In a culture that moves quickly to the next thing, it is hard to celebrate Easter for fifty days. We are probably better at living the forty days of Lent than we are about living the fifty days of Easter. As soon as Easter Sunday comes and goes, it almost feels like it’s back to Ordinary Time. Even though the priest is wearing white, I am still kind of taken aback when I hear him pray in the Preface of the Mass, “overcome with paschal joy…” Wait, wasn’t paschal joy the stuff of last week?
Are we still “overcome”? While we may be happy Lent is over, are we still celebrating Easter? What are some simple ways we can continue to celebrate?
Continue to say it. Perhaps this is a little easier for me, since I work for the Church. People might think I’m a little crazy for continuing to open or end my emails with “Happy Easter,” but they probably give me a pass since I’m the diocesan Director of Adult Formation. But while I’m not suggesting the CFO of a Fortune 500 company signs his next work email, “Happy Easter!”, I do think we should continue to remind our family and friends that we are still celebrating with paschal joy, even with a simple greeting.
Pray the Regina Caeli. The Church traditionally recognizes the mystery of the Incarnation daily with the praying of the Angelus. For those of us who live or work close to a Catholic church, we may hear the bells ringing at 6am, noon, and 6pm. These call the faithful to pause and pray the Angelus, that beautiful Marian prayer that recalls the Word becoming flesh. During the Easter season, the Angelus prayer is replaced with the Regina Caeli, or “Queen of Heaven, Rejoice!”
Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia. / For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
Has risen, as he said, alleluia. / Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. / For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.Pausing to pray at noon is a great habit to cultivate year-round, and during the Easter season it is another reminder to us that we are still in celebration mode. Set the alarm on your phone or create a notification on your computer to remind you to stop what you’re doing at noon and celebrate Christ’s Resurrection with his mother.
Let yourself celebrate. While we don’t want to commit the sin of gluttony or intemperance, we should allow ourselves to celebrate these fifty days by indulging a little. If you were good at fasting for forty days, you should allow yourself to celebrate during Easter. Be careful that the good habits you created during Lent don’t fall by the wayside, and obviously, you shouldn’t return to any sinful behavior that was conquered during those days! But a piece of dark chocolate or a glass of wine after dinner, perhaps with a little toast of, “He is Risen!” is entirely called for. You can also find other ways that don’t involve food or drink, perhaps allowing yourself those extra minutes of leisure reading or planning a family activity on a Sunday afternoon to celebrate the Lord’s day. Don’t forget to point out to your children that this special treat is because we are still in the Easter season.
Meditate on Scripture. The daily Mass readings last week were the accounts of the post-Resurrection appearances, and they all give ample fruit for meditation. Put yourself in Thomas’ shoes or walk with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. All throughout Easter, the first readings at daily Mass will be from Acts of the Apostles and explore the days of the early Church. How were the Apostles changed? How did they live this new reality? We have become apathetic and desensitized to the event of the Resurrection. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the fire of those first disciples and become familiar with their paschal joy adventures.
Evangelize. What did Mary Magdalene do immediately after realizing the Lord had risen? What did the two disciples do after discovering in Emmaus that the Lord had appeared to them? They all ran to share the news. We are not to keep our paschal joy to ourselves. If we truly believe the Lord is risen as he said, we will want the whole world to know the joy of the Gospel. Christ appeared to his followers not simply for their own faith, but so that they would go out to the world with the Good News. Fortified by the grace of the Resurrection and the fire of the Holy Spirit, we must go out to our family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors prepared to make a defense for the hope they see in us (1 Pt 3:16).
We are only in the second week of Easter, so we have a lot of celebrating ahead of us. So enjoy that second cup of coffee, crack open the Scriptures and remember He is risen!