Well, let’s hope “forever” will end soon.
The most significant 11 minutes and 48 seconds in the history of Christianity have been widening the gulf between Orthodox and Western Christians since 1582. But if Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant Christians can get their act together, the world’s Christians might finally start celebrating Easter on the same day.
“I often wonder what it signals to the rest of the world that Christians cannot assemble around a common date for Easter,” said Archdiocese of Toronto ecumenical and interfaith affairs officer Fr. Damian MacPherson. It might be of no interest to non-Christians, concedes MacPherson, but it certainly matters to Christians who yearn for unity. “I feel the division when we’re not able to do a common liturgy on a common date around the most significant event in our history — resurrection,” MacPherson said. Speaking to a gathering of priests last year, Pope Francis said he was open to changing the date of Easter in the West so that all Christians around the world can celebrate on the same day. On June 12, 2015 he said, “We have to come to an agreement.” He joked that the current situation causes confusion because it allows Christians to say to one another: “When did Christ rise from the dead? My Christ rose today, and yours next week.” …Dating Easter is a problem as old as Christianity. Even the Gospels don’t agree. In Matthew, Mark and Luke the Last Supper takes place on the first day of Passover, which begins at sundown on Thursday. In the Gospel of John, the Last Supper takes place on the evening before Passover, Wednesday. In the early Church, when Christianity was a Jewish movement, most Christians celebrated Easter on the first Sunday after Passover. The Jewish lunar calendar prevailed. But it did not bring unity. A group called the Quattuordecimans insisted there was no reason to do Easter on Sunday. They wanted it three days after Passover — the 14th of Nissan according to the Jewish calendar. By 325, when Emperor Constantine called the first ecumenical council in Nicea, Christians all over Europe, the Middle East and North Africa had a wide variety of dates for Easter.