Saturday, April 16, 2011


Looking up from the rectory patio as I prayed the Rosary, I saw the glorious sight of the planet Saturn just to the left of the almost full moon (you would notice, if you looked, that the moon’s lower left-hand area—“7:00”—is not quite complete).  Such a pity:  it’s almost Sunday.  Why does this matter?  Lacking only a few hours of being full, tonight might have been the Easter Vigil…

The calculations are complex, but the basic principle is that Easter falls on the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the spring equinox.  Tonight (Saturday, April 16) is almost it.  But since it isn’t, Easter this year will be next Sunday, virtually its latest possible date.

Christians knew from the beginning that the timing of Passover was a part of the dating for Easter since the Gospels all agree that the Crucifixion took place around that time.  Soon it became a major controversy:  should Easter be dated solely on the basis of 14 Nisan, the Jewish date of Passover?  Or should it always be on a Sunday (the Lord’s Day), since Christ rose on the 1st day of the week?  The former group came to be known as “Quartodecimans,” from the Latin word for “14.”  But they did not prevail. 

Just as a side note, if you were ever wondering why Eastern Orthodox Easter differs from Western Latin (= us) Easter (which this year it does not)—it’s because we measure the full moon from different spots on the globe, and so what becomes a full moon in one place is not necessarily full yet in the other.  Amazing, isn’t it?

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful science lesson created by an ever observant mortal...

    Thank you for uncluttering your mind and sharing such

    moments in nature.