Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
28 Matthew 6–7
The other is the one-liner about the parishioner who only attends Mass at Easter so that he can check out his parish church without being noticed by his community.
I mentioned in an earlier column the way Easter, like Christmas, seems to have been overwhelmed by the commercial dimension of the event, with the Easter bunny taking centre stage. It’s also true that in survey after survey significant numbers of people respond that the two days that they attend Mass most frequently are indeed Easter and Christmas. As a child I didn’t need a survey to tell me this. It was immediately clear when I arrived at church on those days only to find that my usual spot was taken by unfamiliar people. As a youngster the crowds certainly had the effect of impressing the monumental importance of these days upon me. With Easter in particular I found the transformation of the church to be equally breathtaking, with the beautiful purple coverings being removed from the statues and the sense of excitement and import that characterized the mood in the church mirroring the transformational import of the time.
Easter is understandably a day of hope, a day that reminds us that anything is indeed possible, and that service — in this case the ultimate gift — is a blessing that makes us all better as people and communities. As St. Augustine described it: “And He departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here.” It occurred to me that this sense of thinking beyond oneself, emblematized by the ultimate act of giving that is celebrated by Good Friday, and the sense of stewardship and hope concretized by Easter, are also what underpin the contract we sign as educators at all levels of teaching.
Education is a gift almost without parallel, and those charged with its delivery have a responsibility that is both serious and celebratory. The recent record number of applications for the Bachelor of Education (Elementary) program at St. Mary’s University College reminds me of the keenness that continues to exist among our citizens to be of service in this most important of ways, and we are proud that the wider picture of what it is to be a teacher is represented by our degree. We don’t only teach the mechanics of the profession, though we do this well; but we also ensure that the broader issues are canvassed, that faith is on the table, and that social responsibility and civility underscore everything we teach.
Indeed, this is part of the institution’s defining mission as the first degree-granting liberal arts Catholic university college in Alberta; as the first Catholic post-secondary institution in the history of Western Canada to grant its own BA and BEd degrees, and as the only institution to offer a BEd degree program in Canada specifically directed to the formation of teachers for Catholic schools. In all things, we seek to inspire students “to lead with integrity, to meet the future with confidence, intellectual acuity, moral conviction and a passion for social justice and the common good.” These are the lessons of the greatest teacher of all, and the true meaning of Easter.
This article originally appeared in The Carillon, a publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary.