Mormons and Easter

Over at Catholic Answers Forum, a year old thread entitled “LDS do celebrate Easter” was resurrected (pun intended).  A Latter-day Saint poster gave a link to this Youtube video, and said that he and LDS church love Easter.  Subsequently, a Catholic poster asked about the practice of not having Sacrament Meeting (the LDS Sunday worship service) on Easter Sunday if General Conference is on the same weekend.  General Conference is a two day conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, where various LDS church authorities give sermons on various Gospel principles, together with music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and other LDS church choirs.  Mormons also sustain their leaders at General Conference, and new authorities are presented here as well (and old ones are released from their callings).

Another poster answered in the affirmative, that if General Conference is the same weekend as Easter, Sunday church services are canceled, and that we would see in a year if that is true.  He then resurrected the thread yesterday, and confirmed the previous statement.  Two other posters then commented that, although there are a number of other reasons to not consider the LDS church Christian, the “fact that they apparently have not celebrated Easter since the time of the founding of their sect certainly raises the question (that they are not Christian).”  Another poster claimed “Easter is the single, greatest celebration within Christianity. If Christ was not resurrected then our faith is in vain. The fact that the celebration of Easter could be preempted by any other event is very telling.”
In Catholicism (as well as Orthodoxy and various Protestant churches), there is of course always an Easter Sunday Mass.  Churches are typically decorated with beautiful flowers, and the Mass is typically very well attended (perhaps because of the Christmas/Easter-only church attenders).  One of the differences between Catholicism and Mormonism is that Catholicism holds to a liturgical calendar, while Mormonism really does not.  Mormons most certainly celebrate the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ, however they do not necessarily have Sacrament Meeting on December 25th or Easter Sunday (both according to the Western calendar).

What I find fascinating about the comments by the Catholic posters on the Catholic Answers Forum thread is that they think that because there isn’t a specific Easter service this year because of General Conference, the Christianity of Mormonism is called into even more question.  If one does not have church on Easter, does that mean that they are not celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  For that matter, is the Resurrection only to be celebrated on one day of the year?  The posters on the thread in question would be hard pressed to show that Mormons do not believe in and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is through these historic events that Latter-day Saints hope to be saved.  Celebrating the life of Jesus Christ should not be limited to certain days of the year, and I am sure that Catholics would agree.  The problem comes when someone makes the illogical statement that because Sunday services are canceled on Easter Sunday because of General Conference (which may very well have Resurrection-themed sermons and music), Mormons do not revere the Resurrection this year.  If some Catholics believe that the Resurrection is only celebrated once a year, then that brings up another issue.  There is certainly nothing wrong with having Easter Mass, having one special day to celebrate the Resurrection, followed by the days through Ascension and Pentecost.  However, we do need to remember that we should be continuously celebrating Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, and that it is only through these events that our sacraments and ordinances (whether Catholic or Mormon) have any purpose and validity (within that faith).

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4 comments

  1. I think the confusion comes from the Catholic focus on ceremony and ritual, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. When LDSs think of the resurrection, they don’t automatically think of a specific service or related prayer, it’s just a fact of life and a matter of testimony. Every aspect of LDS testimony doesn’t necessarily coincide with some type of celebration or festival (can you imagine if they did? What would “I love my friends and family” week be like?), and there really isn’t a reason for it to be. To believe in the resurrection we have to have a month long ordeal? Do we really have to observe traditions whose origins we don’t understand in order to claim Christian-hood? It makes more sense to me to just study the gospel and carry on with your life rather than engage in a lot of fuss and hoopla.

  2. See, I said fuss and hoopla, and it came out derogatory but it wasn’t meant that way. I just meant it in a straight-laced, puritan, traditional American no nonsense work ethic way.

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