ANASTASIA! HE IS RISEN!
The Easter greeting used in the Eastern Churches is, “Christ is risen.” To which the response is, “He is risen indeed!” Our Sister Maurus, who studied at the École Biblique in Jerusalem, would joyfully and enthusiastically, greet us after the Easter Vigil with, “Anastasia!”* To which we were expected to reply, “He is risen indeed.”
We are in the middle of the great feast of Easter, in the special time known as the Octave (Eight Days) of Easter, or Easter Week. We will continue celebrating for a full 50 days, but these first eight are extra special. Every day of this Octave is a solemn feast or solemnity in the church calendar. Each day during the Octave, we proclaim in the Gospel Acclamation: This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.
The Gospel readings for this week tell of the first appearances of the Risen Jesus. Monday, the women meet Jesus, Matthew 28:8-15. On Tuesday, we hear of Mary Magdalene’s meeting with Jesus in the garden, John 20:11-18. The Road to Emmaus is Wednesday’s Gospel, Luke 24:13-35. Thursday is Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples in the upper room (without Thomas), Luke 24:35-48. On Friday, the Apostles return to Galilee to fish, and Jesus appears to them on the shore, John 21:1-14. Saturday’s Gospel is a short summary of the Resurrection appearances we heard in other Gospels, Mark 16:9-15. Finally, the Octave of Easter closes with Jesus appearing to the Disciples and revealing Himself to a doubting Thomas, John 20:19-31.
Easter Week in the monastery is a joyful time. The chapel is filled with springtime flowers. The liturgies with their music and singing are beautiful and uplifting. The Easter bunny has visited, and we will have our fill of sweet treats and colorful eggs. We will continue to eat “juicy, rich food,” (Isaiah 25:6). At the end of Compline each night, we sing the beautiful Marian antiphon specific to the Easter Season, Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven Rejoice). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtvoDS7CFs8
Of course, we have had to make adjustments in our celebration this year. Like all of you, we are making do and getting creative. We do not shop as we usually do, so we make do with what we already have. Another community practice we have had to adjust is our annual Easter Monday Emmaus trip to our lodge on Smith Lake for a relaxing and fun day with each other. This year, the pandemic changed that to a picnic at home.
During these Easter days, I reflect on the scripture readings, our community traditions, and the ways in which we are adapting them. I think of Jesus’ appearances to Mary Magdalene in the garden, the apostles in the upper room, and the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and I ask myself, “Where do I see the Risen Christ during these Easter days?” and, “How do I share Easter joy with those around me?” As I recognize Jesus’ presence in the smiles, kind words and deeds of my Sisters, I become more aware of the many ways in which God blesses me – in spite of COVID-19.
Truly, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
*Actually, anastasis is the Greek word for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, literally meaning “to stand up again.” Unfortunately, Sister Maurus is no longer with us to ask where she encountered “Anastasia.”
By Sister Karen Ann Lortscher, OSB