Posted by: Fr Chris | April 17, 2017

Bright Monday, Dyngus Day, and Emmaus

We continue with both the first chapter of St.  John and the first chapter of the Book of Acts today in the Byzantine Catholic Church. We go back to the beginning of the Gospels, and to the beginning of the Church following Jesus’ ascension into heaven.  The Gospel  is the start of it all, the Incarnation of the Eternal Word of God, the Logos, as Jesus and His ministry on earth. The Book of Acts is the start of the Church’s life as the apostles and disciples prepared for Pentecost.In our Divine Office, the psalms are not read this week, only the paschal hours are sung.  There is no fasting, and we are actually encouraged to enjoy meat, eggs, and dairy – and in North America, especially chocolates! The emphasis is on carrying the joy of Pascha.

In eastern Europe  (Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary), today the men throw water on the women, from a legend in which Peter and the apostles thought that the holy women were hysterical when they reported the resurrection, only to have Peter and John return from the empty tomb, saying that the women were right. (And it is also a way that a girl knows if a young man likes her, and vice versa!)

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Tomorrow the opposite happens – the holy women got their revenge on the apostles and the men had to apologize, answering “Indeed He is risen” to the women’s cries of “Christ is risen!”  In Poland – and back home in Buffalo, NY – there is the additional  practice Dyngus Day, with the boys striking girls with the pussy willows blessed on Palm Sunday, followed by feasting and dancing the night away.

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Dyngus Day procession in East Buffalo 

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Dyngus Day fills the Central Terminal in Buffalo 

In the Roman rite, today is the Emmaus gospel, in which Luke and Cleophas encounter

the Risen Lord in the Eucharist, at the breaking of the bread, something we observe tomorrow in the Eastern Churches. In German-speaking countries, today is a national holiday and a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics. It’s the custom to take a long walk alone after hearing the Emmaus Gospel in church – usually in Germany, Switzerland and Austria you hike in groups. But not for Emmaus – this is a time when people go off alone in a park or the woods or the mountains to personally  and quietly meditate on the risen Lord and His presence in our daily  lives.

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Rejoice in the risen Christ, by all means. Have fun this  week as much as you can. Eat and be happy. But also take time to meet this same Lord quietly, in the stillness of our hearts, and to meet Him this year in a new way, thanking Him for His life-giving Passion, and for His endless mercy in receiving us back when we repent from our sins, and finally praising Him for coming to us in the breaking of the bread, this magnificent mystery, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, where He presents Himself to us over and over, at altars around the world, because of His enormous love for us.

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Decades of encountering our Risen Lord in the Holy Eucharist 

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