Easter Mass has ended and everyone is still alive. The big meal was prepared, eaten, and is (mostly) digested. Fancy dresses and suits have hopefully (but perhaps not likely) made their way into the dirty clothes hamper. Family members and friends have said their goodbyes and headed home, and the chocolate bunny is wondering where his ears and tail went. Oops.
ALLELUIA, EVERYONE! We made it! Easter is over!!
Well, hold on. Not exactly. The Church, in Her wisdom, provides us with helpful mile markers throughout the year to remind us of who we are and to Whom we belong. For example, during the 40 days of Lent, we fasted, prayed, and gave alms – hopefully releasing imbalanced attachments to things and improper attitudes while adopting good practices and habits that led us closer to Christ.
As Catholics, we believe that Easter is a 50-day season, and as such, Easter begins when we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord from the tomb. Just as a couple’s wedding day isn’t the end game for the Sacrament of Matrimony but rather the very first day of the spouses’ new life together, Easter is the starting point to a whole season of time celebrating new life in our Risen Lord.
When I was growing up, the pretty Easter dresses (and, often, new white shoes) make their way out of the closet for my sister and me, and we attended Easter Sunday Mass together as a family. Afterward, we usually joined with our cousins for a lively Easter egg hunt in the yard or inside, depending on how damp and cold the Oregon weather was. We ate a lot of really good food and probably a bit too much candy. But I honestly don’t remember celebrating Easter much after Sunday. Eventually we found all the lingering plastic eggs, the Easter baskets and bonnets were packed back up, and that was about it for Easter. It was a very special and important day, to be sure, but the Church reminds us that it’s just the beginning!
Now with five children of our own, I am drawn to traditions and practices that keep Easter alive for the full 50 days of the season, which, frankly, sounds a bit daunting. Here are some ideas for keeping the Resurrected Lord alive in your home long after the last jelly bean has disappeared.
- Jesus is Risen – Let Us Sing! Greet people with, “Happy Easter!” throughout the entire Easter Season (it ends on May 24, which is Pentecost Sunday). At the grocery store, on the ball field, in the carpool line or at the homeschooling co-op: don’t be afraid to spread the joy of Jesus with people in your life. Who cares if peoplefolks give you funny looks? Perhaps you’ll be afforded a unique opportunity to evangelize and share the joy of our faith. Personally, I’m a fan of having people look at me like I’m crazy for all the right reasons. But maybe that’s just me.
- Jesus is the Light of the World Light a special Easter candle during dinner each night of the Easter season. Or go into the attic or garage or storage unit or special drawer/box and find everyone’s baptismal candle to light during Sunday supper to remind yourselves how, through the waters of baptism, you have died and risen with Christ. Think of ways your family can be Jesus’ light to one another, in your parish, and in your greater community and go do something about it!
- Jesus is the Good News – the Hope for Salvation Read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection aloud during family devotion and prayer time on Sundays throughout Easter (See: Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-14, Luke 24:1-44, and John 20:1-29). If you have children who can read, allow them to take turns. Report back to one another bits of “good news” you’ve heard and experienced over the course of your day. Younger children can draw pictures of their good news, and pin it on the refrigerator or other prominent display place in your home.
- Jesus is the Risen King and in Him we have New Life Plant an Easter mini-garden (or planter pot) using seasonal flora outside with your kiddos. Or bring a meal to a family with a new baby (call ahead to see if it’s okay with Mom and Dad and to check for allergies, etc.). Make plans to visit the baby chicks or ducks or lambs at a local farm. Rejoice in the new life around you!
- Jesus is Alive! In Him we are a New Creation Check out the Catholic Mom archives, Catholic Icing, and The Catholic Toolbox for creative ideas to keep the Easter season alive.
Now it’s your turn – how do you celebrate the Season of Easter and keep it alive in your home? Share your favorite practices and traditions in the comments. Until next time, Happy Easter!
Copyright 2015 Heather Renshaw
Photo used with permission from Wikimedia Commons