Arhive pe categorii: Easter

THE TRUE MEANING OF EASTER

THE TRUE MEANING OF EASTER

 by Pugh Curtis

            Easter is one of the biggest celebrations in Christendom. This day, it is claimed, celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But we have questions. Did God anywhere in the Bible command us to keep this annual day? Do we have God’s instructions as to how it is to be observed? Did the apostles observe such a celebration? Just when was this day first celebrated and by whom? Who decided that the day is to be observed in churches?

The word “Easter” appears only once in our King James Bibles. If you have a complete KJV Bible check the marginal note. It proves that the original word is “pascha” or “Passover.” This Greek word is found 29 times in the Bible. In 28 of those times it is rightly translated “Passover” and refers to the Jewish annual feast that commemorated the passing over of the death angel. Why did the King James translators use a different word? They were following the rules for translation commanded them by King James. They were to keep the old church words passed down from their mother church. Some of these words they kept were “church,” “cross,” “baptize,” “bishop,” “presbytery,” etc. The fact is, God never mentioned the word “Easter” in His Bible. It was the translators who substituted that word for their own reasons – not for any sound principle of translation.

The name “Easter” actually comes from the name “Ishtar” who was an ancient fertility goddess worshiped by the Gentile neighbors of the Jews. Ever wonder what bunnies, baby chicks and eggs have to do with the resurrection of Christ? Absolutely nothing! But they are fertility symbols associated with this ancient idolatry.

Consider this Bible principle: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey…?” (Romans 6:16). Simple, is it not? We are the servants of whom we obey! Since the Bible has not told us to observe this pagan day and since we have no apostolic example of any first century Christians observing it, it is an innovation – something newly brought in. Applied to Easter, this principle means that if we observe this celebration we are not obeying God. We must be obeying someone else. It is the Pope and  his religious organization that ordered the observance of this day. So if you observe Easter, you are obeying the Pope.

Just as you know what pleases you better than anyone else, so it is with God. Do those who observe Easter think that they know better what will please God better than He does? If He had wanted His children to observe the day, would He not have told us to keep it and just how He wanted it kept? Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth,” (John 4:24). Truth matters! God cannot be worshiped with pagan lies! “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry,” (1 Corinthians 10:14).

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LENT, EASTER AND HOT CROSS BUNS Curtis Pugh Poteau, Oklahoma

LENT, EASTER AND HOT CROSS BUNS

Curtis Pugh

Poteau, Oklahoma

Roman Catholics, Protestants and even some modern Baptists are all involved in celebrating or observing Lent and Easter. That the fast of Lent is not only unknown in the Bible, but was not a practice of the apostles is admitted in the Catholic Encyclopedia. It says, “We may then fairly conclude that Irenaus about the year 190 knew nothing of any Easter fast of forty days.” That being the case there is nothing in the Bible that tells or encourages you to observe any of the pagan observances of Lent and Easter. Not only is there no encouragement for you to do these things, to do so is to observe both hypocritical and pagan practices. There are, actually, words from the Lord Jesus against Ash Wednesday practices. It is common practice to have ashes put on the forehead on Ash Wednesday as a sign of fasting. The Lord said, “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” Wearing ashes on one’s forehead is most certainly appearing unto men to fast. It is a pagan sign of fasting – with no Bible basis. The Lord said, “Wash thy face!”

Did you know that in the early days of European settlement in North America most people did not celebrate either Lent or Easter? Why? Because everyone knew that Easter (named for the pagan goddess “Ishtar”) was pagan. Easter is nothing more than a pagan, fertility cult observance. (The King James translators incorporated the pagan word “Easter” one time in their work, but the Greek word there is actually the word for “passover” – a God-given Jewish observance, not a pagan one.) That Easter and all that goes with it is pagan is why eggs and bunnies are incorporated into its observance: they are fertility symbols. Consider what this author wrote for children: “When the Puritans came to North America, they regarded the celebration of Easter—and the celebration of Christmas—with suspicion. They knew that pagans had celebrated the return of spring long before [professing Roman Catholic] Christians celebrated Easter… for the first two hundred years of European life in North America, only a few states, mostly in the South, paid much attention to Easter.” (Easter Parade: Welcome Sweet Spring Time!, by Steve Englehart, p. 4 [brackets added]) “Easter first became an American tradition in the 1870s,” (ibid. p. 5).

The Catholic Encyclopedia admits what Baptists have always said: neither the Bible command nor did the apostles ever celebrate, observe or instruct anyone to celebrate “Easter” each year. Instead the Baptists have always maintained that we gather on the First Day because that was the day Christ was found to be resurrected: so we have a weekly celebration. The Catholic Encyclopedia says: “Further, there seems much to suggest that the Church in the Apostolic Age designed to commemorate the Resurrection of Christ, not by an annual, but by a weekly celebration…” That is what healthy Baptists have been doing ever since the days of the apostles. The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that it was not until the fourth century that some began to observe the forty day fast we know today as Lent.

If you want to know the truth about Lent, Easter and hot cross buns, do a little research. Find out about Nimrod (great-great-grandson of Noah) and Semiramis. Find out about Tammuz, the supposedly virgin-born son of Semiramis (who was also called Ashteroth or Ishtar – “Easter”). Find out about the Babylonian mystery religion – the fertility cult – established back then. The Old Testament condemned this idolatrous worship. Here is what was revealed to the prophet, Ezekiel: “He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose,” (Ezekiel 8:13-17). This “weeping for Tammuz” is the source of the fast of Lent incorporated by the Catholics to please their “pagan” converts.

Semiramis was called “the queen of heaven” and is mentioned twice in connection with the “hot cross buns” baked as a part of her worship. Jeremiah 7:17-18 says, “Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.” Again in Jeremiah 44:16-17 the Jewish women blatantly tell God’s man that they are going to do as they please. There it is written: “As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.”

We are confident that if you will do independent investigation you will come to the conclusion that Lent, and Easter (as well as hot cross buns) are all pagan. (The “cross” is pagan, too, but research that for yourself!) The Jewish women in Jeremiah chapter forty-four plainly told God’s man that they were blessed by their idols and were going to continue their idolatrous worship. They refused to obey the Word of God as spoken by God’s man Jeremiah. This preacher does not dare compare himself with Jeremiah. So he fully expects all sorts of people to continue with their idolatrous observances: if they would not listen to Jeremiah, they will not listen to this preacher. But God sees and God remembers. Either do as God pleases or do as you please. You are free, but you will be required to give an answer to God one day.

THE TRUE MEANING OF EASTER by Pastor Greg Wilson

THE TRUE MEANING OF EASTER
by Pastor Greg Wilson
As a Bible-believing Christian, I stake my all upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without it I would be, as the apostle notes: „of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19). I cannot understand why some make claim to Christianity, and yet deny the very cornerstone of the Christian faith; i.e., the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For Christ and His resurrection I have everything, and to it, I owe everything. But for the pagan festival of Easter, I have nothing but contempt!
One need not be a scholar or spend countless hours in research to ascertain that this holiday is a thoroughly pagan ritual. It has no connection to Biblical Christianity. A true child of God ought not observe it in any positive way. Until this century, no Baptist, and many protestants would have nothing to do with it. Baptists, and some protestants were persecuted for their refusal to join in its festivities.
Under the definition for Easter in Webster’s Dictionary (College Edition) one finds: „originally the name of pagan vernal festival . . . Eastre, dawn goddess.” Further reading in an encyclopedia, or most books on the holidays will identify this Eastre with the pagan goddess known variously as Eostre, Ishtar, Semeramis, and Astarte. This is the same Babylonian „Queen of Heaven,” whose worship is condemned in the Word of God (see Jeremiah Chapters 7 and 44).
The trappings of the modern Easter, and its associated days are all pagan in origin. Lent is not found in the Bible as a Christian holiday. It is rather borrowed from the 40 days of mourning for Tammuz, the lover/ husband/son of Astarte. God’s Word condemns its observance in Ezekiel 8:14.
There is absolutely no Biblical authority for such days as Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, or Maundy Thursday. „Good Friday” is the most bizarre of them all. Any grade school child can see that the Lord could not have died and been buried late Friday, spent three days and three nights in the tomb (Matt. 12:40) and risen again Sunday morning!
The word Easter is mentioned but once in the Authorized (KJV) Version of Scripture (Acts 12:4). There it is being observed by the pagan King Herod not by any Christian.
Some who know the pagan origin of Easter seek to justify its observance by calling it „Resurrection Sunday” rather than by its proper heathen name. This, however, only succeeds in dishonoring all the other Sundays of the year.
Truthfully, for the Christian, every Sunday should be resurrection Sunday! The impact of the resurrection alone can adequately explain why the disciples, who had observed a Saturday Sabbath all their lives, began meeting for worship on the First Day of the week, as we see them doing in Scripture.
Dear Christian, heed God’s admonition found in Jeremiah 10:2: „Learn not the way of the heathen . . .”

Easter and Good Friday Steve Flinchum

Easter and Good Friday
Steve Flinchum
According to Jewish reckoning, each day began at sundown the day before. „The evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5), and it is logical that all other days following would come in the same order. (Note also the command of God, Lev. 23:32, Ed.) The day began at 6:00 PM, was measured in „watches” until 6:00 AM, and then was measured in „hours” until 6:00 PM. Passover began on the fourteenth day, with the preparation day when the lamb was slain, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the fifteenth of the first month of the religious calendar (Exodus 12; Leviticus 23) and continued for seven days. The Feast of the Firstfruits was on the day after the first weekly sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Passover and Feast of the Firstfruits were both connected with the Feast of Unleavened Bread and sometimes, as in Luke 22:1, Passover referred to the entire eight day observance.
Luke 22:7 says, „Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.” Remember that this is in the evening of what we today would think of as the day before (the evening of Wednesday, Nisan 14th, what we would call 6:00 Tuesday evening). This same evening, Jesus said, „With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16). The „passover” would not be killed until 3:00 in the afternoon (this same day), Wednesday.
Later on this same day, in the morning, „Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgement: and it was early: and they themselves went not into the judgement hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover” (John 18:28). They were more interested in ceremonial purity than justice. There Jesus was questioned by Pilate, scourged, smitten, spat upon, mocked, and dressed in a crown of thorns and a purple robe. „And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!” (John 9:14). Daytime was measured from sunrise at 6:00 AM, the first hour, until sunset at 6:00 PM, the twelfth hour. The time then („about the sixth hour”) would be about noon. Mark 15:33 tells us that „there was darkness over the whole land” from „the sixth hour” „until the ninth hour.” At the „ninth hour,” 3:00 PM, „Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Mark 15:37-38).
The veil was rent in two by God simultaneously with the death of Jesus.
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
(Hebrews 10:19-23)
According to Jewish law, the body had to be buried before night (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). It was of course late in the day and as John tells us, „there laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand” (John 19:42).
Luke says, „And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on” (Luke 23:54). Friday was commonly referred to as „the preparation,” but „the preparation” was also used to refer to the day before a special feast, and in that case the reference to the sabbath would refer to the feast itself, rather than the seventh day of the week.
John points out, „for that sabbath day was an high day” (John 19:31). Notice how Matthew avoids using the term „sabbath” in Matthew 27:62. He says, „Now the next day, that followed the day of preparation” (and crucifixion), „the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate.” These Jewish leaders would more likely have met with Pilate on a Thursday or Friday than on the seventh day of the week. This is further clarified by John when telling of the events of the day of the crucifixion in John 19:14. This verse says, „And it was the preparation of the passover. . . .”
According to Luke 23:55-56, the women that followed Joseph of Arimathaea, when he placed Jesus’ body in the sepulchre, „and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid,” then „returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” With the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15) only minutes away, it is not likely that those women prepared the spices and ointments until Friday, Nisan 16, and as Luke 23:56 says, they „rested the sabbath day” [Saturday, the weekly sabbath] „according to the commandment.”
When telling of the resurrection, Matthew says, in Matthew 28:1, „In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week. . .” (underlining added). The wording there strongly indicates that the resurrection took place in the end of the seventh day of the week (6:00 PM), NOT at the rising of the sun on the first day of the week. William Tyndale translated it, „The sabbath day at even which dawneth the morrow after the sabbath.”
Mark 16 describes the situation „when the sabbath was past” (verse 1), „And very early in the morning the first day of the week . . . at the rising of the sun” (verse 2). At that time, „Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome” had already been there. The resurrection had already taken place. It is easy to confuse „they” spoken of in verse 2, who came „at the rising of the sun” with the two Marys mentioned in verse 1, who had already been there hours before and left. Verses 8, 9, and 10 show clearly that „they” in verse 2 are people other than the two Marys. Verse 8 says that „they [those of verse 2] went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.” Verse 10 informs us that Mary Magdalene „went and told them that had been with him.” Mary told some people about the resurrection, but „they,” of verse 2, didn’t say „any thing to any man.”
With the first day of the week, „the Lord’s day,” being ordained to honor Jesus’ completed work, as the anti-type of the seventh day sabbath commemorating the completion of creation, it should be no surprise that Jesus rose in the end of the seventh day of the week, toward the first day of the week.
To teach a Friday evening death and Sunday sunrise resurrection is to be deceived and/or deceitful. There is no honest way of fitting „three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40) into thirty-six hours.
„They that passed by” made fun of Jesus for His claim to destroy the temple and build it „in three days” (Matthew 27:40 and Mark 15:29). In Matthew 27:63, the chief priests and Pharisees said, „that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.” In Mark 14:57-58, some that „bare false witness against him” said they heard him say „within three days.”
More important is Jesus’ own words. In John 2:19, Jesus said, „Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Verse 21 says, „But he spake of the temple of his body.” In Luke 24:46, Jesus said, „Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” In Mark 8:31, Jesus was teaching that he must „be killed, and after three days rise again.” In Matthew 12:40, Jesus says, „For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Some may say, „Well, what difference does it make?” First of all, to read that Jesus said „three days and three nights,” but participate in the proclamation that Jesus was only in the grave for thirty-six hours, is to dispute the very words of Jesus.
Any worship activity that infers, suggests, or endorses a Friday crucifixion is NOT worship „in truth,” whether ignorantly or knowingly, and that is a fact that condemns the entire „Good Friday”/”Easter Sunday” celebration.
To aid in the propagation or approval of the thirty-six hour Friday until Sunday myth is to be guilty of the perversion of the gospel. In I Corinthians 15, Paul claims to declare „the gospel” (verse 1), which he defines as „how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen . . .” (underlining added). Notice that „the third day” is not optional, but is part of the definition given. Notice also, that „according to the scriptures” is included also, and stated twice. „The scriptures” that the death, burial, and resurrection must be „according to” is what we know as the Old Testament. There is a multitude of prophecies and types of Christ and of the gospel throughout the Old Testament „scriptures.” As already mentioned, Jesus referred to the „three days and three nights” of Jonah. When Jesus was walking with the two on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:27 says:
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
And later, verses 44-46 of the same chapter say:
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.
Most Bible scholars will agree that Abraham’s son Isaac is a type of Christ. Study Genesis 22. Notice that in verse 2, God spoke of Isaac as „thine only son,” even though Isaac was not the only son Abraham had. Abraham understood, because he knew that it was through Isaac that God was to keep His promise to him. In case we didn’t catch the hint of „thine only son” in verse 2, it is repeated in verse 12, and to be sure, God said it a third time in verse 16. In verse 2, God told Abraham to offer Isaac for a burnt offering. Imagine yourself in Abraham’s place. If God gave such an order and you were totally surrendered to obey God, it would seem as if the child were already dead. Hebrews 11:19 tells us that by faith Abraham offered up Isaac, „Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Notice in verse 4 of Genesis 22 that it was „on the third day,” after God informed Abraham of the requirement, that Isaac was given back to Abraham from the dead.
Romans 4:21-25 says:
And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able to perform.
And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Jesus, our Passover, died at the same time of day, and on the same day of the year, that the Passover lamb had been slain since the exodus from Egypt.
Read about „Noah’s ark” in Genesis 8:4, which says:
And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
Looking at the calendar previously exhibited, notice that what was the „seventh month” in Noah’s days became, at God’s command in Exodus 12:2, the first month. The ark that saved Noah from the flood rested upon the mountains of Ararat on the same day of the year that Jesus rose from the grave.
All these things happened exactly when God intended. In Matthew 26:2, Jesus said, „. . . after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.” Many wanted Him crucified, but it was not man’s design that it would happen when it did. Matthew 26:3-5 says:
Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.
But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.
Who was in control? Is God sovereign? Remember, as was shown in the previous chapter, from Romans 1:21, that the idolatry and false doctrine of the holidays developed „Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God.” When God is not glorified as the totally sovereign God that He is (the condition necessary to believe that God would plan on „three days and three nights,” but have to settle for thirty-six hours), occasion is given for vain imaginations and the darkening of foolish hearts.
Someone may ask, „Are we not to celebrate the resurrection?” Yes, we most definitely are, every „Lord’s day,” every „first day” of the week. No other day should ever compete with, or detract from it! And, it should be celebrated by worshipping „in spirit and in truth!”
The Waldenses recognized these truths, as is evident in their treatise called „Antichrist,” which is dated 1220 A.D. That treatise may be found in History of the Ancient Christians by Jean Paul Perrin, on pages 242-259, and says:
. . . The first work of antichrist is, to take away the truth, and change it into falsehood, error, and heresy. The second work of antichrist is, to cover falsehood over with a semblance of truth, and to assert and maintain lies by the name of faith and graces, and to dispense falsehood intermingled with spiritual things. . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The errors and impurities of antichrist, forbidden by the Lord, are these, viz. a various and endless idolatry, against the express command of God and Christ. Divine worship offered not to the Creator, but to the creature, visible and invisible, corporal and spiritual, rational and sensible, natural and artificial, under the name of Christ, or saints, male and female, and to relics and authorities. Unto which creatures they offer the service or worship of faith, and hope, works, prayers, pilgrimages, and alms, oblations, and sacrifices of great price. And those creatures, they serve, honour, and adore several ways, by songs and hymns, speeches, and solemnities, and celebrations of masses, vespers fitted unto the same, by certain hours, vigils, feast-days, thereby to obtain grace, which is essentially in God alone, and meritoriously in Christ, and is to be obtained by faith alone through the Holy Spirit.
And indeed there is nothing else that causeth idolatry, but the false opinions of grace, truth, authority, invocation, intercession, which this antichrist hath deprived God of, to attribute the same to these ceremonies, authorities, the works of a man’s own hands, to saints, and to purgatory. And this iniquity of antichrist is directly against the first article of faith, and against the first commandment of the law.
The inquisitor, AEneas Sylvius, who wrote a history of Bohemia said of the Waldenses, that:
Their third class of errors is as follows. They contemn all ecclesiastical customs which they do not read of in the gospel, such as the observation of Candlemas, Palm-Sunday, the reconciliation of penitents, and the adoration of the cross on Good-Friday. They despise the feast of Easter, and all other festivals of Christ and the saints, and say that one day is as good as another, working upon holy-days, where they can do it without being taken notice of.
(The History of the Christian Church by William Jones, volume II, pages 34-35)
On page 500 of volume I, Jones says, of the Paterines in the eleventh century, that, „They called [the adoration of] the cross the mark of the beast.” The inquisitor AEneas Sylvius, quoted above, who came to be Pope Pius II, and in his words, „had an exact knowledge of the Waldenses,” and attended many of their trials and executions, wrote in his History of Bohemia, in the fourteenth century, that:
They abhor the holy cross, because of Christ’s suffering thereon. Their aversion seems to have been taken from the sermons of those who maintained, that the cross being taken away from Christ, returned of itself. They say, that the wood of the cross is no more than other wood: they do not arm themselves with the sign of the cross. They set no value upon the sepulchre of our Lord, nor of the saints; Matth. „Woe to you, Pharisees, for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets.”
(The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont by Peter Allix, page 255.)
Those sincere Christians recognized the fact that the use of a cross as furniture or decoration is idolatry, relic worship, making a graven image. The Waldenses believed, as Jonas Aurelianensis wrote in the year 820, that, „they ought not to worship Images, nor so much as have them in their Churches” (The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont by Samuel Morland, bookI, chapter III).
Let us consider the origin and history of the cross as a symbol. The Encyclopedia Britannica (1957) says:
The cross has been used both as a religious symbol and as an ornament from the dawn of man’s civilization. Various objects, dating from periods long anterior to the Christian era, have been found, marked with crosses of different designs, in almost every part of the old world. India, Syria, Persia, and Egypt have all yielded numberless examples, while numerous instances, dating from the later Stone age to Christian times, have been found in nearly every part of Europe. The use of the cross as a religious symbol in pre-Christian times and among non-Christian peoples may probably be regarded as almost universal, and in very many cases it was connected with some form of nature worship. Two of the most frequent forms of pre-Christian cross are the tau cross, so named from its resemblance to the Greek capital letter T, and the swastika or fylfot also called „Gammodion” or crux gammata, owing to its form being that of four Greek capital letters gamma placed together. The tau cross with a handle ( crux ansata) often occurs in Egyptian and Assyrian sculptures as a symbol of divinity. The swastika has a very wide range of distribution and is found on all kinds of objects. It was used as a religious emblem in India and China many centuries before the Christian era, and is met with on prehistoric monuments from various parts of Europe, Asia and America. It is, in fact, a device of such common occurrence on objects of pre-Christian origin that it is hardly necessary to specify individual instances. The cross, as a device in different forms and often enclosed in a circle, is of frequent occurrence on coins and medals of pre-Christian date in France and elsewhere. Indeed, objects marked with pre-Christian crosses are to be seen in every important museum.
Early Christian Crosses.-The death of Christ on a cross necessarily conferred a new significance on the figure, which had hitherto been associated with a conception of religion not merely non-Christian, but in essence often directly opposed to it. It was not, however, till the time of Constantine that the cross was publicly used as the symbol of the Christian religion.
On pages 197 and 198 of The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop wrote:
The same sign of the cross that Rome now worships was used in the Babylonian Mysteries, was applied by Paganism to the same magic purposes, was honoured with the same honours. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians–the true original form of the letter T–the initial of the name of Tammuz–which, in Hebrew, radically the same as ancient Chaldee, as found on coins, was formed as in No. 1 of the accompanying woodcut (Fig. 43); and in Etrurian and Coptic, as in Nos. 2 and 3. That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the Mysteries, [Tertullian, De Proescript. Hoeret. cap.40, vol.ii. p.54, and Note. The language of Tertullian implies that those who were initiated by baptism in the Mysteries were marked on the forehead in the same way, as his Christian country-men in Africa, who had begun by this time to be marked in baptism with the sign of the cross.] and was used in every variety of way as a most sacred symbol. To identify Tammuz with the sun it was joined sometimes to the circle of the sun, as in No. 4; sometimes it was inserted in the circle, as in No. 5. [Stephen’s Central America, vol.ii. p.344, Plate 2.] Whether the Maltese cross, which the Romish bishops append to their names as a symbol of their episcopal dignity, is the letter T, may be doubtful; but there seems no reason to doubt that that Maltese cross is an express symbol of the sun; for Layard found it as a sacred symbol in Nineveh in such a connection as led him to identify it with the sun. [Layard’s Nineveh and Babylon, p.211; Nineveh and its Remains, vol.ii, p.446.] The mystic Tau, as the symbol of the great divinity, was called „the sign of life;” it was used as an amulet over the heart; [Wilkinson, vol.i. p.365, Plate.] it was marked on the official garments of the priests, as on the official garments of the priests of Rome; it was borne by kings in their hand, as a token of their dignity or divinely-conferred authority. The Vestal virgins of Pagan Rome wore it suspended from their necklaces, as the nuns do now. [Pere Lafitan, Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains, vol.i. p.442.]
On page 199, Hislop says:
There is hardly a Pagan tribe where the cross has not been found. The cross was worshipped by the Pagan Celts long before the incarnation and death of Christ. [Crabb’s Mythology, p.163.] „It is a fact,” says Maurice, „not less remarkable than well-attested, that the Druids in their groves were accustomed to select the most stately and beautiful tree as an emblem of the Deity they adored, and having cut the side branches, they affixed two of the largest of them to the highest part of the trunk, in such a manner that those branches extended on each side like the arms of a man, and, together with the body, presented the appearance of a HUGE CROSS, and on the bark, in several places, was also inscribed the letter Thau.” [Maurice’s Indian Antiquities, vol.vi.p.49.] It was worshipped in Mexico for ages before the Roman Catholic missionaries set foot there, large stone crosses being erected, probably to the „god of rain.” [Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico, vol.i.p.242.] The cross thus widely worshipped, or regarded as a sacred emblem, was the un-equivocal symbol of Bacchus, the Babylonian Messiah, for he was represented with a head-band covered with crosses. . .
The chapter quoted from, above, by Hislop, closes with this footnote:
If the above remarks be well founded, surely it cannot be right that this sign of the Cross, or emblem of Tammuz, should be used in Christian baptism. At the period of the Revolution, a Royal Commission, appointed to inquire into the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England, numbering among its members eight or ten bishops, strongly recommended that the use of the cross, as tending to superstition, should be laid aside. If such a recommendation was given then, and that by such authority as members of the Church of England must respect, how much ought that recommendation to be enforced by the new light which Providence has cast on the subject!
In consideration of these facts, we must conclude that such a symbol or image has NO place in a Christian life, and definitely does not belong in our „meeting-houses.” There is not a hint in the entire Bible that can honestly be considered as teaching, endorsing, or giving permission to use, make, or have a cross as an image or symbol. If all the above evidence could be discredited, there would still be no wrong done in avoiding the displaying of a cross. But, if these things be true, the use of the symbol is dishonoring our Lord and Saviour, who died on a cross, and is to express an alliance with religious systems that are totally opposite to true Christianity! And, what about bringing in a crowd of children and leading them to pledge their allegiance to a flag with a big red cross on it, and „to the Saviour for whose kingdom it stands”?
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
(Matthew 18:6)
It is to be noticed that people will disobey and disregard the clear and plain teachings of the Bible, but eagerly accept a practice that is not taught in the Bible. Many excuse themselves from doing the „little things that the Bible only mentions once,” but go „whole hog” after pagan practices.
Remember what the Waldenses taught about antichrist. Remember that about the year 1040, the Paterines „called [the adoration of] the cross the mark of the beast.” What if it turns out that the symbol of a cross is literally used in „the mark of the beast”? What effect might our teachings and practice have on those who will be left to face that day?

Lent, Good Friday and Easter by R. F. Becker

Lent, Good Friday and Easter
by R. F. Becker

(NOTE: Mr. Becker is a protestant and writes from that perspective. We must admit, however, that the warning he sounds against participation in Roman paganism is, if anything, even more appropriate for Baptists than for protestants. Mr. Becker exhibits more spiritual discernment than the majority of those who would today profess themselves „Baptists.” He would seem closer to practicing „the faith once delivered unto the saints” than those modern „Baptists” who join Rome in her abominations.)

„Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen.” (Jeremiah 10:2)
„Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the earth drunken” (Jer. 51:7).
„Come out of her, my people, that ye may not have fellowship with her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven and God hath remembered her iniquities” (Rev. 18:4, 5).

God has recorded much in His Word of the wicked idolatry of ancient Babylon. Her sins became a dreadful and lasting curse to all nations. And man’s history since those days has been affected and polluted by them.

God has also revealed by His Spirit that „Babylon the Great” of Rev. 17 is in very essence that selfsame Babylon of old. And that woman, which the Apostle John saw, with her name on her forehead, arrayed in purple and scarlet and gold, and drunken with the blood of the saints and the martyrs of Jesus has long ago been identified as the Roman Catholic Church.

Now the ancient idolatry of Babylon has been the root of nearly every heathen religion. But in every known form of idolatry there has been more or less deviation from the original Chaldee worship. Only in the Roman Catholic Church has the paganism of Babylon of old remained pure. To realize that this same idolatry of Belshazzar’s day is still influencing our lives should make every true believer shudder.

But the thought of Christians joining hand in hand with pagans in supporting and enjoying Babylon’s idolatry, now revived in the Roman Catholic Church, ought to make every soul that loves Christ’s Name and Blood, shrink in holy horror. For He who liveth forever and ever has decreed in the verses above that whoever partakes of Babylon’s sins shall suffer in Babylon’s judgments (Rev. 18:4).

Now that particular part of Rome’s Babylonish idolatry about which I wish to speak very plainly is her festivals. For it is in these celebrations and observances that Rome not only so sadly deludes her own superstitious slaves, but she also causes many weak Christians to err and sin grievously against Christ.

Now just a few words to the Protestant Church members:

There are three kinds of people in the professing Church of God. First there are those few who are truly godly, and can always be depended upon to be valiant for Truth. Then there are those professors whose hearts we have great reason to fear are not right before God. These are sure, under whatever test they may be found to turn up on the side of those who oppose the things of the Holy Spirit. This tract is for neither of these. To the godly saint it is needless. To the empty professor it would he useless.

But there is one more type of person in the Protestant Church, and it is to them especially I address this tract.

It is to the many weak and carnal believers who have unwittingly kept Rome’s festivals in their own churches, neither realizing the origin nor the idolatrous nature of them, that I appeal. It is to the weak Christians in pulpit and pew, who would fain please everybody and offend nobody, who forget that they should please God first of all, that I write, hoping this may be a help to them.

This type of believer, though he does seem to have saving faith, yet is a disappointment to the godly. There is something weak about the way these take up with men’s traditions. They often appear to be trying to walk as close to the broad road as they can without really being on it. And they are very ingenious in discovering reasons for what they do; reasons which cannot be found in Scripture; reasons which appeal to the flesh.

This weak believer within our Protestant church seems to feel he is under obligation to be present or have a part in his church’s celebrations of Babylonish festivals. Having never been taught the truth, he does not realize that in these observances his own church is only aping Rome, and that Christmas and Lent and Easter are pagan to the very core. They never once think that God does not look lightly on idolatry, as many suppose, and they are breaking willfully the greatest of all commandments, to which God’s dreadful threatening is attached (Ex. 20:5).

One of the great evils of the early churches of Ephesus and Pergamos was the false teachings of the Nicolaitanes. These declared that it was no sin to engage in idolatry. They also denied that the Father created the universe, yet they still professed to be Christians (Rev. 2:6, 15).

In Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible we read: „This sect, like the false prophet of Pethor, united brave words with evil deeds. Mingling themselves in the orgies of idolatrous feasts they brought the impurities of those feasts unto the Christian church. All this was done as a part of a system supported by a doctrine accompanied by the boast of prophetic illumination.”

Is not this what we see in our churches today at Christmas and Easter? One of the greatest of all abominations to God is false worship. Romanism is the extreme ultra-development of Satanic subtlety in worship. For she is very Babylon in idolatry under the disguise and name of Christ! Christian! How then can you take part in her sins? How can you keep the feasts of paganism and join its unholy corruption to the Wonderful Name of Christ?

Now, there may be some who read this who will be disposed to utterly condemn what is written in this tract. Let them consider here the words of the great Dr. Paley: „There is a principle which is a bar against all information; which is proof against all argument, which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. That principle is ‘CONTEMPT prior to EXAMINATION’.”

However I am sure that every honest soul will be inclined to search himself and try his ways as he reads on, and if he is guilty of observing paganism will become sorrowful and say to Christ in tears „Is it I?” (Mark 14:19). Only the unsound and unreal resent searching.

The religious festivals of Rome are legion. Our 1950 calendar is crowded with them. And the jubilee year of Pius XII will bring more. Space prohibits dealing with them all here. Let us look only at Christmas, Lent, Good Friday and Easter. And as we look at these Romish festivals that people love so well, let us remember the words of our Saviour: „This people honoreth me with their lips but their heart is FAR from me” (Mark 7:6).

CHRISTMAS

In another booklet, „The Truth About Christmas,” I have shown how our Romish Christmas is only a combination of the Catholic „Mass” and the name of Christ. So it will be sufficient to state here that this annual festive season was held in the month Thebeth (our December) in Babylon, long before the birth of Christ, in honor of the birth of Tammuz (Ez. 8:14), the son of Semeramis, the Chaldean queen of heaven. As the Satanic „mystery of iniquity,” spoken of by Paul (in II Thess. 2:7) developed in the early church during the third and fourth centuries, the idolatries of this pagan festival were incorporated into the Roman Catholic system, in pretense of honoring Christ’s birth.

LENT

Let us begin our study of Lent by asking, as many will, If this observance of abstinence is wrong, how did it become so universal? How did it come to occupy so large a space on our calendar?

Why, the Roman Catholic Church put it there during the sixth century! She „borrowed” the 40 days called „Lent” from the worshippers of the Babylonian queen of heaven.

Let not my reader suppose that Lent is observed only in the Roman Church and our anemic Protestant churches today.

In Layard’s „Nineveh and Babylon,” page 93, we learn that Lent is observed by the Yezidis, devil-worshippers of Koordistan. They inherited this heathen fast fashion from their early Babylonian masters.

In Humboldt’s „Mexican Researches,” volume 1, page 404, we find how the pagan Mexicans kept a Lent. „Three days after the vernal equinox began a solemn Lent, Good Friday and Easter fast of forty days in honor of the sun.”

In Landseer’s „Sabean Researches,” page 112, we are informed how an Egyptian Lent of 40 days was held expressly in honor of Adonis or Osiris, the great mediatorial god. So we can see Rome is by no means original in observing her pagan Lent.

Just as on December 25 a great celebration and feast was held in Babylon in honor of the birth of Tammuz so in that same country the 40 days’ fast was observed as an important preliminary of the great feast held in commemoration of the death and resurrection of the same idol! And this same Lent was observed in Babylon by alternate weeping and rejoicing, just as Rome today has her poor blind subjects keep holy-weeks by alternate days of joy and sorrow. Lent was first observed in Assyria and Palestine in the month of June. In Egypt it was the month of May when it was kept. When it finally migrated to Britain this pagan fast was observed in April. It seems to be a most flexible fast suitable for
any type of pagan idolatry. For I notice that in 1950 the Roman Lent begins in February!

Rome’s method of enveloping Babylon’s Lent and incorporating it into her ritual should he noticed. About the year 525, Rome, pursuing her usual policy of absorbing the pagan observances and in order to gain nominal adherents to the church, engineered a new religious merger. Under the shrewd management of the Abbot Dionysus the Little, the pagan Lent was established as a church observance. And so the Church, now controlled from Rome, and fast sinking into every form of corruption, added yet this evil of a „sacred fast” to her list of idolatries. In his manipulations to fit a 40-day Lent into the calendar this same Dionysus caused the approximate date of Christ’s birth to be changed four years later than the truth. This change of calendar brought in the grossest corruption and
rankest superstition in connection with the abstinence of Lent. It was only the beginning of another form of Roman evil.

An early Christian of Marseilles, writing in the fifth century, said: „It ought to be known that the observance of the 40 days’ fast had no existence so long as the primitive church remained pure.”

Rome has modernized and streamlined her Lent to fit the present. And the Lent, Good Friday and Easter lukewarm so-called Protestants have followed her, as is their habit. In theirobservance of Lent they only prove how the virus of Jesuit paganism has numbedtheir sense of sin. Well could our Lord say of the professing Protestants whoobserve Lent: „Ye do dishonor me” (John 8:49). Perhaps it is needless to remark about the ordinary individual’s observance of Lent. It does not even deserve comment. The world’s fast is no fast at all, say nothing of a „sacred fast.” One gives up chocolate bars. Another does not eat butter. Another smokes one cigarette per day instead of ten or twenty. Still
another refrains from drinking only one glass of beer or wine or whiskey per day! So sunk in sin is man that by these Romish pagan denials of the flesh, he supposes he is placing himself in God’s favor.

Christian, can you take part in such a mockery of God as Lent, which not only brings ignominy upon the name of Christ, but helps to ruin the souls of thousands and thousands? Remember one more fact. The Rome that put Lent on our calendar is that same scarlet woman that has shed the blood of millions of the martyrs of Jesus, and has sent billions of her own slaves out into eternal night believing the LIE. Can you take Rome’s bloody hand in yours and join her in observing a pagan season she has stolen from Babylon of old? What is a fast that brings honor to Christ Listen to Isaiah:

„Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high . . . Is not THIS the last that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? . . . Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the GLORY of the Lord shall be thy rereward” (Isa. 58:4-8).

GOOD FRIDAY

Here is another Popish holy-day that has caused many weak believers to sin. But we find no authority for its observance in the Bible. Whence all this annual ado and false concern by the ungodly who care naught for a heart cleansed from sin? And why are so many Christians moved into observing Rome’s religious delusion? The answer is not hard to detect. „Good Friday” celebrations appeal to the flesh and the emotions. It is NOT the Crucifixion of Christ that interests people in the passion plays and services. It is the Pope’s holy-day with its pomp and ceremony, thrilling the senses, that attracts those who are ignorant of Scripture. Jesus said: „Blessed are they that have NOT seen yet have believed.” And is it not sad how Rome’s pagan ritual has permeated nearly the whole lump of professing Christendom? No wonder Jeremiah the prophet once said to apostate idolatrous Israel: „Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the Lord: Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this”‘ (Jer. 9:9).
Any thoughtful student unbiased by tradition or men’s imagination will have no difficulty in understanding that our Lord Jesus Christ did not die on a Friday. Proof of this fact is in the following verses:
„For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be THREE DAYS and THREE NIGIITS in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:40).

„And He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and AFTER THREE DAYS rise again” (Mark 8:31).

„Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, AFTER THREE DAYS I will rise again” (Matt. 27:63).

„And that He was buried, and that He rose again the THIRD DAY according to
the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:4).

In John 11:9, we read: „Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day?” Here our Lord teaches that twelve hours make a day. Therefore in His reckoning a day and a night are exactly 24 hours.

In the Jewish order of time the night preceded the day (Gen. 1:5; Mark 15:33). The night began at 6 o’clock in the evening, ending at 6 o’clock in the morning, when the day began.

Now, from the Scriptures quoted, we conclude one important fact. Christ was in the tomb after His death and before His resurrection three days and three nights, which make 72 hours–no less.

In each of the four Gospel records we read of Mary of Magdala and others coming to the sepulchre to anoint the body of Jesus. If we carefully consider them all, one fact stands out beyond any question. That is, when they came to the grave, Jesus was gone. In Matt. 28 we have the record of the angel rolling away the stone. But this was not to liberate the Lord of Glory. It was only to show the world that He was gone. Sometime before the women witnessed the tomb unsealing our Saviour had come forth from the dead. The angel said: „He is risen, He is not here.”

We know that haste was made by those who put Christ in the tomb of Joseph in order to have him buried before the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath, which began at 6 o’clock in the evening. And we read in John 19:31 „for that Sabbath was an high day.” Now this Sabbath was the Passover Sabbath and did not come on Saturday. The weekly Sabbath or seventh day or Saturday was not called a „high day.” But sometimes special feasts among the Jews were called Sabbaths or „high days” even if they did not fall on Saturday. Thus we learn from John 19:31 that Jesus was buried by His sorrowing followers the EVENING before the HIGH DAY Sabbath.

Now Christ could never have been buried on a Friday evening or He would not have risen until Monday evening to fulfill Matt. 12:40 and the others we quoted. He could not have been entombed on a Thursday evening or He would not have risen until the evening of the first day of the week, or Sunday. And He could not have risen early Sunday morning either because three days and three nights before that or 72 hours would have been Thursday MORNING, and we know He was buried in the evening.

‘Therefore we have only one deduction left if we abide carefully by the Scriptures. Our Lord must have risen at the very end of the THIRD day or about 6 o’clock in the evening. He arose at the end of the weekly Sabbath. He was in the tomb we know during the High Day Passover Sabbath. He was gone when the women came to His grave very early on the first day of the week. Thus the Crucifixion of the Son of God as recorded in the Bible must have taken place on–Wednesday.

So we find that the very root of all „Good Friday” observances is based on untruth. It is only another Romish invention designed for her profit, which weans men from truth and turns them to fables.

EASTER

What is Easter? One of Rome’s most valuable pagan observances, transplanted from Babylon, in pretense of remembering Christ’s resurrection, yet in reality a festival of a Chaldean goddess. And here again the feeble Protestants and the blaspheming Modernists have aped the Mother of harlots in bringing Babylon’s ritual into their churches. And this mustard seed of Romish planting has verily filled the whole earth with its branches.

What about the name „Easter?” Like its Mother Babylon the Great (Rev. 17.5) Easter has its name on its forehead. It is not a Christian name. It came from idolatrous Chaldea. Easter is nothing but the name ‘Astarte” or „Ishtar,” one of the many names of the Babylonian goddess, Semeramis. As to the name „Easter” being in the King James version of our Bible, we find that the same Greek word which is rendered „Easter” in Acts 12:4 is „Passover” in all other places in the New Testament. In all revised versions the word in Acts 12:4 is „Passover.” Even in the Catholic Douay Bible the word is „Pasch” meaning „Passover.”

In Babylonish worship, Semeramis, the queen of heaven, as Astarte, was symbolized by a dove or the „Mediatrix” without whose intercession none could ever be born anew. In our day the same pagan blasphemy is taught to Roman Catholics, only the Chaldee Astarte has become „Mary Mediatrix, the Mother of God!” And how little do Catholics themselves realize that in their Easter ceremonies, the madonna they worship as being without sin is only a Roman copy of the Chaldean queen of heaven from wicked Babylon of old!

In the Apostolic days of the true Church the believers remembered the death and resurrection of Christ every day. In Acts 20:7 this remembrance feast of breaking bread and drinking of wine was held on the first day of the week. This remembrance of Christ was kept in obedience to the words of Jesus Himself in Luke 22:18, 19 and Paul’s admonition of I Cor. 11:23 to 26. Such was the love of those who had accompanied our Saviour in His ministry, and had seen the end of the Lord (James 5:11) that while they lived, the worshippers in the infant Church allowed no idolatry to corrupt the true honoring of Christ. It was only as the anti-Christ „mystery of iniquity” that Paul spoke of in II Thess. 2 began to slowly unfold itself, that the outlawed pagan observances appeared in the true Church. Among the early Christians we find no trace of an annual observance of the resurrection of Christ. The festival we read of in church history of the third and fourth centuries was not called „Easter.” It was called „Pasch” or „Passover” because it took place at the time of the Jewish feast of that name. It was altogether different than the Roman Catholic Easter in our churches today. This feast was not of Apostolic origin, yet it was not idolatrous nor was it preceded by a Lent. Until the end of the second century this feast was observed on March 23rd.

Even in Rome itself this „Pasch” festival very slowly took on the form of an idolatrous observance. There seems to be no mention of the word Easter in the annual feast until around 450 A. D. Then the Roman Church in its gradual development of the apostasy, gave the Christian „Pasch” the name of the
Babylonian goddess „Astarte.” In 519 A. D. it was decreed in the Council of Aurelia that Lent should be kept before „Easter.” So the name „Easter” must have been used first to replace the name „Astarte” or „Ishtar” under Rome’s manipulation sometime between 450 A. D. and 519 A. D.

And is it not very significant to the thoughtful reader that in the selfsame era—in the year 476–about the time the word „Easter” was first used by the Roman Church, there was also inaugurated in that same Church, the long and evil reign of the „man of sin,” the „son of perdition,” the „dark ages” of the papal anti-Christ?

It was not until the end of the sixth century, however, that paganism, now rapidly taking on great proportions in the Roman Church, forced the observance of Easter into the calendar.

In Britain this replacing of the Christian Passover with Lent and the worship of Astarte as Easter, met at first with great resistance, since there was a full month difference in the time of the two observances. Only after violence and bloodshed did the papal power cause the worship of Astarte, now called Easter, to displace and then eclipse that which was formerly done to honor Jesus Christ.

Now a few words about the customs of Easter. The hot cross buns as well as the dyed eggs figured in the Chaldean rites of Babylon’s worship. Buns were known to have been used in worship of the goddess Easter in the days of Cecrops, the founder of Athens. The ancient Druids of the British Isles used eggs in their heathen worship. In the mysteries of Bacchus, celebrated in ancient Athens, one part of their pagan ceremony was to consecrate an egg! In Hindoo paganism eggs of a golden color are used in their celebrations. The Shinto worshipping Japanese have sacred eggs of brazen hue. In China at this hour painted eggs are used in idolatrous festivals. Eggs were used in religious rites of the Egyptians and hung in their heathen temples for mystic purposes.

Before we pass on we ought to consider how an egg became an emblem of our Easter. Many are the tales from the pens of heathen writers but one from Babylon will suffice. Listen to Hyginus, keeper of the Palatine library in Rome in the days of Augustus. He said: „An egg of wondrous size fell down from heaven into the river Euphrates. The fishes rolled it to the bank. The doves settled upon it and hatched it and out came Venus, who was afterwards called the Syrian goddess Astarte!”

So much for the ancient Easter eggs. But now in the twentieth century our educated, cultured and refined generation of pagans have improved upon the egg idolatry of Babylon. We have progressed since then! So before our very eyes religious, professing church-going parents brazenly deceive their own little children into believing that rabbits lay colored eggs in beautiful baskets for Easter!

What a dreadful judgment awaits a nation of people, who in the clear light of the blessed Gospel, can annually perpetuate such high handed idolatrous evil.

„Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
„A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and My people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jer. 5:30, 31).

This is a day of shallow thinking and shallow profession. And the stream of so-called Christians which is polluted by Rome’s festivals is very wide. So well have her doctrines of falsehood developed that most refuse to believe that this leaven from Babylon exists in our midst. But the naked fact remains; Protestants have been so thoroughly drugged by Rome’s doctrines and festivals we hardly know our right hand from the left.

Now since the Roman Catholic Church is indeed Babylon the Great of Rev. 17 and her „Virgin Mary” is none other than the Chaldean „Mediatrix,” or queen of heaven, how utterly should everyone who loves Christ forsake her festivals, and how forcibly should we condemn them! Jesus Christ preached against false prophets. So did Paul and Peter and John and many others of Christ’s own faithful ones, down through the generations till now. Then whence this hush! hush! Hands off! policy in so many pulpits today? Why is the True and Living church frightened into silence about these things by the false church? Why do so many pastors in places of responsibility stand so helplessly by while Rome makes of us a generation of pagans with her idolatries?

What shall I say more of this Easter problem? And what shall I say of you who profess the Name of Christ who follow Rome to her shrines of Christmas and Easter? Can you church people, after knowing the way of salvation and righteousness willfully and shamelessly embrace Babylon’s idols and fondle her wicked paganism further?

And you timid pastors, why do you fear to warn your flocks against the idolatries of the mother of harlots? Why do you hold out one hand to Rome’s heathen festivals while holding the open Bible in the other?

What would Christ say of you? What would the Christian martyrs say—what would the faithful reformers say–what would the Puritan fathers of our country say, if they could be here and see you allowing the faith they fought for and died for to be sacrificed upon the altars of Babylon the Great by their own Protestant heirs, now stupefied by the pomp and glitter of Rome?

The spirit of God said long ago, „Come out of her, My people, that ye have no fellowship with her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). But weak Christians and lukewarm churches have not come out of Babylon’s festivals. Rather they have invited them into the midst of their holy places. They have kept them there. They have loved them well. They have fondled them and
embraced them to their bosoms.

Hence, according to God’s promise, we have Rome’s festival plague upon us. She is daily pouring out her vials of blasphemy around us. Daily a flood of iniquity from the great dragon flows forth. And if the blood-bought Church does not repent of her idolatrous folly, and come out of her sins, who can tell what hour we shall see the hand of the mother of abominations of the earth destroy our church and nation?

„Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the Lord” (Jer. 50:14).

What Is Easter? E. G. Cook

What Is Easter?
E. G. Cook
Former Pastor – Philadelphia Baptist Church
Birmingham , Alabama
(Now In Glory)
I would like to beg your indulgence for a few minutes while we study the subject of Easter together. And I pray we may do this studying with an open mind. After all that is the only way we will ever learn anything. So long as I do not want to learn about that particular thing you cannot teach me one single thing about it, no matter how badly I need to know it.
So, with that in mind, I believe you will agree with me that Easter is probably the greatest festival of the whole religious world. It is supposed to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a movable feast, that is, it does not always fall on the same date.The Council at Nicaea held in 325 A.D. by the apostate churches who had just recently been married to the Roman state decided that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox which is March 21st. I will have to admit that I do not know what the moon had to do with my Lord’s resurrection. As a result of this decision by the Council at Nicaea, Easter may fall on any date from March 22nd to April 25th.

The name „Easter” comes from Eostre the name of a Teutonic goddess of spring. She was a pagan goddess, but when this old religious world wanted another religious festival, they just anglicized the name of this pagan goddess of spring, and they had Easter. The Catholic Church has, through the centuries, followed the practice of giving pagan observances Christian names. And by doing that she made it possible for pagans to go right on with their pagan worship and still be good Catholics. They just called the pagan worship by a Christian name, but it was still pagan worship just the same. And though Easter is supposed to commemorate our ‘Lords resurrection, it sometimes falls on a day that is more than three weeks before the actual date of the resurrection. In the light of Scriptures like Luke 23:54, John 19:14, 31 and I Corinthians 5:7 we know that our Lord was crucified on the day of the Passover. And according to Leviticus 23:5 the Passover fell on the 14th day of their first month, Abib which is April 14th on our calendar. Then according to Matthew 20:19, Mark 9:31; 10:34 and Luke 1 8:33, 24:7 He rose again in the third day. I believe a third grade school child should be able to tell you that the 17th day of April is the third day after April 14th. If I wanted to celebrate my Lord’s resurrection just one time a year, I most certainly would do it on April 1 7th, because that is the date on which He rose. I was born in April, and I have never celebrated my birthday in March.

Still Easter fell on March 26th in 1967, some three weeks before April 1 7th. And in spite of that the Catholic Church, and a lot of even Baptist Churches told their people that this is the day our Lord rose from the dead. In 1968 Easter fell on April 14th. In 1969 it was April 6th, and in 1970 it was March 29th, but still most of you were told that this is the day our Lord rose from the dead. This year this heathen feast falls on April 1 9th, but still that is two days after the date our Lord rose. How gullible can some of our Lord’s saints be in order to be popular? I am so thankful that my Lord has delivered me from the heathenism theCatholic Church has crammed down the throats of so many of our dear Lord’s saints. But for the amazing grace of God I would be worshipping all that junk myself. Really and truly dear Christian friend, is there just one thing connected with Easter that makes any sense? There are so many abominable things in the eyes of Almighty God that are connected with Easter.

There is Lent that so many Baptists are observing at this time, March 14th. Then there is Ash Wednesday, Passion Sunday, Passion week, Palm Sunday, Holy week and Good Friday. And even though our Lord’s entire earthly ministry lay in between His forty days fasting in the wilderness and His resurrection, still we are told that the forty days Lenten season is in commemoration of His forty days fasting. Some three and a half years elapsed between His fasting and His resurrection, but if you notice, Lent ends at the very hour Easter begins. There is no time lapse at all between them. This should arouse the curiosity of all thinking people. And I believe that if you become curious enough to look into the matter for yourself, you will find that Lent really commemorates an altogether different forty days.

Soon after the Flood Nimrod, Abraham’s great grandson, and his followers founded a false religious system known as Babylonian Mysticism. According to tradition Nimrod’s wife Semiramis was the first queen of heaven. She, according to this tradition, had a son named Tammuz who was according to this tradition, killed by a wild boar, and after forty days came back to life. Lent and Easter really commemorate these forty days, and this resurrection. When you come to see that the Catholic Church is nothing in the world but christianized Babylonian Mysticism, that is, that it is nothing but that old false religious system with a Christian name, you should have no trouble in seeing where they get all their feast days, and other evil practices.

And then when we come to the day called Good Friday, may I ask you a simple question in all sincerity, and in all humility? In the clear teaching of the precious Word of God, when we say that our Lord was crucified on Friday, do we not accuse Him of outright lying? We may do it unintentionally through ignorance, but do we not do it just the same? In Matthew 12:40 our Lord said, „As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly: so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The word ‘whale’ here comes from KETOS which means a great fish, see Jonah 1:17. Now we either believe Matthew 12:40 or we do not believe it. There is no middle ground. And I beg of you to notice that this Scripture says absolutely nothing about a little tiny part of a day. It is the Catholic Church that does that. We know from Scriptures like Matthew 27:57-60, and John 19:38-42 our Lord was buried late in the evening, at the end of the day. So we cannot be honest with the Scriptures and count that day as one of the three days He was to spend in the heart of the earth.

I am going to say something now that may startle some one. But if I do not prove my statement by the Word of God, just forget it. No one should believe what any preacher or teacher says unless he proves it by the Scriptures. I contend, and declare that Christ was not crucified on Friday, and neither did He rise on Sunday morning. Even the great magician Houdini could not find three days and three nights between Friday evening late and Sunday morning early. And neither can the pope of Rome find them there either. They are just not there. So if you believe Matthew 12:40, you simply cannot believe that Christ was crucified on Friday. And if you believe Christ was crucified on Friday, you might as well forget about Matthew 12:40. They are diametrically opposed to each other.

You will recall that I said Christ did not rise on Sunday morning. Someone may be saying I should read Matthew 28:1-2. I am aware of the earthquake that occurred that Sunday morning when the angel rolled the stone from the mouth of the tomb. According to Luke 24:2 and John 20:1 this took place before daylight that morning. But you and I both know the angel did not have to roll that stone from the mouth of the tomb in order to let the Lord of glory out, but rather to let the disciples in. Since He could come into the room where the disciples were with the door shut, He could also come out of that tomb with the stone still over its mouth. Now if we are ready to admit that Christ was buried at the end of day, and that He was in the grave three days and three nights, or 72 hours, I believe we will be forced to admit that He was buried at the end of the day on Wednesday, and that He rose at the same time of the day on Saturday. In that way He was in the heart of the earth Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And He was there Wednesday night, Thursday night and Friday night. Is there really anything other than the teaching of the Catholic Curch that would hinder you from believing that?

I know someone is saying, yes, but the Bible says the next day after the crucifixion was the
sabbath day. This, to, is where the Catholic Church has misled the people. Certainly the Bible teaches that the next day after our Lord was crucified was a sabbath day. In John 19:31 John tells us that this sabbath was a high day, that is, it was a special sabbath. It was not just the common seventh day sabbath. We have already seen that our Lord was crucified on the day of the Passover. In I Corinthians 5:7b we read, „for even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us”. Now if we turn to Exodus 12:1 6 we will find that a special sabbath fell on the next day after the Passover. Here we are told that the people were not to do anything on this day except to eat. This is the high sabbath that fell on the day following our Lord’s crucifixion. There is no reason under Heaven for us to believe that the sabbath mentioned in John 19:31 was Saturday.

Yes, I am aware that you can find the word „Easter in your Bible. But the word „Easter” in Acts 12:4 comes from the Greek word PASCHA which means Passover. But the Episcopalian translators of the King James version, the scared Catholics that they were, loved their Easter so much that they just had to put it in the Bible somewhere. So they just mistranslated this word PASCHA in order to do it. Your pastor knows this to be true, or at least he should know it. Ask him why he still leads the church in the observance of all the heathen days. His answer just might amuse you. In Galatians 4:10-11, Paul says „Ye observe days, and months, and times (seasons], and years. I am afraid of you, least I have bestowed upon you labor in vain”. Paul is saying that he is afraid that his labor among them has been in vain because that after he has labored among them they are still observing those old days, months, seasons, etc.

But let us remember, Paul had never heard of Christmas, Easter, Good Friday and a lot of other abominable days and seasons you and I have had crammed down our throats by the Catholic Church in our day. What would he say to the Baptist Churches of our land and country today if he were writing a letter to them? May we come to see that all this heathenism dishonors our dear Lord, and keeps our minds off His precious Word.

Easter

Easter
The English term, according to the Ven. Bede (De temporum ratione, I, v), relates to Estre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and spring, which deity, however, is otherwise unknown, even in the Edda (Simrock, Mythol., 362); Anglo-Saxon, eâster, eâstron; Old High German, ôstra, ôstrara, ôstrarûn; German, Ostern. April was called easter-monadh. The plural eâstron is used, because the feast lasts seven days. Like the French plural Pâques, it is a translation from the Latin Festa Paschalia, the entire octave of Easter. The Greek term for Easter, pascha, has nothing in common with the verb paschein, „to suffer,” although by the later symbolic writers it was connected with it; it is the Aramaic form of the Hebrew word pesach (transitus, passover). The Greeks called Easter the pascha anastasimon; Good Friday the pascha staurosimon. The respective terms used by the Latins are Pascha resurrectionis and Pascha crucifixionis. In the Roman and Monastic Breviaries the feast bears the title Dominica Resurrectionis; in the Mozarbic Breviary, In Lætatione Diei Pasch Resurrectionis; in the Ambrosian Breviary, In Die Sancto Paschæ. The Romance languages have adopted the Hebrew-Greek term: Latin, Pascha; Italian, Pasqua; Spanish, Pascua; French, <I<P&ACIRC;QUES.Also some Celtic and Teutonic nations use it: Scottish, Pask; Dutch, Paschen; Danish, Paaske; Swedish, Pask; even in the German provinces of the Lower Rhine the people call the feast Paisken not Ostern. The word is, principally in Spain and Italy, identified with the word „solemnity” and extended to other feasts, e.g. Sp., Pascua florida, Palm Sunday; Pascua de Pentecostes, Pentecost; Pascua de la Natividad, Christmas; Pascua de Epifania, Epiphany. In some parts of France also First Communion is called Pâques, whatever time of the year administered.
THE FEAST
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year. The order of Sundays from Septuagesima to the last Sunday after Pentecost, the feast of the Ascension, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and all other movable feasts, from that of the Prayer of Jesus in the Garden (Tuesday after Septuagesima) to the feast of the Sacred Heart (Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi), depend upon the Easter date. Commemorating the slaying of the true Lamb of God and the Resurrection of Christ, the corner-stone upon which faith is built, it is also the oldest feast of the Christian Church, as old as Christianity, the connecting link between the Old and New Testaments. That the Apostolic Fathers do not mention it and that we first hear of it principally through the controversy of the Quartodecimans are purely accidental. The connection between the Jewish Passover and the Christian feast of Easter is real and ideal. Real, since Christ died on the first Jewish Easter Day; ideal, like the relation between type and reality, because Christ’s death and Resurrection had its figures and types in the Old Law, particularly in the paschal lamb, which was eaten towards evening of the 14th of Nisan. In fact, the Jewish feast was taken over into the Christian Easter celebration; the liturgy (Exsultet) sings of the passing of Israel through the Red Sea, the paschal lamb, the column of fire, etc. Apart, however, from the Jewish feast, the Christians would have celebrated the anniversary of the death and the Resurrection of Christ. But for such a feast it was necessary to know the exact calendar date of Christ’s death. To know this day was very simple for the Jews; it was the day after the 14th of the first month, the 15th of Nisan of their calendar. But in other countries of the vast Roman Empire there were other systems of chronology. The Romans from 45 B.C. had used the reformed Julian calendar; there were also the Egyptian and the Syro-Macedonian calendar. The foundation of the Jewish calendar was the lunar year of 354 days, whilst the other systems depended on the solar year. In consequence the first days of the Jewish months and years did not coincide with any fixed days of the Roman solar year. Every fourth year of the Jewish system had an intercalary month. Since this month was inserted, not according to some scientific method or some definite rule, but arbitrarily, by command of the Sanhedrin, a distant Jewish date can never with certainty be transposed into the corresponding Julian or Gregorian date (Ideler, Chronologie, I, 570 sq.). The connection between the Jewish and the Christian Pasch explains the movable character of this feast. Easter has no fixed date, like Christmas, because the 15th of Nisan of the Semitic calendar was shifting from date to date on the Julian calendar. Since Christ, the true Paschal Lamb, had been slain on the very day when the Jews, in celebration of their Passover, immolated the figurative lamb, the Jewish Christians in the Orient followed the Jewish method, and commemorated the death of Christ on the 15th of Nisan and His Resurrection on the 17th of Nisan, no matter on what day of the week they fell. For this observance they claimed the authority of St. John and St. Philip.
In the rest of the empire another consideration predominated. Every Sunday of the year was a commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ, which had occurred on a Sunday. Because the Sunday after 14 Nisan was the historical day of the Resurrection, at Rome this Sunday became the Christian feast of Easter. Easter was celebrated in Rome and Alexandria on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, and the Roman Church claimed for this observance the authority of Sts. Peter and Paul. The spring equinox in Rome fell on 25 March; in Alexandria on 21 March. At Antioch Easter was kept on the Sunday after the Jewish Passover. (See EASTER CONTROVERSY.) In Gaul a number of bishops, wishing to escape the difficulties of the paschal computation, seem to have assigned Easter to a fixed date of the Roman calendar, celebrating the death of Christ on 25 March, His Resurrection on 27 March (Marinus Dumiensis in P.L., LXXII, 47-51), since already in the third century 25 March was considered the day of the Crucifixion (Computus Pseudocyprianus, ed. Lersch, Chronologie, II, 61). This practice was of short duration. Many calendars in the Middle Ages contain these same dates (25 March, 27 March) for purely historical, not liturgical, reasons (Grotenfend, Zeitrechnung, II, 46, 60, 72, 106, 110, etc.). The Montanists in Asia Minor kept Easter on the Sunday after 6 April (Schmid, Osterfestberechnung in der abendlandischen Kirche). The First Council of Nicaea (325) decreed that the Roman practice should be observed throughout the Church. But even at Rome the Easter term was changed repeatedly. Those who continued to keep Easter with the Jews were called Quartodecimans (14 Nisan) and were excluded from the Church. The computus paschalis, the method of determining the date of Easter and the dependent feasts, was of old considered so important that Durandus (Rit. div. off., 8, c.i.) declares a priest unworthy of the name who does not know the computus paschalis. The movable character of Easter (22 March to 25 April) gives rise to inconveniences, especially in modern times. For decades scientists and other people have worked in vain for a simplification of the computus, assigning Easter to the first Sunday in April or to the Sunday nearest the 7th of April. Some even wish to put every Sunday to a certain date of the month, e.g. beginning with New Year’s always on a Sunday, etc. [See L. Günther, „Zeitschrift Weltall” (1903); Sandhage and P. Dueren in „Pastor bonus” (Trier, 1906); C. Tondini, „L’Italia e la questione del Calendario” (Florence, 1905).]
THE EASTER OFFICE AND MASS
The first Vespers of Easter are connected now with the Mass of Holy Saturday, because that Mass was formerly celebrated in the evening (see HOLY SATURDAY); they consist of only one psalm (cxvi) and the Magnificat. The Matins have only one Nocturn; the Office is short, because the clergy were busy with catechumens, the reconciliation of sinners, and the distribution of alms, which were given plentifully by the rich on Easter Day. This peculiarity of reciting only one Nocturn was extended by some churches from the octave of Easter to the entire paschal time, and soon to all the feasts of the Apostles and similar high feasts of the entire ecclesiastical year. This observance is found in the German Breviaries far up into the nineteenth century („Brev. Monaster.”, 1830; Baumer, „Breview”, 312). The octave of Easter ceases with None of Saturday and on Sunday the three Nocturns with the eighteen psalms of the ordinary Sunday Office are recited. Many churches, however, during the Middle Ages and later (Brev. Monaster., 1830), on Low Sunday (Dominica in Albis) repeated the short Nocturn of Easter Week. Before the usus Romanae Curiae (Baumer, 301). was spread by the Franciscans over the entire Church the eighteen (or twenty-four) psalms of the regular Sunday Matins were, three by three, distributed over the Matins of Easter Week (Bäumer, 301). This observance is still one of the peculiarities of the Carmelite Breviary. The simplified Breviary of the Roman Cria (twelfth century) established the custom of repeating Psalms i, ii, iii, every day of the octave. From the ninth to the thirteenth century in most dioceses, during the entire Easter Week the two precepts of hearing Mass and of abstaining from servile work were observed (Kellner, Heortologie, 17); later on this law was limited to two days (Monday and Tuesday), and since the end of the eighteenth century, to Monday only. In the United States even Monday is no holiday of obligation. The first three days of Easter Week are doubles of the first class, the other days semi-doubles. During this week, in the Roman Office, through immemorial custom the hymns are omitted, or rather were never inserted. The ancient ecclesiastical Office contained no hymns, and out of respect for the great solemnity of Easter and the ancient jubilus „Haec Dies”, the Roman Church did not touch the old Easter Office by introducing hymns. Therefore to the present day the Office of Easter consists only of psalms, antiphons, and the great lessons of Matins. Only the „Victimae Paschali” was adopted in most of the churches and religious orders in the Second Vespers. The Mozarabic and Ambrosian Offices use the Ambrosian hymn „Hic est dies versus Dei” in Lauds and Vespers, the Monastic Breviary, „Ad coenam Agni providi” at Vespers, „Chorus novae Jerusalem” at Matins, and „Aurora lucis rutilat” at Lauds. The Monastic Breviary has also three Nocturns on Easter Day. Besides the hymns the chapter is omitted and the Little Hours have no antiphons; the place of the hymns, chapters, and little responses is taken by the jubilus, „Haec Dies quam fecit Dominus, exultemus et laetemur in ea”. The Masses of Easter Week have a sequence of dramatic character, „Victimae paschali”, which was composed by Wipo, a Burgundian priest at the courts of Conrad II and Henry III. The present Preface is abridged from the longer Preface of the Gregorian Sacramentary. The „Communicantes” and „Hanc igitur” contain references to the solemn baptism of Easter eve. To the „Benedicamus Domino” of Lauds and Vespers and to the „Ite Missa est” of the Mass two alleluias are added during the entire octave. Every day of the octave has a special Mass; an old MS. Spanish missal of 855 contains three Masses for Easter Sunday; the Gallican missals have two Masses for every day of the week, one of which was celebrated at four in the morning, preceded by a procession (Migne, La Liturgie Catholique, Paris, 1863, p. 952). In the Gelasian Sacramentary every day of Easter Week has its own Preface (Probst, Sacramentarien, p. 226).
To have a correct idea of the Easter celebration and its Masses, we must remember that it was intimately connected with the solemn rite of baptism. The preparatory liturgical acts commenced on the eve and were continued during the night. When the number of persons to be baptized was great, the sacramental ceremonies and the Easter celebration were united. This connection was severed at a time when, the discipline having changed, even the recollection of the old traditions was lost. The greater part of the ceremonies was transferred to the morning hours of Holy Saturday. This change, however, did not produce a new liturgical creation adapted to the new order of things. The old baptismal ceremonies were left untouched and have now, apparently, no other reason for preservation than their antiquity. The gap left in the liturgical services after the solemnities of the night had been transferred to the morning of Holy Saturday was filled in France, Germany, and in some other countries by a twofold new ceremony, which, however, was never adopted in Rome.
First, there was the commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ. At midnight, before Matins, the clergy in silence entered the dark church and removed the cross from the sepulchre to the high altar. Then the candles were lit, the doors opened, and a solemn procession was held with the cross through the church, the cloister, or cemetery. Whilst the procession moved from the altar to the door, the beautiful old antiphon, „Cum Rex gloriae”, was sung, the first part softly (humili ac depressâ voce), to symbolize the sadness of the souls in limbo; from Advenisti desiderabilis the singers raised their voices in jubilation whilst the acolytes rang small bells which they carried. The full text of this antiphon, which has disappeared from the liturgy, follows:
Cum rex gloriae Christus infernum debellaturus intraret, et chorus angelicus ante faciem ejus protas principum tolli praeciperet, sanctorum populus, qui tenebatur in morte captivus, voce lacrimabili clamabat dicens: Advenisti desiderabilis, quem expectabamus in tenebris, ut educered hac nocte vinculatos de claustris. Te nostra vocabant suspiria, te large requirebant lamenta, tu factus est spes desperatis, magna consolatio in tormentis. Alleluja.
When the procession returned, in many churches the „Attollite portas” (Ps. xxiii) was sung at the door, in order to symbolize the victorious entry of Christ into limbo and hell. After the procession Matins were sung. In later centuries the Blessed Sacrament took the place of the cross in the procession. This ceremony is, with the approval of the Holy See, still held in Germany on the eve of Easter with simpler ceremonies, in the form of a popular devotion.
Second, the visitation of the Sepulchre. After the third lesson of the Nocturn two clerics, representing the holy women, went to the empty sepulchre where another cleric (angel) announced to them that the Saviour was risen. The two then brought the message to the choir, whereupon two priests, impersonating Peter and John, ran to the tomb and, finding it empty, shoed to the people the linen in which the body had been wrapped. Then the choir sang the „Te Deum” and the „Victimae paschali”. In some churches, e.g. at Rouen, the apparition of Christ to Mary Magdalen was also represented. Out of this solemn ceremony, which dates back to the tenth century, grew the numerous Easter plays. (Nord-Amerikanisches Pastoralblatt, Oct., 1907, p. 149, has a long article on these two ceremonies.) The Easter plays in the beginning used only the words of the Gospels and the „Victimae paschali”; in the course of development they became regular dramas, in Latin or vernacular verses, which contained the negotiation between the vender of unguents and the three women, the dialogue between Pilate and the Jews asking for soldiers to guard the Sepulchre, the contest of Peter and John running to the tomb, the risen Saviour appearing to Magdalen, and the descent of Christ into hell. Towards the end of the Middle Ages the tone of these plays became worldly, and they were filled with long burlesque speeches of salve-dealers, Jews, soldiers, and demons (Creizenach, Gesch, des neuen Dramas, Halle, 1893).
The procession combined with the solemn Second Vespers of Easter Sunday is very old. There was great variety in the manner of solemnizing these Vespers. The service commenced with the nine Kyrie Eleisons, sung as in the Easter Mass, even sometimes with the corresponding trope lux et origo boni. After the third psalm the whole choir went in procession to the baptismal chapel, where the fourth psalm, the „Victimae paschali”, and the Magnificat were sung: thence the procession moved to the great cross at the entrance to the sanctuary (choir), and from there, after the fifth psalm and the Magnificat were sung, to the empty sepulchre, where the services were concluded. The Carmelites and a number of French dioceses, e.g. Paris, Lyons, Besancon, Chartres, Laval, have, with the permission of the Holy See, retained these solemn Easter Vespers since the re-introduction of the Roman Breviary. But they are celebrated differently in every diocese, very much modernized in some churches. At Lyons the Magnificat is sung three times. In Cologne and Trier the solemn Vespers of Easter were abolished in the nineteenth century (Nord-Amerikanisches Pastoralblatt, April, 1908, p. 50). Whilst the Latin Rite admits only commemorations in Lauds, Mass, and Vespers from Wednesday in Easter Week and excludes any commemoration on the first three days of the week, the Greek and Russian Churches transfer the occurring Offices (canons) of the saints from Matins to Complin during the entire octave, even on Easter Sunday. After the Anti-pascha (Low Sunday), the canons and other canticles of Easter are continued in the entire Office up to Ascension Day, and the canons of the saints take only the second place in Matins. Also the Greeks and Russians have a solemn procession at midnight, before Matins, during which they sing at the door of the church Ps. lxvii, repeating after each verse the Easter antiphon. When the procession leaves, the church is dark; when it returns, hundreds of candles and coloured lamps are lit to represent the splendour of Christ’s Resurrection. After Lauds all those who are present give each other the Easter kiss, not excluding even the beggar. One says: „Christ is risen”; the other answers: „He is truly risen”; and these words are the Russians’ greeting during Easter time. A similar custom had, through the influence of the Byzantine court, been adopted at Rome for a time. The greeting was: Surrexit Dominus vere; R. Et apparuit Simoni. (Maximilianus, Princ. Sax., Praelect. de liturg. Orient., I, 114; Martene, De antiq. Eccl. rit., c. xxv, 5.) The Armenian Church during the entire time from Easter to Pentecost celebrates the Resurrection alone to the exclusion of all feasts of the saints. On Easter Monday they keep All Souls’ Day, the Saturday of the same week the Decollation of St. John, the third Sunday after Easter the founding of the first Christian Church on Sion and of the Church in general, the fifth Sunday the Apparition of the Holy Cross at Jerusalem, then on Thursday the Ascension of Christ, and the Sunday after the feast of the great Vision of St. Gregory. From Easter to Ascension the Armenians never fast or do they abstain from meat (C. Tondini de Quaranghi, Calendrier de la Nation Arménienne). In the Mozarabic Rite of Spain, after the Pater Noster on Easter Day and during the week the priest intones the particula „Regnum” and sings „Vicit Leo de Tribu Juda radix David Alleluja”. The people answer: „Qui sedes super Cherubim radix David. Alleluja”. This is sung three times (Missale Mozarab.). In some cities of Spain before sunrise two processions leave the principal church; one with the image of Mary covered by a black veil; another with the Blessed Sacrament. The processions move on in silence until they meet at a predetermined place; then the veil is removed from the image of Mary and the clergy with the people sing the „regina Coeli” (Guéranger, Kirchenjarh, VII, 166). For the sanctuary at Emmaus in the Holy Land the Holy See has approved a special feast on Easter Monday, „Solemnitas manifestationis D.N.I. Chr. Resurg., Titul. Eccles. dupl. I Cl.”, with proper Mass and Office (Cal. Rom. Seraph. in Terrae S. Custodia, 1907).
PECULIAR CUSTOMS OF EASTER TIME
1. Risus Paschalis
This strange custom originated in Bavaria in the fifteenth century. The priest inserted in his sermon funny stories which would cause his hearers to laugh (Ostermärlein), e.g. a description of how the devil tries to keep the doors of hell locked against the descending Christ. Then the speaker would draw the moral from the story. This Easter laughter, giving rise to grave abuses of the word of God, was prohibited by Clement X (1670-1676) and in the eighteenth century by Maximilian III and the bishops of Bavaria (Wagner, De Risu Paschali, Königsberg, 1705; Linsemeier, Predigt in Deutschland, Munich, 1886).
2. Easter Eggs
Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table on Easter Day, coloured red to symbolize the Easter joy. This custom is found not only in the Latin but also in the Oriental Churches. The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring. Easter eggs, the children are told, come from Rome with the bells which on Thursday go to Rome and return Saturday morning. The sponsors in some countries give Easter eggs to their god-children. Coloured eggs are used by children at Easter in a sort of game which consists in testing the strength of the shells (Kraus, Real-Encyklop die, s. v. Ei). Both coloured and uncoloured eggs are used in some parts of the United States for this game, known as „egg-picking”. Another practice is the „egg-rolling” by children on Easter Monday on the lawn of the White House in Washington.
3. The Easter Rabbit
The Easter Rabbit lays the eggs, for which reason they are hidden in a nest or in the garden. The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility (Simrock, Mythologie, 551).
4. Handball
In France handball playing was one of the Easter amusements, found also in Germany (Simrock, op. cit., 575). The ball may represent the sun, which is believed to take three leaps in rising on Easter morning. Bishops, priests, and monks, after the strict discipline of Lent, used to play ball during Easter week (Beleth, Expl. Div. off., 120). This was called libertas Decembrica, because formerly in December, the masters used to play ball with their servants, maids, and shepherds. The ball game was connected with a dance, in which even bishops and abbots took part. At Auxerre, Besancon, etc. the dance was performed in church to the strains of the „Victimae paschali”. In England, also, the game of ball was a favourite Easter sport in which the municipal corporation engaged with due parade and dignity. And at Bury St. Edmunds, within recent years, the game was kept up with great spirit by twelve old women. After the game and the dance a banquet was given, during which a homily on the feast was read. All these customs disappeared for obvious reasons (Kirchenlex., IV, 1414).
5. Men and women
On Easter Monday the women had a right to strike their husbands, on Tuesday the men struck their wives, as in December the servants scolded their masters. Husbands and wives did this „ut ostendant sese mutuo debere corrigere, ne illo tempore alter ab altero thori debitum exigat” (Beleth, I, c. cxx; Durandus, I, c. vi, 86). In the northern parts of England the men parade the streets on Easter Sunday and claim the privilege of lifting every woman three times from the ground, receiving in payment a kiss or a silver sixpence. The same is done by the women to the men on the next day. In the Neumark (Germany) on Easter Day the men servants whip the maid servants with switches; on Monday the maids whip the men. They secure their release with Easter eggs. These customs are probably of pre-Christian origin (Reinsberg-Düringsfeld, Das festliche Jahr, 118).
6. The Easter Fire
The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains (Easter mountain, Osterberg) and must be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction (nodfyr); this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter. The bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires (Conc. Germanicum, a. 742, c.v.; Council of Lestines, a. 743, n. 15), but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere. The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring it to the fiery column in the desert and to the Resurrection of Christ; the new fire on Holy Saturday is drawn from flint, symbolizing the Resurrection of the Light of the World from the tomb closed by a stone (Missale Rom.). In some places a figure was thrown into the Easter fire, symbolizing winter, but to the Christians on the Rhine, in Tyrol and Bohemia, Judas the traitor (Reinsberg-Düringfeld, Das festliche Jahr, 112 sq.).
7. Processions and awakenings
At Puy in France, from time immemorial to the tenth century, it was customary, when at the first psalm of Matins a canon was absent from the choir, for some of the canons and vicars, taking with them the processional cross and the holy water, to go to the house of the absentee, sing the „Haec Dies”, sprinkle him with water, if he was still in bed, and lead him to the church. In punishment he had to give a breakfast to his conductors. A similar custom is found in the fifteenth century at Nantes and Angers, where it was prohibited by the diocesan synods in 1431 and 1448. In some parts of Germany parents and children try to surprise each other in bed on Easter morning to apply the health-giving switches (Freyde, Ostern in deutscher Sage, Sitte und Dichtung, 1893).
8. Blessing of food
In both the Oriental and Latin Churches, it is customary to have those victuals which were prohibited during Lent blessed by the priests before eating them on Easter Day, especially meat, eggs, butter, and cheese (Ritualbucher, Paderborn, 1904; Maximilianus, Liturg. or., 117). Those who ate before the food was blessed, according to popular belief, were punished by God, sometimes instantaneously (Migne, Liturgie, s.v. P&aicrc;ques).
9. House blessings
On the eve of Easter the homes are blessed (Rit. Rom., tit. 8, c. iv) in memory of the passing of the angel in Egypt and the signing of the door-posts with the blood of the paschal lamb. The parish priest visits the houses of his parish; the papal apartments are also blessed on this day. The room, however, in which the pope is found by the visiting cardinal is blessed by the pontiff himself (Moroni, Dizionariq, s.v. Pasqua).
10. Sports and celebrations
The Greeks and Russians after their long, severe Lent make Easter a day of popular sports. At Constantinople the cemetery of Pera is the noisy rendezvous of the Greeks; there are music, dances, and all the pleasures of an Oriental popular resort; the same custom prevails in the cities of Russia. In Russia anyone can enter the belfries on Easter and ring the bells, a privilege of which many persons avail themselves.
DUCHESNE, Orig. du Culte Chret. (Paris, 1889); KELLNER, Heortologie (Freiburg im Br., 1906); PROBST, Die altesten romischen Sacramentarien und Ordines (Munster, 1892); GUERANGER, Das Kirchenjahr, Ger. tr. (Mainz, 1878), V, 7; KRAUS, Real-Encyk.; BERNARD, Cours de Liturgie Romaine; HAMPSON, Calendarium Medii AEvi (London, 1857); Kirchenlex., IX, cols. 1121-41; NILLES, Calendarium utriusque Ecclesiae (Innsbruck, 1897); MIGNE, La Liturgie Catholique (Paris, 1863); BINTERIM, Denkwurdigkeiten (Mainz, 1837); GROTEFEND, Zeitrechnung (Hanover, 1891-1898); LERSCH, Einleitung in die Chronologie (Freiburg, 1899); BACH, Die Osterberechnung (Freiburg, 1907); SCHWARTZ, Christliche und judische Ostertafeln (Berlin, 1905); Suntne Latini Quartodecimani? (Prague, 1906); DUCHESNE, La question de la Paque du Concile de Nicee in Revue des quest. histor. (1880), 5 sq.; KRUSCH, Studien zur christlish- mittelalterlichen Chronologie (Leipzig, 1880); ROCK, The Church of Our Fathers (London, 1905), IV; ALBERS, Festtage des Herrn und seiner Heiligen (Paderborn, 1890).
FREDERICK G. HOLWECK
Transcribed by John Wagner and Michael T. Barrett