Father Manno is one of my favorite people in our neighborhood of the West Branch Valley. When we get together, we can talk all day, about everything from the Catholic Church to Ebbets Field and when his dad played for the Boston Braves. Before I get to our discussion about Lent and Easter, just let me tell you Father is doing well, he’s had a little trouble getting around due to a foot problem. He loves to hear from you, so reach out to him when convenient.
As I’m already doing, it’s hard for Father and me to stay on track when we get together. Just thought I’d let you know we also enjoyed a lunch at Rivals and a drive around the greater Williamsport area.
Father Manno and I both agreed Williamsport has never looked so good. We were both amazed by the Penn College campus and how much is going on there. He was very impressed with all the work being done at the Lycoming County Veteran’s Memorial Park. One of our favorite stops was Bowman Field. I really think if he were able, he would have hit me some fly balls to shag on this beautiful sunny afternoon.
Father Manno is proud and passionate about the area he calls home. He and I share the same love for our community. He was quick to point out it’s the great people of the Williamsport area that make this such a special place to live and raise a family. “We are all so blessed to live where love, friendship, and community still matter so very much in today’s world.”
That word love dominated our conversation about the Lenten season and Easter. Father made it clear that “God’s infinite love for each of us was shown by the sending of his only Son to walk amongst us. To suffer, die and be buried; only to rise again to show everlasting life is possible for all.”
I have always appreciated how Father John can break things down, and make them easy to understand. So here are some of his thoughts on topics related to the season of reconciliation and Easter. First up, the question I’ve heard asked so often this year, “Why does Easter fall so late this spring?” “Easter has ancient roots; we always celebrate Christ’s Resurrection on the Sunday after the full moon, which occurs after the vernal spring equinox. This year what is referred to as the Paschal full moon occurs on April 19th, which makes Easter Sunday, April 21st.” Father also shared with me that the earliest Easter can fall is March 22nd, and the latest it can fall is April 25th.
What did Father Manno give up for Lent? “Same thing I do most years, eating between meals.” We both laughed at this because our Italian heritage makes it very difficult to only eat at those three times a day.
Father wanted me to stress that Lenten sacrifice is about selflessness. It is intended to show a person’s love for Jesus and his fellow man. “It doesn’t have to be done by giving something up, like candy. It can also be shown through charity, such as volunteering time each week or doing something above what is normal. The key is to show love each week during Lent, and a commitment to whatever you choose. Be selfless.”
One of Father’s favorite times of Holy Week is Holy Thursday. “The Last Supper was a beautiful event. It was all about love and friendship. Jesus was bringing together the Apostles for a celebration prior to what he knew would be a very tough Friday, ending with the crucifixion.”
Father Manno was especially touched by Jesus kneeling and washing the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper. This was a sign of love and that we are all one and the same. “A beautiful gesture of friendship. On this special day.”
Other things that Father shared about Easter, which is the most important day on the Christian calendar, although Christmas gets a lot more hype, was the love and tragedy of Good Friday. How the crowd turning on Jesus and the brutal events of the day were necessary to spill the blood of Jesus Christ for the love and forgiveness of mankind. A truly selfless act by our Lord and Savior.
After Jesus’ Resurrection from the tomb, he was met by Mary Magdalene who wanted to embrace him. Jesus did not want this. He wanted her to embrace him spiritually and wanted her to stop holding on to his mortal being. Father Manno shared with me the importance of this was to make “Easter touchable.” To understand that it is a matter of love and faith that makes it so, not a physical embrace. “We need to believe in our Lord and Savior, unconditionally and make Easter a part of every day.”
“Easter is truly a story of love and good winning out over evil. That by accepting Jesus Christ into your life you are forgiven and Everlasting life is possible,” Father shared.
Some other thoughts from Father Manno — a palm signifies both life and death. A lily looks like a megaphone to proclaim, “the greatest news the world will ever know. Christ has risen.” Father Manno’s favorite Easter candy is the peanut butter egg, although he also loves jellybeans. Father believes that his grandmother, who was Pennsylvania Dutch, summed up Hope Springs Eternal no matter when Easter falls on the calendar, as she would often say to him, “Even in February, things are stirring beneath the Earth, we might not see them, but we know they’re there.”
Father Manno’s message to everyone is to, “love each other and share the spirit of Jesus Christ.” Father Manno and I wish you a very Happy Easter.
God Bless America.