The Lenten season is over and Jesus is out of the tomb. It is time to celebrate the joy of the Resurrection and Christ’s victory over sin and death for as St. Augustine tells us, “We are an Easter people.” But, what does that mean for most of us?
As a child growing up in what I would call a fairly devout Catholic family, Easter celebrated the fact that Christ opened the gates of Heaven for all of us and we would one day be reunited with Him in paradise. While I probably appreciated that on some level, most of my memories of Easter Sunday were that after four long weeks of not eating candy, and three long days of having to go to church or be quiet in our house while Jesus was in the tomb, we could now hoot and holler as we searched for our Easter basket and devoured the candy left behind by the Easter bunny.
Like most children at that age, chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps, jelly beans in all kinds of flavors, and a new dress and patent leather shoes to wear to Easter Sunday Mass meant more to me than Christ’s victory over sin and death. Looking back on it now, I think that my parents were like most in our community who reverenced and honored the gift of Easter Sunday as a one-day special event like Christmas. I don’t ever recall celebrating Easter as a season, or them teaching us to appreciate it as such.
In an online article by Word Among Us Press, the authors encourage families to sustain an “Easter Spirit” by celebrating the Easter season, the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost Sunday. The suggestions are as simple as lighting a candle at family meals to recall the light of Christ or draping crucifixes and crosses with a strip of white cloth. There are other websites with ideas listed at the end of this article. One suggestion that I had never heard before is praying the Stations of the Resurrection devotion which parallels the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. What a creative and positive way to teach children about walking in the light of Christ’s love.
During Easter week we recall the Scripture story about two disciples encountering Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Consider taking your own Emmaus walk with your family. Talk about what is going on in each of your lives and then imagine what you would each say to Jesus if He were walking alongside of you as well. When the birthday of the Church comes this year on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, why not bake a cake, throw a party and celebrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to you as a family?
So many of us have incorporated special Lenten practices, devotions and disciplines into our lives for the past 40 days. Now that we are in the mindset of focusing on our spiritual lives, why not continue by including some activities that will help us celebrate the next 50 days with greater intention and meaning and become what St. Augustine refers to us as: “An Easter people.”
-- Mary-Jo McLaughlin
Visit these websites for more ideas on celebrating the Easter Season with your family: