Easter is a Season: Three Ways I’m Extending the Celebration

I have always loved the liturgical season of Lent. The rich traditions and symbols usually aid me greatly in my spiritual journey and this year was no different. My first Minnesota Lent proved to be meaningful and memorable. Some very personal crosses helped me draw closer to Christ and I enjoyed experiencing the liturgies at my new parish. It is also the first time in several years that I have not been working in ministry, which enabled me to minister to my family in new ways and share my love of Lent with my daughters who are just beginning to understand and participate in some of our Lenten traditions.

Despite having a certain affinity for Lent, I understand that Easter is our high feast. I know that we Catholics are an Easter people and I feel that for many years I’ve been giving Easter the short end of the stick (even though it’s longer than Lent!). Easter is a season after all. Yes, it’s a day. And it’s an octave. But it’s also a season. A season that lasts 50 days! In fact, Lent should purify and enlighten us in order to properly prepare us for Easter. Why do I seem to prefer the fasting of Lent to the feasting of Easter? Maybe I am a glutton for punishment. Or perhaps the perfectionist in me just relishes a chance to assess my spiritual life and attempt to weed out my vices. Whatever the reason for my preference, I’m choosing to embrace Easter more fully this year.

Jesus has risen from the dead! The cross was not the end of the story.  In rising, Christ conquered sin and death. It is upon this mystery that our faith rests. And this is our Good News! This is the Gospel that his followers died to proclaim. Furthermore, we too are promised resurrection. In our baptisms we died to sin and rose to new life in Christ. Am I celebrating that enough? What more can I do to celebrate this great gift that is my own salvation? How can I more fully live the Easter season and how can I better share my Easter joy? I’ve chosen three ways that I believe will help me more fully embrace the Easter season this year. First, I plan to be more appreciative of the Church’s Easter symbols. Second, I will be more open to the moments in which I can encounter the risen Lord in my daily life. Finally, I hope to be more intentional about sharing my faith with others.

  1. Appreciating the Symbols of Easter
    The Church helps us embrace the season of Easter in several ways. The beautiful lectionary readings help us journey back to those days when the risen Lord walked among his disciples. Things like Easter lilies, white garments, and the sprinkling rite bring joy to our senses. Feast days like Divine Mercy Sunday, Corpus Christi, and the Lord’s Ascension provide great content for prayer and reflection. I have merely to open my eyes and employ all my senses to appreciate the many ways the Church is inviting me into the mystery of the Resurrection.
  2.  Finding Christ in Daily Life
    Easter reminds us that Christ is alive and present in our lives. This year I hope to keep my eyes open for the risen Lord in my daily life. I have opportunities to encounter Him every day yet sometimes I am too self-centered or too busy to recognize Him. If I will but open my heart, I will see that He’s there in the crazy questions my daughters ask me. He’s there when my husband comforts my hurting heart. He’s there with my medical team who takes such good care of me. He’s there in those new friends who bring me muffins, sit with me at infusions, or watch my kids during yet another medical appointment. He’s there in the visits from faraway friends. He’s there in the recent invitation to be a godmother. And countless other experiences. Jesus is alive and he wants to reside in my heart. He wants me to find him in my everyday life and share Him with my loved ones.
  3. Spreading the Good News
    A third way that I plan to celebrate the season of Easter is through a natural and authentic witness to my faith. I’m not talking about being pushy or proselytizing but rather about sharing the joy that has been shared with me. Peter tells us that we have to be ready to give an account of our hope (1 Peter 3:15). How do we do this in our modern world? Well, it will, of course, look differently for each of us. As for me, I plan to start with own family and friends. I can talk to my daughters about the joy of the Resurrection and remind my husband that each trial we face is simply another cross that leads to our own rebirth in Christ. I can also offer an authentic example of faith to friends in the way that I live and when the opportunity presents itself to share with them that my deep hope comes from the risen Lord.

What about you? Have you put away your Easter decorations? How are you going to celebrate the risen Lord throughout this Easter season? Would you like to begin a new tradition this Easter season? Is Christ calling you to share your Easter joy with others in a new way this year? Feel free to leave a comment below sharing any Easter traditions that have proven helpful to you in your spiritual journey.

Molly Powers is not a native Minnesota girl. Rather, she hails from Atlanta, GA and lived in several different states and countries before she landed in Minnesota in 2017. She is a wife and mother of two. Read more about Molly on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Lent: Our Season of Love

This year for the first time since 1945, Ash Wednesday coincided with that saccharine Hallmark Holiday, Valentine’s Day. I’ve been reflecting on this rare coincidence and at first, found it rather hilarious. My husband and I are not wont to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s not because we disdain romance or because we don’t enjoy a nice date night. In fact, we try to make date nights a regular thing, which might be a part of why we don’t like Hallmark bossing us around and telling us when we should celebrate our love for each other.

After reflecting on the convergence of such seemingly divergent celebrations, I began to find the marriage of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday quite fitting and appropriate. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent and as such is most often equated with the themes of penance, sacrifice, prayer, almsgiving, and the like. We often spend this day of fasting and abstinence asking our friends and family what they are “giving up for Lent” or what spiritual disciplines they are taking up for the six and half week season. We wear ashes on our foreheads and forgo our usual snacks. On the other hand, things we associate with Valentine’s Day include indulgence, beauty, feasts, and gifts. But what is almsgiving if not a gift of love? What is penance if not an act of love? And what is prayer if not a song of love for our Father in heaven?

Lent is meant to prepare us for the Pascal Mystery, the celebration of Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection, which, of course, is the greatest act of love the world has ever known, much more grandiose and at the same time authentic than any Valentine any of us has ever given. Perhaps Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day have more in common than I initially thought.

Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition lift up married love as an image that can remind us of the Trinity. We hear repeatedly throughout Scripture how God’s love of the Church is like that of a groom for his bride. Isn’t this the type of love that Hallmark wants us to celebrate on February 14? The honeymoon-esk love? However, lasting married love isn’t about roses and chocolates (although who doesn’t love those?). It is much more so about sacrifice and humility and the grace received in the Sacrament of Matrimony. It turns out that some of the keys to a successful romantic relationship might be the same things that lead to a successful Lenten journey, namely prayer, sacrifice and humble self-gift.

Valentine’s Day is thought of as the quintessential celebration of love. I propose that Ash Wednesday, and in fact the entire Lenten season, are an even truer celebration of love. We will spend these next several weeks, purifying our hearts for the One who loves us most of all. How do you plan to grow in love for Christ this season?

Molly Powers is not a native Minnesota girl. Rather, she hails from Atlanta, GA and lived in several different states and countries before she landed in Minnesota in 2017. She is a wife and mother of two. Read more about Molly on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.