An Official Apology

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I offer an official apology to all those who use our St. Joseph parish wall calendars. “Catholic Inspirations” published by Comda Advertising Connections. The calendar indicates that on Wednesday we will have a new moon. In fact we will have a full moon on Wednesday.

Please forgive us for this error. Of course it is extremely important. If we don’t know when the full moon comes, we won’t know when the most important day of the year comes. The first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. (Easter!)

The good news is that we can remedy the calendar error simply by looking up at the sky at night.* You can tell by looking that the calendar is two weeks off, when it comes to the lunar cycle.

In other words: God is omnipotently merciful. We make mistakes and screw things up, in our little domain. But God serenely continues to God, without fail, without interruption.

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*Looking up at the sky at night will solve the two-week discrepancy with the St. Joseph wall calendar. This year, however, actually involves an interesting anomaly. In determining the date of Easter, the Church does not follow only the observable astronomical facts; we also applying some additional rules. If we did go solely by the sun and moon, then Easter could come on a different day, depending on where you live on the globe.

AD 2019 involves an unusual case, when astronomical Easter and ecclesiastical Easter do not fall on the same day. The vernal equinox this year falls on March 20, when we will have a full moon. So, astronomically speaking, we should celebrate Easter this Sunday. But, according to the rules that apply in the Church (in order to avoid having two Easters in two different parts of the world) a full moon on March 20 does not count. The Paschal moon cannot come before March 21. (This is why Easter seems to come ‘so late’ this year.)

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Dates and an RIP

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God rest Stephen Hawking.

Of course that gets us thinking about the science called Computus, the determination of the date of Easter. As we all know by now (I hope), Easter falls on the _________ after the __________ after the _______________.*

That’s not so hard. You don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to get that, God rest him. But what about finding a repeating cycle for Easter dates? Over what period of years do the dates of Easter form a repeating pattern?

Two years ago, Easter fell on March 27. That also happened in 2005. I remember because: If Easter is March 27, then Good Friday and Annunciation Day are the same, March 25.

Ancient tradition holds that the Lord Jesus suffered and died on the same date when He was conceived in the Blessed Mother’s womb. So when Easter falls on March 27, that means the lunar calendar coincides with the solar calendar.

Now we’re getting closer to Stephen-Hawking-type territory. So how about this: Who remembers a year with dates like this year, 2018? Namely, an Ash-Wednesday Valentine’s, a Palm-Sunday Annunciation Day, and an April-Fool’s Easter? Not too many of us remember–since it hasn’t happened since 1956.

sacredheartFor my grandparents, a year like this would have seemed familiar, since they had Ash-Wednesday Valentines and April-Fool Easters in 1923, 1934, 1945, and then in 1956. And for our children, it will seem like a somewhat familiar thing: It will happen again in 2029 and then again in 2040. But then two generations will pass before it ever happens again. The next April-Fools Easter after 2040 will be 2108.

Stephen Hawking knows more about all this now than he did yesterday. He probably already knew the period of years over which the dates of Easter repeat in a cycle. 5,700,000 years. After 5,700,000 years, the dates of Easter will start up again and repeat exactly as they did over the course of the previous 5,700,000 years. For God, of course, 5,700,000 years is like a passing day.

Hawking wrote in 1988 that if we knew why the universe exists, then we would know the mind of God. Now–March 14, 2018–Mr. Hawking does know why.

He could have known sooner, by seeking the answer from Jesus Christ, crucified for love. The reason why the universe exists can be found. Not by science, nor by any exercise of human reasoning. But in the Heart of Christ.

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* first Sunday, first full moon, vernal equinox