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How can we celebrate more fully the season of Easter?

April 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Easter, Fr. Bartunek

Dear Father John, The wonderful season of Easter is upon us. Lent has been a great time to prepare for the victory of the cross over death. Thank-you Jesus Christ, Holy Redeemer. What are appropriate things we can do to celebrate Easter, especially for the entire season?  

I love this question! Ever since I was ordained, I have been struck every year by the decrease in daily Mass attendance as soon as Lent ends. I am not trying to say that everyone is obliged to go to Mass on a daily basis (though it’s certainly not a bad idea, if you can work it out), but I often wonder if the benefits of our Lenten spiritual disciplines are sometimes eviscerated by our Easter laxity. Lent, after all, is only six weeks long, while the liturgical season of Easter lasts for eight weeks. What would happen if we lived the Easter season with as much fervor as we live Lent? Your question gives us a chance to reflect on this.

The Color of Easter

Every liturgical season has its color – both physically (violet for Lent, white for Easter, for example, as shown in the sacred vestments used for Mass), but also spiritually. Trying to echo in our own spiritual lives the color of the seasons is a wise practice. For the saints, it happens almost without thinking – they are simply in tune with the spiritual rhythms of the Church. For the rest of us, a concerted effort can help.

The color of Easter is joy, the joy of the definitive victory. Christ has taken all sin and evil into his own soul, in a sense, and done away with it. God’s mercy has shown itself infinitely stronger than the devil’s poison. This is the message so beautifully expressed in the Easter Sequence, sung before the Gospel is read for the Mass of Our Lord’s Resurrection.

What can we do to color our spiritual lives with Easter joy during this liturgical season? I will offer three suggestions, but I also invite our readers to share their own personal and family traditions, and any experiences that have helped them make this season fruitful for growing in holiness.

Liturgical Connection

First, stay connected to the liturgy. The readings for daily Mass during Easter take us on an exciting journey through the Last Supper discourse and through the amazing and frightening experience of the early Church. We should spend time reading commentaries about these biblical passages, meditating on them, and allowing God to speak to our hearts through them. The main message of the liturgical readings throughout Easter is that Christ is still among us, even after his Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension, and he is among us precisely through his Church. I always find it deeply encouraging to read a book or two about the history of the Church, or about the life of a saint, during Easter. It reminds me that my own Christian journey is a part of a much bigger story, and that I am not alone in my defeats and victories.

Rejoice!

Second, find ways to rejoice. This time of year tends to be quite busy – especially if you have kids in school. Make a point of doing some things that you enjoy. Just as in Lent we denied ourselves some legitimate delights as a way to unite ourselves to Christ’s self-sacrifice, so during Easter we should intentionally enjoy the good things of life, as a way to unite ourselves to Christ’s victory and triumph. We always have a victory celebration when our team wins the championship – well, Jesus has won the eternal championship, and we are on his team; we need to celebrate that.

Obviously, I am not recommending that you dive into sinful pleasures, or that you over-indulge in self-centered activities. But I am recommending that we intentionally look for ways to rejoice, to enjoy God’s goodness such that joy overflows from our spirits, into our emotions, and even into our bodies. Why not make Sunday lunch a truly festive occasion for your family and friends every Sunday of Easter (different family members can be in charge of the menu each week)? Why not make a special trip or two to your favorite museum or take some extra time to enjoy your favorite music or a favorite author? Why not carve out some extra time during Easter for your whole family, or a few of you, to enjoy some activities that you haven’t had a chance to do for a long time? Why not reflect Easter joy in your wardrobe when you go to work (tastefully, of course)? If we surround these activities with a spiritual and prayerful intention – celebrating Christ’s victory – they become more than vacation activities; they becomes means of worship. God rejoices to see his children rejoice.

Spread the Light

Third, reach out. Jesus taught us that “there is more joy in giving than receiving” (Acts 20:35). Like the candlelight service during the Easter Vigil, we can share with others the light of Christ’s victory that we have received, and roll back the tattered shadows of the kingdom of darkness. Renewing our efforts to bring others closer to Christ, to help others who are in need – those close to us or those far away – can color our lives with Easter joy, if we season those efforts with prayer and faith. Christians should smile more during Easter, because true joy draws forth joy.

I hope these thoughts will inspire you to make some Easter resolutions. Why should Lent be the only time we make resolutions? God has graces in store for us this season, just as he did during Lent. We only need to keep our eyes peeled so that we don’t miss them.

What “Easter resolutions” have helped you in the past? Let us know!

 

Art: The Resurrection, Carl Heinrich Bloch, PD-US copyright expired, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at RCSpirituality.org, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at SpiritualDirection.com.

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  • judeen

    Easter,busy with candy , new clothes ,shoes, company, big dinners,, yet I think we all miss it ,, people leave church at communion, all dressed in their finery… it is a spiritual time too, very powerful… the doors of heaven are opening,, the apostles are bi locating… the scriptures talk of 2 of them … Peters shadow is healing people.. later Pauls apron which touch him are cut to heal people… this is what we are suppose to be expereincing!!! with a clean soul, and have sacraficed and prayed.. now it is the time of great blessings.. do we seek them? retreats like koinania, tec, (teens encounter christ) rec ( resedents encounter christ) is based on the death , and resurection .. this time of the year.. and 1 can see it on their faces.. as the resuretion comes around.. lives changed for life… healing of all kinds.. the Power of the Holy Spirit and Jesus mercy doing miricals. be happy , sing songs,, love another.. but immerse your self in the Power of God , this is the season

  • LizEst

    I have been reading “Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection” by Pope Benedict XVI. He’s very clear and explains a number of things that have always been a question in my mind. This has been a terrific way to spend Holy Week and now Easter Week.

  • marthawrites

    While making the liturgical connection of daily Scripture readings flood your mind with thoughts of thanksgiving in relation to those readings: see the Risen Christ working in your daily life to reveal Himself as He did at Emmaus. The more you look the more you see and the more you may be eager to share with others.

  • Clare

    My Lord, My Master, So Crucified,

    How shall this daughter’s prayer of Thanksgiving be in Eastertide  unto Thee?

    daughter,
    Faith is not a response to make God move
    Faith is a response to what God has already done

    Look for ME, between the Resurrection and my Ascension in the MUCH MORE,
    this will Please Me Greatly

    Where should daughter find Thee in the MUCH MORE?

    Among MY WORDS, you will find ME there,

    Sweet,

    Clare

  • Jzielinski1

    I always feel that New Easter Resolutions work out better than New Year’s Resolutions because they are clothed with the salvation of Jesus. And I pray every night to thank God for making this wonderful world and for making me. Then I sing the Yaweh hymn. Then I thank Jesus for saving us and for teaching us how to live in Him with love, forgiveness, mercy and giving. Then I sing Come to the Water and then I pray to the Holy Spirit and thank Him for being our advocate and giving us the graces we need to live out the life defined by Jesus as we should and I sing Come Holy Spirit. Finally, I pray to the Blessed Mother thanking her for being the model of saying yes to God. I then sing the Hail Mary the way I learned it at my school St. William’s in Philadelphia. When all is prayed, I fall asleep thanking God for Our Lady of Florida Passionists. You all are truly a gift from God and thanking him for my most wonderful husband, Bud. Good night and God bless you all.—
                                                                              Joan Zielinski

  • Jody Haaf Garneau

    re: Easter color. It should say “violet for Lent” (not violent)

    • LizEst

      Thank you so much for your eagle eyes, Jody. That’s been fixed.

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