Why is Easter Celebrated on Different Calendar Dates From Year To Year?

Easter

Standardization of Easter Celebration Date

The Catholic Church fixes the date of Easter, its celebration to mark the resurrection of Christ, using a method set out in AD 325 by the Council of Nicaea. In the first centuries AD, Easter was celebrated on different days by different groups of Christians, the Council of Nicaea sought to standardize it.

Role of Full Moon

Easter is now celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox. Early Christians couldn’t simply wait to find out when the full moon would fall, then quickly celebrate Easter. They had to fit in Lent – 40 days of fasting – immediately beforehand, so had to know several weeks in advance when that full moon would fall, a task that could only be achieved by keeping astronomical records and projecting into the future.

Easter Dates 

What is Compassion?

Compassion

Caring for Yourself and Others 

Compassion is the fundamental quality that allows us to stretch ourselves and to grow in our awareness, care, and love of ourselves and others. 

Practicing compassion can lead to lasting happiness for oneself and others.  

Cultivating Compassion

Compassion is cultivated through loving-kindness, in which one begins by imagining how they feel toward a loved one, then turning it toward themselves, then family and friends, then strangers, then enemies, and finally toward all beings.

The feeling of compassion is not something that can be generated quickly or halfheartedly. Compassion is not a one-time thing – striving for compassion is an all-consuming, full-time undertaking.

Compassion & Suffering 

Though compassion is extolled, compassion in and of itself, is decidedly not a happy feeling – it is explicitly and unquestionably uncomfortable.

Inherent in compassion is the recognition of universal suffering. If you are genuinely able to have compassion toward all living/feeling beings without exception, then this means that you are also able to recognize the suffering of all beings all the time.

The intensity of compassion is like a trial by fire:

The extensive and vast mind possessed of compassion for all living beings, like love starting from the present mother and extending to the limits of space, must be cultivated to such a degree that it compares to that of a tearful person who sees or remembers that his or her only child has fallen into a pit of fire.

Gorampa Sonam Senge, Buddhist teacher, 15th-century

Motivation to Act

Imagine having this intense feeling all the time, about everyone. This is universal compassion – it is something that is uncomfortable, unsettling, and incredibly difficult to comprehend. But this is why genuine compassion is so important, and why it has the potential to be so powerful.

Operating from a place of discomfort is more likely to motivate us to act. By recognizing the suffering of others and having a sincere and urgent desire to alleviate that suffering, we can learn to act compassionately in the world.

We must try to really see and understand the suffering in the world, and to lean into our own discomfort in order to work toward alleviating the suffering of all.


For a more in-depth look, see The Discomfort of Compassion, by Constance Kassor.

How Do Myth and Ritual Infuse Religion With Meaning?

Myth and Ritual Explained

The grounding (foundational) story of a religion is known as a “myth”With the grounding story in place (for example, the cosmic Christ), rituals then reinforce and proclaim it.

The myth explains the ritual, and the ritual enacts the story: actions are performed, or calendar dates marked, because the gods did this, or because the savior figure first performed it.

By reenacting the events of a myth, rituals connect members of a group to the defining moments of the movement, and so give meaning to time. By looking at the myths and rituals of a particular group within their broader context, the group’s story and practice are both seen to draw from and set up worldviews that can either reinforce the prevailing culture or set up alternatives to it.

Common Ritual Practices 

Public sacrifice was the most visible ritual performed in ancient times for what we today call both “religious” and social/civic purposes. Individuals also engaged in private rituals that both reflected their beliefs and sought to influence transcendent powers.

Ritualized dietary behaviors are common in religions cross-culturally. The same is true of calendars that divide time into sacred and profane.

For many, the performance of ritual provides a means of making the profane sacred, of connecting to the divine, of securing blessings, transformation and protection, and of reinforcing group membership. A ritualized performance can, of course, turn from a meaningful action into an obsession or a rote behavior.

New Testament: Methods and Meanings
The New Testament: Methods and Meanings
Warren Carter and Amy-Jill Levine
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Warren Carter
Warren Carter

Warren Carter is professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas. Carter specializes in the Gospel of Matthew, as well as the Greek New Testament in general.

Carter has a Ph.D. (New Testament), from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a B.D., Th.M., from Melbourne College of Divinity, Australia. He was born was in New Zealand.

Carter is an ordained United Methodist Elder.

Books written by Warren Carter include:


Amy-Jill Levine
Amy-Jill Levine
born 1956

Amy-Jill Levine is E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Department of Religious Studies, and Graduate Department of Religion.

Levine is a self-described “Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Protestant divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt.” She also “combines historical-critical rigor, literary-critical sensitivity, and a frequent dash of humor with a commitment to eliminating antisemitic, sexist, and homophobic theologies.”

Levine is a member of an Orthodox Jewish synagogue.

Books written by Amy-Jill Levine include:

What is the Way of Mysticism?

Mysticism

The Liberation of Mysticism

Mysticism aims to deconstruct the classical metaphysical contrasts (the finite and the infinite, the temporal and the eternal, the sensual and the purely spiritual, and so on) and bring realism to an end, with an effect that is as if God and the self have been melted together.

The result is usually described as a dissolving of the soul, with an extraordinary effect of religious liberation and happiness, a kind of intellectual orgasm described by some as “union with God” or the “spiritual marriage” but which others describe as “atheism” and wish to see punished.

Mysticism Dismantles Doctrines of God 

Mystical figures such as Spinoza among the Jews, al-Hallaj among the Muslims, and Meister Eckhart among the Christians, have accordingly been punished by their co-religionists. Punished because mysticism gives the game away – it dismantles God for God’s sake.

The mystics, those few who truly wish to attain religious happiness, will continue to discover that the way to it is by dismantling, dissolving away the realistic doctrines of both God and the self, so that the two can be melted together. Admittedly the spiritual marriage is a deadly heresy, but it is also eternal happiness.

Union Through Dissolution 

In the end everything we most deeply longed for coincides with, and turns out to be the same as, everything we most feared. All the great distinctions and oppositions out of which we built our ideas of God, the world, and the self are undone. The dissolution of God, and our attainment of perfect union with God, are one and the same thing.

After God: The Future of Religion


After God: The Future Of Religion
Don Cupitt

Background on Don Cupitt

Seeing Life As It Is

Accepting Life

Trying to make a perfect life
is a path of great sorrow.
The perfect life cannot be built
by seeking to fulfill desires
no matter how many years are spent,
or how much effort is applied.
Desires are insatiable and endless.

If instead we see
the imperfect events,
and the ordinary people,
as the movements of the Tao,
life becomes perfect as it is.

The time comes when we realize
that the ducks will never be in a row.
It is the nature of ducks to fly about.
The house will never be perfectly clean.
It is the nature of a house to accommodate clutter.
The project will never be done just right.
It is the nature of projects to evolve
into other
projects.
The future will never be perfectly secure.
It is the nature of life to be unpredictable.

Sit and watch for a moment.
Perfection will be built
from all that is imperfect.

(pages 70 & 71)

The Sage's Tao Te Ching
The Sage’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for the Second Half of Life
William Martin

 

 


William Martin
William Martin

. Taoist Living
. William Martin (Spirituality & Practice site)
. William C. Martin (his website)

William Martin has been a teacher of Taoism for more than 40 years. He is the author of innovative translations of the Tao Te Ching for specific audiences including parents and couples, as well as books on the Tao and such themes as forgiveness and caring for one another. He continues to think through and write about Taoism, life, and the natural world as well as paint in the Taoist tradition.

Books William Martin has written include: