As I write this, we are approaching the 5th Sunday of Easter, meaning that we will now be breaking into the last weeks of Eastertide before Pentecost Sunday. Every Easter I have the same thought, usually at some point in the Easter Octave, once the drama and intensity of the Triduum is over and done. My thought is that Eastertide is hard to celebrate sometimes.
There is a reason why churches can be fuller on Good Friday than on Easter Sunday. As humans, we understand grief. We are familiar with pain. We have known loss all our lives. It may be difficult to understand that God feels our suffering, but we sure can identify with His Son’s.
And then Easter happens. The joy of the Resurrection! It is beautiful; it is life-changing. Death does not have the final word. But it is beyond our understanding. We are so familiar with grief and sadness, because they are part of ourselves. But Resurrection? Joy? Redemption? Resurrection is an enigma to our logic, and as for joy and happiness, we catch these in fleeting moments – not always for long.
The Church gives us six weeks for Lent, and seven for Eastertide. Without the Resurrection, the events of Good Friday are meaningless. We all long for joy; we all strive to find peace in our lives. We are all looking for meaning. Lent builds up to the crescendo that is Easter; we have something to strive for in it. But Eastertide, which lasts longer, can feel less focused, and can trickle away without our noticing it.
Are we meant to have pure joy for the entirety of Eastertide? How do we maintain the momentum of celebration?! How do we even remind ourselves it is still Easter?!
Well, first up, there is obviously a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is the immediate reaction to something good, something that gives us pleasure/enjoyment. It could be likened to a hit or a high. Joy is something sustained, it is a sure-fire assertion that ‘everything is going to be okay’. It is the knowledge that God holds our life, no matter what. That is why you can be joyful even in the saddest of situations (even if that sounds crazy). So we’re not going to be able to ride on a fluffy cloud of happiness because of Easter. That dilutes the Resurrection anyway. The Resurrection goes so much deeper than that. It says that death does not have the last word. It says that there is something beyond what is final.
Secondly, we have to accept that the Resurrection is a mystery, and then enter into it. Pope Francis explains this far better than I could when he says:
“Entering the tomb…that is why we are here: to enter, to enter into the mystery which God has accomplished with his vigil of love. We cannot live Easter without entering into the mystery. It is not something intellectual, something we only know or read about…it is more, much more! To enter into the mystery means the ability to wonder, to contemplate; the ability to listen to the silence by which God speaks to us. (cf.1K 19.12) To enter into the mystery demands that we not be afraid of reality: that we not be locked into ourselves, that we not flee from what we fail to understand, that we not close our eyes to problems or deny them, that we not dismiss our questions…To enter into the mystery means going beyond our own comfort zone, beyond the laziness and indifference which holds us back, and going out in search of an answer, and not an easy one, to the questions which challenge our faith, our fidelity, and our very existence. To enter into the mystery, we need humility, the lowliness to abase ourselves, to come down from the pedestal of our “I” which is so proud, of our presumption; the humility not to take ourselves so seriously, recognising who we really are: creatures with strengths and weaknesses, sinners in need of forgiveness. To enter into the mystery, we need the lowliness that is powerlessness, the renunciation of our idols…in a word, we need to adore. Without adoration, we cannot enter into the mystery.” Pope Francis, Easter Vigil homily
So, Easter may be a celebration that is beyond our understanding – but that is okay. We celebrate it by accepting that it is something (wonderful!) but beyond us. All we need do is adore.
Thirdly, and finally, we can do some practical and special things to keep us celebrating all the way through to Pentecost.
We have some suggestions. What would be your 8th? Let us know in the comments below!
7 Ways to Remind Yourself We’re Still Celebrating Easter
1. Pray the Glorious Mysteries, regardless of the day of the week, until the end of Eastertide, to help you really meditate and go deeper into the events of the Resurrection.
2. Keep some Easter decorations up to visually remind you that we’re still in Easter and keep your place looking festive.
3. Pray the Via Lucis – the Way of Light. It is a similar format to the Stations of the Cross, but for Eastertide. You can find it here.
4. Pray the Regina Coeli prayer. It’s short and sweet and very much about Easter! You can find it here.
5. Keep wishing people a Happy Easter when you greet them! If they look at you, confused, you can explain why!
6. Set aside some time in the remaining weeks (maybe on the Sundays) to do something out of your usual routine – cook a special meal, go for a beautiful walk, spend time as a family.
7. Prepare for Pentecost – Read the Pentecost scriptures, check out the videos on the http://thewildgooseisloose.com website and plan to make Pentecost a special day of celebration too.
No, this isn’t a list of cute children’s songs about the Easter Bunny. We’ve found some songs with powerful lyrics that will lead you in your joy of the risen Lord.