Proclaiming the Pascal mystery: Sunrise Mass about renewal

Throngs of worshippers braved the darkness of the early morning yesterday, some carrying children deep in slumber, others carrying chairs or blankets for Easter Mass at St. Catherine’s Kealia Cemetery.

As congregation members who parked along the highway hiked up to the hilltop for the pre-dawn service, many exuded a sentiment that, despite of the early hour, wasn’t dreary, but rather hopeful.

Flocking to what became a burgeoning sunrise Mass, parishioners anticipated the dawn, a profound parallel to what Christians believe occurred after Jesus’ crucifixion: the Resurrection.

“In a few minutes we will see the sun rising,” Rev. Edgar Villaneuva said. “It is like remembering our own Jesus Christ who is risen from the dead. When he was dead, there was darkness. But after a few days, he rose and gave light to the whole world.”

Easter, the Sunday of the Resurrection, Pascal or Resurrection Day, is one of the most important days of the Christian liturgical year. Celebrated the first Sunday following the first full moon after March 20, at its core is the miracle of the Resurrection, which Christians believe occurred when Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his Crucifixion between A.D. 27 to 33.

While traditional Easter meals for the estimated 2.1 billion Christians in the world, 1.1 billion of which are estimated to be Catholics, include honey-baked ham or roast leg of lamb, the popularity of brightly-colored eggs is said to relate to new life, whether that of Jesus Christ or the changing of the season.

The pagan festival of Eostre, a celebration of the goddess of spring, coincides with Easter, as does the Jewish feast of Passover.

After more than a month of Lenten sacrifice and fasting in preparation for Easter, several Christians could be spotted enjoying holiday meals at some of the island’s hotel brunches after services, while others feasted at local-style restaurants such as the Tip Top Cafe.

Before heading out to join her granddaughter for an Easter egg hunt, Lizann Cummings went to the well-known spot to enjoy fried rice with a side order of bacon and toast, she said, noting, “everything is good on that menu.”

The Roman Catholic tradition marks Easter as the starting point for an eight-day feast called the Octave of Easter. Also beginning is a 50-day church season, called Eastertide, that continues through Pentecost.

Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit. Christians believe that this occurs 10 days after his Ascension, or 50 days after his Resurrection.

• Amanda C. Gregg, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or agregg@kauaipubco.com.

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