Blessed Karl and Easter 2018

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By Suzanne Pearson, League Delegate

Easter Sunday comes early this year, on the first day of April. On this greatest of all feasts, the high point of the Church's liturgical year, we “rejoice with exceedingly great joy” as we relive once again the discovery of Christ's empty tomb. On this day Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, having conquered sin and death by enduring death Himself, rose triumphantly from the tomb to new life.

This year, the feast of Easter coincides with an anniversary precious to those who love Blessed Karl. Exiled from his beloved homeland and robbed of all his possessions, Emperor and King Karl imitated His Lord and Savior by forgiving all his enemies and offering his life as a sacrifice for the salvation of his people. He died in abject poverty, but acclaimed by thousands as a saint, on April 1, 1922.

So often this holy anniversary falls during Lent, especially Passiontide. Lent has thus become a powerful time to meditate on Blessed Karl's own passion in light of the Passion of Christ, for instance by offering the Stations of the Cross in his honor. The fact that April 1st so often occurs during Holy Week or Easter week, when no other feasts can be celebrated, led the Church to assign to Emperor Karl the feast day of October 21 (his wedding day) instead of the day of his death, which is the usual practice. However, devotees of Blessed Karl continue to remember and honor him on April 1st, when his virtues shone so brilliantly.

Last year the days of Lent fell exactly as they had during Blessed Karl's last months, when the Saturday on which he died was the day before Passion Sunday. This year, the days of Lent fall exactly as they did in 1923, the year after his death.

This Easter, 2018, besides being the 96th anniversary of Blessed Karl's “heavenly birthday” (as the traditional missal would describe it), will also be the 95th anniversary of another significant event concerning Blessed Karl. On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1923, exactly one year after his death, Wilhelm Miklas, who had served in the imperial government and later became President of Austria, “Took up a pen” (as he later recounted), and wrote to Cardinal Piffl, Archbishop of Vienna, petitioning him to initiate the process toward beatification of Emperor Karl. The Cardinal did, and in 1925, he appointed the Emperor Karl League of Prayer as promoter of the cause, tasked with gathering testimony and evidence of virtues and miracles.

As we celebrate the Lord's Resurrection this Easter Sunday, while the “Alleluias” of the morning Mass still resound in our ears, perhaps we will break a long, Lenten fast by enjoying some delicious, sweet treat. Perhaps we could light a little candle on that cake in honor of Blessed Karl, whose 96th heavenly birthday is also this Easter Sunday. 

Karl Austria