From the Chapel — April 17: When is a Friday not a Friday?

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Our Sunday Visitor chapel. Scott Richert photo

Scott Richert “From the Chapel” is a series of short, daily reflections on life and faith in a time of uncertainty. As people across the world cope with the effects of the coronavirus — including the social isolation necessary to combat its spread — these reflections remind us of the hope that lies at the heart of the Gospel.

We had pasties for dinner tonight. For those unfamiliar with this gourmet treat from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a pasty is a mixture of chopped or ground beef, potatoes, onions, and (in its original form) rutabagas, baked inside a flaky half-moon crust. Pasties have their origin in Cornwall, England, which is why they are sometimes referred to as Cornish pasties, and they came to the U.P. along with Cornish miners during the copper rush of the 1840’s.

The best pasties, though, are made (in my humble opinion) by the descendants of Finnish miners, and the recipe Amy uses is from Lehto’s, a little pasty stand seven miles outside of St. Ignace, just across the Mackinac Bridge on the eastern end of da U.P.

By now you’re probably wondering what my point could possibly be. For most of our married life, and all of our children’s lives, we have observed the traditional (and still customary) abstinence from meat on Fridays, in remembrance of Christ’s death. We occasionally substitute some other form of penance, especially if we’re traveling (not much of that going on these days) or having dinner at the house of some friends (ditto), but for the most part, we’ve been doing Meatless Mondays long before they were cool. Except on Fridays. And not to save the earth. Except spiritually.

But Easter Friday — that’s a different story. Literally. It’s a story of joy, of mercy, of salvation, of resurrection. This is no time for penance. And so we not only don’t give up meat, we deliberately plan something meaty and delightful.

Like those tasty pasties.

You see, every day in the Octave of Easter — the eight days from Easter Sunday to Divine Mercy Sunday, inclusive — is supposed to be celebrated just like we do Easter Sunday. The resurrection of Christ, and our joy that accompanies it, can’t be contained by a single day. From the earliest days of the Church, penance during this time wasn’t simply not necessary — it was positively forbidden. (Just like on Sundays, the day of the Lord’s resurrection, which is why there’s 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, so that when you remove the six Sundays during Lent, there’s still 40 days of fasting.)

The Eastern Church does an even better job of keeping the Easter joy going than we Roman Catholics do. From Easter Sunday to Ascension Thursday, Eastern Catholics greet each other with “Christ is risen!” and respond “Indeed he is risen!” And from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday, kneeling — a posture of penitence and submission — is forbidden during the liturgy. Even at the consecration, the faithful stand up, because we, in being baptized into Christ, have also risen with him.

So today, eat, drink and be merry — not because tomorrow we might die, but because we’ve already died in Christ and now live a new life.

Scott P. Richert is publisher for OSV.

Scott P. Richert

Scott P. Richert is publisher for OSV.