Puzzling Through Lent


It’s hard to believe that we’re already three weeks into Lent.  Of course, Lent snuck up on me this year and I have confirmation (Father Lasch, for one) that it is unusually early.  That is because Easter is a movable feast that occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first full day of Spring.  While I’ve long known this formula and that it ties into the Hebrew calendar for determining Passover (The Last Supper was a Passover seder), I still don’t understand why Easter and Passover rarely coincide.  Even if we use different calendars, the first day of Spring and the first full moon should be the same, no?  I also don’t know what happens if the first day of Spring is Sunday and there’s a full moon.

Anyhow, Easter falls on March 23rd this year.  According to Snopes.com, the earliest possible date for Easter is March 22nd which last happened in 1818 and will occur next in 2285.  In other words, this is the earliest Easter any of us will see in our lifetimes.  Spiff, huh?

Another interesting aspect of this unusually early Easter is the affect that Holy Week is having on other aspects of the liturgical calendar.  From Whispers in the Loggia I learned that Annunciation day, usually March 25th, has been pushed forward to March 31st and St. Joseph’s Day is moved up from March 19th to March 15th.  The biggest move is of St. Patrick’s Day from March 17th to March 14th.  Rocco Palmo notes that several cities/dioceses are moving their St. Patrick’s Day celebration appropriately, although I expect if will have little effect on the secular celebration of the day.

I did wonder what would happen in New York where the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is organized by a Catholic fraternal organization who always march on March 17th except when that date falls on a Sunday.   Apparently they’re going forward with the parade on the usual date even though it’s Holy Week.  In Boston, where the parade is always on a Sunday, tradition will also be adhered to even though the means marching on Palm Sunday.

Well, this is all very fasting, but does nothing for my observance of Lent.  Another day is coming up during Holy Week that no one can move.  March 19th is the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq.  Jim Wallis sets out a Lenten call to repentance in observance of that anniversary.   That’s the type of thing that will give me the proper perspective on the season.

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