What Is the Paschal Mystery?

The Paschal Mystery is the process of dying and rising, which has eternal implications for those who believe in Jesus' life, death and resurrection. The Hebrew verb "pasach" alludes to the Lord's Passover, when the Hebrews in Egypt were commanded to smear blood from a lamb over their door frames.

The Paschal Mystery derives from a historical event recounted in Exodus, when the Lord passed over the homes of those who had obeyed God's command. At midnight, every first-born male in each Egyptian household died as a result of Pharaoh's refusal to obey the Lord's command to allow the Israelite slaves to leave Egypt.

For Christians, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of prophesy. The Paschal Mystery forms the undercurrent of everyday life for followers of Christ who observe and comprehend symbolism in the rise and fall of seasons, the birth and inevitable death of all living things and the promise of hope for salvation after death. Park rangers implementing a controlled burn provide one example of the Paschal Mystery in modern times. As a result of certain forest areas being deliberately set on fire, habitats are improved for wildlife and healthy ecosystems emerge from the charred trees, brush and native plants.