew in your hearts the joy that only Christ can give and no one can take away: the hope of eternal life with him, in his Kingdom of light, peace and grace.

The ancient Christian refrain rings true for us anew: “Christ reigns. Christ conquers. Christ rules.”

A blessed Easter to you all.

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