After much anticipation and preparation the season of rebirth is upon us. Christ has risen, Alleluia! So, now what? Everyone makes grand plans for what disciplines they will fallow during Lent and how they might double these efforts during the Triduum, but what do we do when all the fasting stops? Easter can be a little more tricky to pin down because its not simply a season for doing something different its a season for being someone different. In the season of rebirth you are reborn. Easter is about being a new child in Christ. How can we be someone new?
Actually, this is my favorite time of year for a lot of reasons. As a Catholic, I love Easter. As a geek, I love the season of all the big budget superhero movies. As a Catholic Geek I thought super heroes might provide a pretty good guide to how we can approach a season of rebirth.
Huh? Well for a second lets forget about the season of rebirth and look at it as the season on the reboot. Think how many super heroes have received the inevitable reboot. On the big screen we have had two Batmen, Two Spidermen and at least two more Supermen than we wanted. In the comics the entire marvel franchise was rebooted to the ultimate version of it self. DC just up and rebooted the planet earth …infinite times… then they rebooted that. Why all the reboots?
Is it because comic fans have short memories and will always pay more to read the same story again. Yes. But it also brings every superhero to the most critical, a purest part of his story: the Origin story. When a superhero gets rebooted you get another chance to tell the who, the what and the why all over again; right from the Origin story.
Easter is the Christian faiths Origin story. Its the Churches Origin story. But its more than that. For every Christian it is our Origin story. It is the story of how we were redeemed and reborn into a new body and a new union with him. The person we where died in the Triduum the person we are had its Origin in Easter. But if you have been a Christian long enough everyone has times when they forget that Origin story. When they forget the person they are and they start to revert to a human life.
So this Easter, reboot the story. Reboot your story and write yourself a new origin. No, seriously, go get a piece of paper and start writing this down. We are going to write your origin story. Don’t worry I’ll wait.
When a super hero goes through their origin they become something greater than what they were. They become the living embodiment of what they aspire to. In his latest reboot Superman was the symbol of “Hope”. Sometimes Superman is the embodiment of “Truth and Justice”. Spider-man is the embodiment of “responsibility” and “courage”. Ghost Rider was the embodiment of bad acting, but that’s a bad example.
As Catholics we all strive to embody our faiths cardinal virtues Faith, Hope, Charity, Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Courage. No mortal man could really be the embodiment of anyone of these only Jesus could hope to embody all of them. But this is Easter! The gift of Jesus’ resurrection is that we each share a part in his body. And with Jesus’ help we can strive to embody these virtues in a way our old selves could not before.
While ideally we would strive to have all these virtues great superheros are often associated with one. This is your reboot your writing. Which virtue do you wish to embody? How can that virtue be lived out? Choose a virtue to guide your Easter reboot.
Probably the first thing everyone identifies with a comic book heroes is their powers. The Flash is super fast. The Hulk is super strong. Dare Devil is like super blind…ok another bad example. You probably don’t know you super powers this Easter.
Ok you didn’t gain super powers this Easter because you already had them. The gospel clearly states that God has distributed gifts throughout his body. All the power we need to accomplish his plan we have already been given. I’m not going to go into how to discern your gifts. Obviously that is a pretty broad topic, and there are already some pretty good gift surveys online. Saint Ignatius has one. Saint Austins parish has one too. What I do want you to talk about is the first thing every super hero does after discovering their powers. In his first major movie Spiderman swings straight into a wall. In Wolverines origin movie he totally annihilates …a sink. And cue the cheesy training montage. All of these are examples of superheroes doing the same thing: trying out their powers.
Because Easter is a reboot! Forget what you did the last time around your being reborn again. The only way you will know what you can do this time around is if you test it out. So go out and experiment. So you can use the surveys to get an initial idea but then its up to you to discover your new powers.
Your Back story…
Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future. And every super hero has a back story. Have you ever noticed whatever was the major frustration in a heroes life before they got their powers becomes their greatest struggle in the end. Superman is always limited by the rocks from his planet of origin. Green Lantern will always be held back by poor casting decisions.
Real people are kind of like that to. Easter frees us from our sin, but it doesn’t free us from ourselves. Each of us is carrying around with us a past that is going to define us more than we want to admit. The good news is the hero always wins in his own Origin story. Easter is your story and God is going to give you the grace to overcome whatever is lurking in your past.
But that doesn’t mean you can ignore your back story. Understanding your past struggles and how they have lead you to this moment will help you know what the new you must be. The key is to remember a hero doesn’t just overcome his weaknesses; he makes them his strength.
If your past was haunted by loneliness, become the center of you parish community. If you have struggled with pride, then let your Easter virtue be humility. This is the new Easter you.
A super hero epic wouldn’t really be a story if the heroes only struggled on the inside. A hero has to go out into the world and save the innocent from some great evil. Batman defeats the Joker. Captain America defeats Hydra. Thor defeats your suspension of disbelief. Every hero is defined by the cause for which he fights.
At this point in writing your narrative you have to look outside yourself. What forces oppose Christ in the world. Can you use your gifts to feed the hungry or visit the imprisoned? Can you use your gifts to fight the stain of Abortion in our world? Can you use your gifts to help fight against the growing inequality in our world?
There is one thing that every hero does, they put themselves in harms way. If a hero only fought the evil that came to him then evil would triumph just by going somewhere else. A hero goes out and searches for his Nemesis. For you Origin story this Easter you must spend time at the fringes where God needs heroes, where is God calling you
Finally a superheros is ready to accept their new identities. Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man. Tony Stark becomes Iron Man. Joss Whedon becomes the Ubergeek! Easter is about being reborn. The person you were is not the person you are. Perhaps you should give yourself a new name.
You probably already have a Confirmation name. The name I was given at Confirmation was Vincent as in Saint Vincent de Paul. I selected Saint Vincent because he was the patron saint of volunteers. Here I am, Lord, where do you need me? But this Easter you have a reboot, so why don’t you take an Easter name. Think back over the rest of your Origin story. Is their a saint that can guide you. You don’t actually have to tell anyone your Easter name. Let it be your secret identity. But use it with yourself during prayer. Use it to remind yourself you are someone new. This Easter you are rebooting. You have a new Origin and a new life in Christ.
My challenge to you this Easter is to live your new Origin story.