“O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages.”
—St. John Chrysostom, Easter Homily
As you probably already know, Easter is not just a one-day holiday in the Catholic Church. It is a 50-day season of celebrating and meditating on Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the event on which our entire faith is centered.
During the Octave of Easter, which is the eight days between Easter Sunday and Divine Mercy Sunday, it is as if each day is Easter Sunday! If you are reading the daily Gospel readings with us each day, you probably already have noticed that all of them are related to the various accounts of the Risen Lord.
Fifty days is a long time to celebrate something. But when we recall that what we are celebrating is the most important aspect of our faith, we are grateful that in the Church’s wisdom, we are given ample time to focus on what the resurrection means in salvation history as well as what it means to us, personally.
We do not have to keep the party going for 50 days, though! After all, most of us have jobs, school and chores to attend to, not to mention the upcoming spring sports schedule and various family commitments to incorporate into the daily routine.
But if we can sprinkle a few key celebratory moments into our normal schedule, then perhaps we can still maintain a spirit of Easter between now and Pentecost Sunday (May 24). And perhaps celebrating the Easter season will allow our faith to become an even more intricate part of our everyday life, well into Ordinary Time and beyond.
Here are five simple things to do this Easter season to keep the joyous celebration of Christ’s Resurrection alive in the hearts of you and your family:
1. Take Your Own Emmaus Walk. One of the Resurrection accounts takes place on a road. Found in the Gospel of Luke 24:13-35, two disciples encounter Jesus while walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. At first, the disciples do not recognize Jesus, but He walks with them and explains the Scriptures to them. Finally, they recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
On a nice sunny day, take a walk on a favorite path or find a new hiking trail to explore. At some point, take a break, enjoy a simple snack, and read the Emmaus reading. What would you talk to Jesus about if He joined you on your walk? Ponder the times in your life when you did not recognize Jesus’ presence in your life as well as those moments when He is more recognizable to you.
2. Host a Divine Mercy Tea Party. On Divine Mercy Sunday (April 11), close to the three o-clock hour, the traditional hour of Divine Mercy, gather family and friends to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Set up an image of the Divine Mercy, even if it’s only a holy card, and light a candle during the prayer time. Afterward, enjoy tea or another favorite beverage along with these pretty Divine Mercy-inspired cookies that CatholicMom.com contributor Barbara Stein features on her food blog. Invite each person to share his own experiences of God’s mercy, love and forgiveness.
3. Honor One (or Two) of God’s Saints. Do you or one of your children have a patron saint whose feast day is celebrated during the spring? If so, this is a great place to start! If not, look ahead on the liturgical calendar to see which saints are honored during this time of year. Some possibilities include St. George (April 23), St. Mark (April 25) and St. Catherine of Siena (April 29).
Honoring the feast days of the saints can be simple or elaborate; it’s really up to you. For a simple plan, consider attending Mass that day, followed by a special breakfast. Other activities could include reading a short account of the saint’s life, asking the saint for his or her intercession for a particular prayer request, gifting someone who is named after the saint with a special prayer card or medal, or celebrating with a trip to the ice cream shop.
4. Set up a Mary Altar. Much of the Easter season is within the month of May, which is dedicated to the Blessed Mother. Set up an extra-special space in your home to honor Our Lady. A Mary altar doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be simple but beautiful atop a fireplace mantle or bookshelf. If you don’t have a statue of Mary, a framed holy card and Rosary can adorn your altar. Get the children involved by asking them to make little bouquets of flowers for the Blessed Mother. Light a candle, and take time to pray (alone and with your family) in front of your altar every day.
5. Celebrate a Birthday. Pentecost, the last day of Easter, is the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Blessed Mother and the apostles as tongues of fire. It is traditionally known as the birthday of the Church, so why not have a birthday party? On this special day, attend Mass and be sure to wear red or orange to symbolize the Holy Spirit. After lunch or dinner, serve birthday cake like this one from Catholic Cuisine. Conclude with a prayer to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to govern your thoughts, words and actions.
St. Augustine of Hippo said that “we are an Easter people and ‘Alleluia’ is our song!” And because of this, the Church gives us 50 days to meditate on this reality and celebrate the hope Jesus’ Resurrection gives us. May we enjoy this season to the fullest!
Your turn: How do you celebrate the Easter season? Do you have traditions or special customs? Please share them in the comments below.
Copyright 2015 Sarah Damm.
Photo of walk: Copyright Stephen McKay and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Photo of cake: Copyright Catholic Cuisine. All rights reserved. Used with permission.