Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Living the Easter Season - It's Not Business as Usual

An interesting reality is that many people do not really know how to live the 50 Days of the Easter Season - how not to drift back into "business as usual."  For Catholics, Easter is not just a day, but an entire season, lasting until Pentecost.  It is supposed to be a 50-day celebration of joy. Wilted presiders, liturgists and musicians, exhausted by the preparation for and celebration of the feast, will make a stab at it. Most likely, the music at weekend Mass will be "bigger" while art and environment people work to maintain the flower-decorated space as the lilies continue to open. However, as the lilies fade, much of our enthusiasm of the community for the Resurrection will too. 

Now is the appropriate time for large parish gatherings, social celebrations and more. Yet with the fish fries of Lent over, the reality is that the community's attention is turning to First Communion, in some cases, Confirmation, and to preparations for graduations and the other "rites of spring."  Yes, these are celebrations.  The challenge is how to connect these, which in the U.S. normally take on the cultural framework of family celebrations in the life of the individual person, to the community's ongoing celebration of Easter.

Certainly, music is one way to do that. But unless it is an obvious Easter hymn, such as "Jesus Christ is Risen Today," do the people in the pews even notice? And, if a familiy does not have anyone celebrating any of those sacraments or key moments, it may be more likely that they see this time as baseball season or the gardening season than the Easter Season.

I believe we need to instill an Easter Season spirituality in our people. Their way of dressing, acting, and their priorities should continue during the 50 Days to reflect a sense of joyful celebration. It should not be something that only happens in church.  Good catechesis on the Easter Season helps people see that Easter is a way of life.... certainly each Sunday is a "little Easter" - but the joy of the Resurrection should be a year-round thing. We should celebrate the love of God that is so great that he gave his only begotten Son to live with us, and to die for us, in everything we say and do - most especially during the Easter Season.

If, as Augustine said "We are an Easter People and Alleluia is Our Song," we need to tell our faces.

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