Happy Easter! Yes, happy Easter in the midst of this unprecedented – at least in my lifetime, suspension of human community…gathering, eating together, worshipping together. No doubt this has been and continues to be an Easter season like none other. My wife Marcia and I continue to pray the Rosary for you, our fellow parishioners, and for your families, asking God to keep you safe, provide for your special needs in this time, and to see normality restored soon. If you have not done so, I’d encourage you to join with Fr. Chas and Fr. Brian for the 8pm Rosary. The parish that prays together, stays together! Isn’t it amazing that when the chips are down, we rise to do those things that are most important?
Also, I hope we can find a silver lining in all of this. For me, it has been extra reading, bike riding, and viewing some of the excellent online content from Fr. Robert Spitzer (Credible Catholic), Fr. Dave Pivonka, and others. The Wild Goose Series Metanoia is phenomenal!
We’ve also revisited some movies that have gathered some dust over the years. Most recently we watched the film Seabiscuit (2003). For those who might not be familiar with the story, Seabiscuit was a thoroughbred racehorse in the 1930’s (voted American Horse of the Year in 1938). He was relatively small, “undersized and knobby kneed” as he was described, and winning did not come easily, or early, in his racing career. However, in his prime, he ran perhaps his most famous race, a special two-horse race at Pimlico against the 1937 Triple-Crown winner, War Admiral. Seabiscuit was the long shot, the underdog
and symbol of the common man during the Great Depression, and who doesn’t like a feel-good story, predictable though it may be, of an underdog triumph?
One of my favorite scenes is a race that highlights how Seabiscuit was often ridiculed and mocked for his smallness. From above we see all of the jockeyed horses at the gate restlessly (‘chomping at the bit’ is more than a cliché!) waiting for the bell and for the doors to swing open. The camera zooms in on a jockey (George) who turns and looks down condescendingly on Seabiscuit next to him (jockeyed by Red Pollard).
George: “Pretty small, ain’t he?”
Red Pollard: “He’s gonna look a lot smaller in a second, Georgie.”
Now, at this point, some of you may be wondering, “Where in the world is he going with this…what does this have to do with Easter?” Please, suspend all judgment and sit back in the saddle and enjoy the ride for a minute, OK?
The fact is I love horses, especially thoroughbreds, but obviously, I know very little compared to professional trainers and jockeys. However, there is much more involved in racing than the raw power and skill of the horse. There is also the interaction between the jockey and horse and a science to pacing, positioning, drafting, and many other dynamic factors.
One thing I have understood is that a race horse does not run full speed from the beginning to the end of the race. There is a pace, a good pace, set at the beginning which is maintained for much of the race. At a strategic point, the jockey cracks the whip, signaling to “open up, full throttle”. That has to be the most thrilling part of the race; the thoroughbred explodes into a full, wide open gallop for the finish, lathered, every muscle and sinew visibly defined. His jockey leans forward and hugs tight to the mane…horse and rider become one rhythmic thrust for the finish.
Each and every Sunday throughout the liturgical year is the Lord’s Day, the Day of the Resurrection. This is our pace, our norm, a sabbath solemnity at the beginning of each week. The faithful run this race and keep the pace, mindful of our calling and destiny. But there is a time, and it comes once each year, where the Master lovingly, yet firmly cracks the whip, not in correction this time, but in a stimulating challenge for us to “open up” fully and gallop, running the race set before us with our eyes on Jesus. This to me is the Easter season: the whip has cracked at the Easter Vigil, and we now run wide open for 50 days,
celebrating the triumph of Jesus who defeated sin and death.
Happy Easter, and run like the wind!