The Art of Celebrating Easter: More Joy, Less Bingeing

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Every year the Church asks 1.2 billion faithful Catholics to pray, fast, and give alms more for 40 days (plus a few for the Triduum and such) to prepare for 50 days of celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.  

If you asked those 1.2 billion people which is longer, Lent or Easter, how many would realize it’s Easter?  

If you asked those people which season changes them more, looks more different from normal life—ordinary time—, and which is on their mind more during it, how many would say Easter?  

Until recently, I wouldn’t have answered “Easter” to either question.  Lent stretches on and on while Easter—or at least my celebration of Easter—lasted a day.  After one big meal and bingeing on all the junk food and worthless habits I’d resisted for six weeks, it was all over.

Easter doesn’t technically end until Pentecost, which is 50 days later.  By then I’d long forgotten my time in the desert and had gone back to normal life as if nothing had happened.

So, what does it look like to celebrate Easter well?  It all starts with a good Lent.

A couple weeks ago, my wife wrote about being intentional during Lent.  This is where it all starts.  Pass through Lent without changing anything and Easter won’t have any meaning either.  On the other hand, be too draconian and scrupulous during Lent and Easter is far more likely to be a celebration of an end of the torture than anything else.

Lenten observances are not a way to show how tough or pious we are.  They’re intended to sharpen our focus on the reality of our sin and our need for a savior.  That’s the point.  “Jesus died on a cross so I’m not going to drink Mountain Dew” is fine as long as every time you want a drink it helps you remember your desperate need for salvation.  If a Lenten observance does anything else—makes you cranky, resentful, or prideful—then I may not be the Lent Police, but I’m pretty sure you’re doing it wrong!

After several weeks of self-denial, charity, prayer focused on our need for salvation, and a liturgical broadside from Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday, we’ll finally be ready to embrace Easter when it comes.

Step two, then, is to celebrate Easter!  How do you celebrate?  Do you know how to celebrate?

Celebration is something of a lost art for the modern American and I’m no exception.  I do a much better job finding the faults and failings in the world and my heart than celebrating the victories.  That’s a tragedy!

Easter lasts 50 days!  What will you do to celebrate?  Will you go to daily Mass each week to encounter the Resurrected Lord?  Will you go to Adoration more often to wonder at God’s generosity?  Will you make each Sunday of Easter a special holy day in your home where you eat a memorable meal, slow down, tell stories, pray as a family, and let the sabbath mean something?

Or will you eat three bags of Doritos, feel disgusting, and go on with your life?

This Lent, my family unanimously agreed to cut out all electronics for personal entertainment.  We do work and school assignments on them but no video games.  I cannot possibly express how blessed we’ve been by this!  For the first time in my life, I don’t really want Lent to end.  I don’t want to go back.

The beautiful thing is, I don’t have to.

Lent and Easter aren’t an annual merry-go-round that doesn’t go anywhere.  They’re supposed to change us.  Tara and I are talking to each other and our kids about what Easter, and ordinary time after that, will look like.  We want these seasons—and Jesus’ Resurrection—to change our family!  We want to focus, celebrate, and grow.

I pray you may, too!

 

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