Glorious news proclaimed in the Eucharist

By Corinne Winter

Recently, I have been seeing ads for the movie “A Wrinkle in Time,” a remake of an earlier movie based on the award-winning novel by Madeleine L’Engle. The story involves a phenomenon by which different worlds cross as time warps or wrinkles, bringing present and future into brief close contact. As I was seeing these ads, I was also preparing for the diocesan Ministry Formation Program (MFP) course on the Eucharist. The convergence of these two with the approach of the Easter Triduum drew my reflections to one of my favorite moments of the Easter Vigil: the singing of the Exultet. The words of that moving hymn proclaim that through the work of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in the saving love of our God, past, present and future meet in much more than a fleeting and apparently accidental moment.

Corinne Winter

The words of the Easter proclamation include:

“This is the night
…when you lead our forebears from slavery
…when Christ broke the prison bonds of sin
…when things of heaven are wed to things of earth…”

The glorious news, which is proclaimed and celebrated in every Eucharist as well as at the Vigil, is that God’s saving work overcomes all barriers, even those of time and space, and those between heaven and earth, between time and eternity. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we stand at the foot of the cross, at the door of the empty tomb, on the road to Emmaus. We also stand united with all peoples, of all times and places … with the saints whose lives inspire us, with those hearing the Easter proclamation in all parts of the world and in all circumstances, with immigrants and refugees, with rich and poor, with people of all political persuasions, with those yet to be born. We are touched as well by the ultimate victory of Christ, the communion with God which all of creation is called to share. It is much more than a wrinkle in time; it is the utter transcendence that gives meaning to all time.

During the Easter Vigil, our sense of awe may be heightened by many of the sensory factors that mark our celebration. The church is darkened, with a few spots of light focusing our attention. We smell incense, and perhaps smoke from a wood fire from which the Easter candle has been lit. We are at the end of the Lenten season which is marked by austerity in church music and decoration, in our chosen acts of discipline, and even, at least in this part of the world, by the gray tones of earth not yet giving way to spring. Now we may be dressed more festively. We may be anticipating gathering with family and friends for good conversation and good food. Now flowers surround the altar and our new alleluia is already on the tip of our tongues.

Our awe at God’s gift of salvation may be more palpable as we celebrate Easter, but we ought to breathe it in deeply and resolve to carry it with us as best we can. Especially at times when the power of sin may strike us most powerfully, we need to have the good news of Easter planted firmly within us. It is good news for all, and we who hear it are charged with spreading it by word and deed.

(Corinne Winter is a professor-emeritus of St. Ambrose University, Davenport.)

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