WALT WANGERIN, JR. (author, “Paul: A Novel”): This is the very center of what we believe, of who we are, of what our identity is, of why we continue to return to the Lord in joy. Without Easter, there is no church.
[KIM] LAWTON: More often than not, Eastern Orthodox and Western Christians celebrate the Resurrection on different days. But a growing number of American church leaders say this should change.
FATHER RON ROBERSON (National Conference of Catholic Bishops): The credibility of the Christian message really gets compromised when people on the outside see that we can’t even agree on when to celebrate the central mystery of our faith.
East meets West.
LAWTON: Conflicts over the celebration of the Resurrection stretch back to the beginning days of Christianity. Early church leaders wanted all Christians to celebrate the Resurrection on the same day, after the Jewish Passover. To that end, a council of bishops in the fourth century decreed that Easter would fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the spring equinox. But as the Roman Empire divided between the Greek-speaking East and the Latin-speaking West, the church world also split. When Westerners adopted the new Gregorian calendar in the 16th century, the East kept the Julian calendar. Since the two calendars have differing dates for the equinox and full moon, in most years Easter falls on different Sundays.
LAWTON: During Holy Week, churches mark their beliefs with special services. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, these services are especially numerous and lengthy. One unique observance is the service of holy unction on Wednesday night.
MS. MATHEWES-GREEN: At the conclusion of this service, the members of the church line up and come forward for anointing, for healing. In the Orthodox Church, we still have a lively belief that Jesus heal, that we need healing of our souls and our bodies.