How exciting, it is Easter! We return to the rituals at Mass that come with this season. One of my favorites is the singing of the “Alleluia.” Once again, we say out loud, “Alleluia, Christ has risen.”
Did you ever pause to wonder what the word alleluia means? Often people will confuse the translation of the word with “Christ is risen,” but that is not its meaning. Alleluia comes from a Hebrew word hallĕlūyāh meaning “Praise ye the Lord.” Moving into the New Testament, it is translated to Greek then Latin where it became alleluia and means “praise the Lord.”
St. Pius X Church in Middletown has a great tradition at the beginning of Lent. Since the alleluia will not be used during Lent, the parish literally buries the word in a box. This leads to the question as to why we stop saying and singing “Alleluia” during Lent. The translation is important here, as we are quite literally saying “Praise the Lord” when we say alleluia. This word is a joyous and celebratory phrase. Since Lent is a time that is somber, prayerful, and used to reflect on our faults so as to strengthen our relationship with God, we do not continue to use such a festive word.
At Easter, the parish resurrects the buried word and boldly displays it in a banner inside the church. As St. John Paul reminds us, “We are an Easter people and alleluia is our song.” It’s a beautiful tradition of our faith.
Fasting from saying alleluia during the Lenten time of sacrifice and repentance helps us appreciate the depth and meaning of the word. If you go through all of Lent, but don’t experience the release of great joy with the news of the Risen Lord on Easter Sunday, then you are missing the point of this season. This practice also serves to remind us that although this life may be filled with trials, sacrifice and struggles, there is an incredible joy that awaits us when we reach heaven.
Pope Francis has called all of us to be missionary disciples of Christ. What he means by this is that we should not just say “Alleluia” during the celebration of Mass, but live the Easter joy in our lives. In his book Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel, the Pope writes, “(We) must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral. Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow.”
Each of us need to show the Easter joy we experience in all that we do and wherever we go. Attending Mass during the Easter season is not the time to be somber; it is a time to rejoice and celebrate. We are called to live our lives reflecting that Easter joy. Let us live with the joy of the Lord in our hearts this Easter. Let us resurrect the “Alleluia!”
By Liza Roach