There is so much to learn about the Christian Faith that one can spend their lifetime studying it and never exhaust its content. After only 10 years into studying it myself, I thought it would be fun to share five of some of the more interesting things I have learned over the years. Enjoy!
The Origin of the Easter Bunny. The tradition of the Easter Bunny is part of how we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus because of a legend of a rabbit being the first witness to Jesus rising from the dead. Whether this was a true event or not, it is still a fun way to celebrate the Salvific event so central to our faith!
There is also the story of the legend of “Eastre”, the European goddess of the spring, celebrated by non-Christians during the time of the early Church. Eastre had a pet bird who would lay eggs and hide them in various places. One day, Eastre decided to change her bird into a rabbit, but it was still able to continue its egg laying antics. This has become a tradition for the Easter celebration of Christians as, while working to aid pagans in their conversion to Christianity, early Christians would allow for various pagan symbols to to be used in the non-essential Christian practices. What this means is that they would merely show how these pagan practices and traditions could be used to point the pagans to Christ and the Salvation that He gives.
In my book, both of these traditions are acceptable. The first most likely grew out of the second and that does not bother me one bit. Symbols will always be a part of our faith and what matters more is then truths that they symbolize.
- Why Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son. To better understand this, we need to look more at the historical background of Abraham’s time. There was a lot of child sacrifice occurring around the time Abraham lived. There were many neighboring religions worshipping “gods” which demanded child sacrifices. God wanted to make sure that Abraham understood that He was not like this and would not seek something so profane. Merely telling him this apparently wasn’t enough, as God wanted to show him and test his heart in the process.
- The assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II. In 1981, the reigning pope at the time, Pope John Paul II was shot four times by someone in the crowd. The pope survived the attack and lived over 20 more years. He is noted as being instrumental in the fall of Russian Communism, leading many young people to give their lives to Jesus, and making the office of the pope more visible to the people as he traveled the world. He would eventually die from Parkinson's disease in 2005.
- St. Thomas Aquinas’ nickname for Jesus. St. Thomas was known to call Jesus his “Pelican” based on the sacrificial actions a mother pelican would take for her young if she could not find food. In order to save them from starvation, a mother pelican will slice open her own belly with her beak so that her young will have food to eat. This is strikingly similar to what Jesus has done as He gave Himself up for us, and gives us His Body in the Eucharist for our spiritual nourishment.
- The identity of the Naked Young Man. In Mark 14:51-52, we are told of a young man following Jesus and His companions the night Christ was arrested. The soldiers try to grab the young man, but only catch his garment, causing him to run off naked. There is speculation that this young man is none other than St. Mark himself. This is also based on the tradition that the Upper Room where Jesus held his Last Supper belonged to Mark’s mother, who was one of the leading women in Jerusalem. This is also the place of the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and where St. Peter goes in Acts 12:12 after he is freed from prison by the angel.