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Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB


Abbot Peter NovecoskyThe Easter passage

The culture of the West associates new life with New Years Day. This is a time to make resolutions and plans to change for the better.

Unfortunately, our good intentions seldom last.

The Christian tradition associates new life with Easter. Easter eggs, the Easter bunny and the butterfly are superficial symbols of the meaning of the mystery we celebrate this week. It is the cross, the silence and the empty tomb that point to the deeper meaning of this feast. Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus as the Saviour of the world. Jesus is victorious over sin and death — that ancient enemy — St. Paul preaches.

This week’s Prairie Messenger carries a number of wonderful articles to explore the meaning of Easter today.

The following story strikes me as giving a good illustration of how we make the energy of Easter more personal. It comes from the Buddhist tradition.

Buddha was asked: “What have you gained from meditation?” He replied, “Nothing.” However, Buddha said, “Let me tell you what I lost: Anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.”

The New Testament stories of early Christians remind us that baptism didn’t change that much for them. It was no magic pill. They continued to struggle with anger, infidelity, lying, cheating and difficult relationships. Early attempts at communal living soon fell apart. St. Paul spent a lot of space in his letters trying to encourage his converts and followers to clean up their act, always noting that Christ’s victory gave them new energy.

While baptism was a pledge to change direction or take a new path, old habits clung closely and were hard to shake off. It’s not unlike our own experience.

Reflecting on the question to Buddha, we ask, “What does Easter bring us?” It’s not only gaining the glory and transformation of Easter morning. It also includes the pain and suffering of the cross. As the Buddha says, it’s what we lose: Anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death. The more we lose, the more we can receive and gain.

Students protest gun culture

South of the border, students are marching. They want to change a gun culture that is hard for Canadians to understand but which is engrained in the psyche of many Americans.

The students are protesting the Feb. 14 massacre of students in the Parkland, Florida, high school.

In a feature series on gun violence in the National Catholic Reporter, teacher Colman McCarthy wrote: “I was immensely pleased when a fair number of my students defied threats of being ‘punished’ for skipping school to join 1,300 others at an anti-gun rally at the U.S. Capitol. One of my seniors, Olivia Juliano, carried a large and colourful sign saying ‘Peace Is Cheaper,’ a visual published and valorized in both The Washington Post and New York Times.”

Student Emma Stewart wrote, “I can’t wait to spend some time outside the United States to gain some perspective and inspiration on how to change the minds of our fearful, untrusting community. We need to better know our history to understand and recognize this isn’t the way to go.”

Days before the Parkland tragedy, the American Journal of Medicine published a World Health Organization study on American gun violence. Ninety-one per cent of boys and girls under 14 killed by guns lived in the United States. It’s gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher compared to 22 other high-income nations. Every day an average of 24 children are shot.

Indeed, we pray Americans get a new perspective. — PWN