Another Easter has come and gone. For Christians, this is an especially important holiday. It is the culmination of all of the teachings of the Christian churches. As a Roman Catholic and as a Boy Scout leader, Easter has significance that many may not know or understand. You may think, what has Boy Scouts got to do with Easter? That is actually the simplest question to answer. Boy Scout troops are under an obligation to assist and participate in sponsoring organization activities. If a troop is sponsored by a VFW , they are expected to assist in the placement of flags on the graves of veterans on Memorial day, Flag day, and Veteran’s day and participate in activities for the various services’ birthdays / anniversaries, Armed Forces Day and Patriot day. The troop which I serve is sponsored by the School attached to my church, a Roman Catholic Church. We support the church carnival, fall clean up, spring spruce up, decorating for holidays and supporting the Easter service.

What is involved in the Easter service at our church is slightly more difficult to explain. In the Catholic Church, any items bless for the use in any or our rites must be disposed of properly. Liquids such as holy water should not be put down the drain to be mixed with common waste, instead it should be spread in a garden or poured on a plant. The Catholic Church as many rites, and many items used to perform those rites. Some of these items are as common as prayer slips (little slips of paper people write names on for private prays) or more specialized like the chrism (anointing oil) which is used for Baptism, anointing of the sick and other activities.

On the Easter Vigil (Saturday night before Easter from sun down to midnight in some parishes), the items that can be burned are consumed in what is called a new fire. This is a fire build not by using a flame from the existing flame (a candle that is kept continuously burning from Easter to the following Easter Vigil, but made from a new fire. The Boy Scout troop at our church is responsible for building that fire and keeping vigil until the Priest burns the left over oil (it is olive oil, so you can’t really keep it more that a year even if it is blessed), the cotton balls used to anoint, the prayer slip and anything else he has to burn.

This fire is quite dramatic. The boys have a good fire going before the Priest arrives, then he throws oil on it! From that fire, a new Easter Candle is lit, an incense coal is started and the parishioners head into the church for three hours of readings, prayer and song. The boys stand by the fire until it has burned down, quench the flames with water and gather the ashes to spread in the forest behind the church on Monday night.

Not all churches have this participation service, but all Catholic Churches dispose of certain items in the flames. Our church does not have a permanent fire pit, the boys construct one in the hours that lead up to the ceremony, and tear it down when they are done. When they leave, there is no evidence a fire was ever there. For the engineers and boy scouts in our audience, this fire pit is built in the following way: 4×4 piece of plywood laid on the ground, 16 paver ties on top of the plywood, 120 paver stones in a stacked circle about 3 feet high, 3-5 gallon buckets of sand poured in as a base. The sand and ashes are gathered in 5-5 gallon bucket which are filled with water as well to make sure the fire is completely out, and we wait until Monday to spread them in the forest for additional safety.

Easter is really one of the nicer holidays. Sure there is a lot of hype, and other holidays are nice too. I am partial to Easter because it marks the true beginning of spring. I hope that all of you had a good Easter, and for those who are not Christians, I hope that you are having a great spring.