It was Easter Sunday evening and Father Desjardins was having dinner with Ede and her grandmother. They had attended Mass in the morning and had invited him to have lunch with them but he had already accepted another family’s invitation so they invited him to have dinner instead which he readily accepted.
It gave Ede time to go home and plan a menu. At six, she got busy preparing the dinner and at promptly at seven-thirty, he showed up. While he and her grandmother sat around the table, she carried out the dishes and laid them on the table.
“May I help you?” he asked.
She smiled and shook her head. “Thanks, Father but I can manage. Besides, you are our guest.”
When everything was finally on the table, she sat down and he said Grace. Dinner consisted of Roasted Leg of Lamb with Beets, Carrots, and Sweet Onions over rice with a shredded Kale and a crunchy cabbage salad. “This is delicious,” Father Desjardins remarked.
“Ede is an excellent cook,” her grandmother said proudly. “She has been cooking since she was ten. She will make some lucky man a good wife one day.”
Ede felt embarrassed when her grandmother mentioned her getting married one day but she didn’t say anything. She stole a glance at Father Desjardins but he had his head down.
They talked about the Easter service which had a huge turnout as usual. “I really enjoyed your sermon this morning,” Mrs. Amadou, Ede’s grandmother said to him.
He smiled. “Thank you. I spent hours preparing it.” Ede and he exchanged smiles. She remembered that that it was one of the reasons he had to cut short their conversation when they saw each other on Good Friday.
“I got emotional when you spoke about the verse, ‘But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.’ You said that Peter must have been in a terrible state because he had denied his Lord and the words of the angel must have meant so much to him. Those words showed the loving, caring and good character of our Lord and Savior.”
“Yes. Peter honestly believed that he wouldn’t desert nor deny Jesus but Jesus knew that he would and that was why He warned him before it happened. And even as He knew that Peter would deny Him, He knew that He would charge him to feed His flock which we read about in the last chapter of the Gospel of John. Peter denied the Lord three times and three times, He restored Peter in the presence of the other disciples. Remember Peter declared that while the others might forsake Jesus, he wouldn’t, implying that his devotion to Him was stronger than the others’. This is why Jesus asked him if he, Peter, loved Him more than they did. When Jesus asked him if he loved Him the third time, he was grieved. He realized, though, what Jesus was doing. He had denied Him three times so He was being asked if he loved Him three times.”
“It’s a beautiful story of restoration,” Mrs. Amadou agreed.
“And I liked how Jesus revealed to Peter the type death he would experience,” Ede said. “It showed that not only did Peter feed the flock as he was commissioned but he gave his life for the Lord whom he had once denied.”
“Yes, he did. He took up his cross and followed Him to the very end. This is something we all have to do. Profess our love and fidelity to our Lord and not deny Him.”
They talked at length about the sermon and the service overall and then after dessert which was West African lime cake, Ede cleared the table while Mrs. Amadou and Father Desjardins went into the living-room to drink rooibos herbal tea. When Ede joined them, her grandmother encouraged her to take Father Desjardins into the garden for some fresh air. “It’s a lovely night,” she said. “Too lovely to be cooped up inside here.”
Father Desjardins rose to his feet, smiling. “I must say that you have a lovely garden, Mrs. Amadou.”
She smiled. “Thank you, Father. A very nice young man comes weekly to maintain it because it has lots of plants.”
“Thank you for inviting me for dinner, Mrs. Amadou,” he said. “It was very kind of you.”
“We were delighted to have you join us for our Easter dinner. I hope we can persuade you to join us for dinner again.”
“I would like that very much.”
He excused himself and followed Ede into the garden. Mrs. Amadou was right. It was a lovely evening. A cool breeze was blowing, rustling the leaves of the trees and he could hear the crickets chirping. Ede sat down on the bench but he remained standing.
“Father Desjardins, why do we call it Easter?” Ede asked.
“No one really knows but some historians suggest that it came from the phrase hebdomada alba which is Latin for “white week,” used to describe the white garments new Christians wore when they were baptized during Holy Week. In Old German, the word became esostarum and, eventually, Easter. Bede, a seventh-century Anglo-Saxon historian who wrote that that the word Easter comes from the goddess Eostre, an ancient goddess of fertility and the goddess of the dawn who originated in Scandinavia. Over time, early Christians started referring to the Feast of the Resurrection by the name of the month in which it was celebrated—Eosturmonath which we know as April. Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny are also considered ancient symbols of fertility and are tied to the worship of Eostre.”
“Here, the Easter Bunny and hunting for Easter eggs aren’t a part of our Easter celebrations. To me those are distractions to draw the attention away from the real meaning of Easter which are the death and the resurrection of Jesus.”
“As a child growing up in Laval, Quebec, my family I didn’t attend Easter egg hunts on Holy Saturday because my parents were against it. And they don’t permit it at the parish here. They did buy chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies for my brothers and me. We were glad to finally enjoy ourselves with the advent of Easter after abstaining during Lent.”
“Do you still have chocolate eggs and bunnies for Easter?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Easter have become very commercialized in so many countries, particularly in the Catholic ones.”
“I’m afraid you’re right. Anyway, it’s important that no matter how we choose to celebrate Easter that it doesn’t change its true meaning for any of us.”
“Yes, Father. Easter is all about Jesus.”
“Yes, just like Christmas is all about Him.”
“Have you been back to Laval since you left?”
“Yes, I have. I returned for my eldest brother’s wedding.”
“Did you officiate?”
“No. The priest who Christened us officiated.”
“Do you miss Laval?”
“Yes, I do. I spent very happy times there. I miss the puffed pastries and bric-a-brac and fizzy treats and powdered elephant ears.”
Ede’s eyebrows rose. “Powdered elephant ears?” she exclaimed.
He chuckled. “Elephant ears are crispy circles of fried dough, also know as fry bread, coated with cinnamon and sugar. My mother used to bake them for Easter Sunday.”
“I should google the recipe.”
“You’re an excellent cook, Ede.”
“Thank you, Father.”
“One day you’ll be some lucky man’s wife.”
She stared at him. He wasn’t smiling any more. His expression was guarded. “Father…”
“I’d better be going now,” he said. “It’s getting late. Thank you again for dinner. Goodnight, Ede.”
She rose to her feet wondering why he was leaving so suddenly. It wasn’t that late. It was nine thirty. She wanted to persuade him to stay longer but thought better of it. Bitterly disappointed, she bade him, “Goodnight, Father.” And watched him walk away.
Source: Marge Fenelon; Southern Living; Taste of Home; US Catholic; Bible Gateway; Quotatis; East Africa Travel Trips; Blue Letter Bible; Catholically Year; Scripture Catholic; Hello Monaco; The Gunny Sack