Easter spirit need not fade - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Easter spirit need not fade

All through Lent you sacrificed and prayed, maybe went extra times to Mass during the week, perhaps made a real effort to read the Scriptures or some inspirational material. You got your spiritual life in order and tried to get closer to our awesome God.

Then Easter Sunday came and you, like me, experienced the Resurrection all over again, the pure and absolute joy of new hope and new life, what the Catechism calls “the Feast of Feasts” and “solemnity of solemnities.”

All the extra effort and introspection, the hours in church, the meatless Fridays, the sacrifices and the extra big and little somethings we did during Lent, all were worth it. Wasn’t it lovely to see our churches filled to the brim, just like the children’s baskets on Easter morning? And after the Masses, for those of us who were able, our tables were full and family and friends were plentiful.

And then Easter Sunday was over and, in a few short weeks, the Easter season of the church will fade into memory.

Naturally, we all feel the letdown of the day after a major holiday for which we have done much to prepare. Don’t we all feel a little bit askew, a bit down about the passing of the big day — not unlike the moment when all the Christmas presents are unwrapped and all our preparation lies in a heap of paper on the floor? Leading up to Easter and over the 40 days of Lent and through Pentecost, we get into new patterns and new exercises that help us focus and appreciate our life in Christ. We are naturally sorry to see them end.

Yet we need not and should not let the Easter spirit go.

Easter is not an end, but a beginning!

We must embrace Easter as the first day of the rest of our spiritual lives, the arrival at our destination after a long Lenten journey.

On Easter Sunday, you felt the power of the Resurrection and what it means to be a Christian, and were bathed in the light of salvation. You received the Bread of Life, renewed your baptismal promises and, in return, received God’s promise of eternal life.

It was not an offer that expired at midnight Easter night.

St. Paul tells us in Ephesians that as Christians we must “put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.”

“Put on a new self.” That is a powerful image.

How can we keep the Easter feeling going? Please let me offer a few suggestions.

Why does our spiritual reading need to stop until next Lent? Couldn’t we all benefit from reading about the lives of the saints, plunging into the Bible, taking a class at St. Bernard’s School of Ministry and Theology?

If during Lent we found nourishment in attending Mass during the week, as many people like to do, as well as on Sunday, why must we stop? Perhaps in our life after Easter we can make a point of getting to Mass as often as we can — especially on Sunday — so we can be nourished by the Eucharist and the company of other pilgrims.

Is some habit or dependence dominating our lives? Let’s use the same energy we had during Lent to eliminate it.

Is there time in our lives we could carve out to do some much-needed volunteer work? There is no shortage of need — 365 days a year.

What about our prayer lives? Remember how fervently you prayed on Good Friday, how grateful you felt for Jesus’ sacrifice, how the Stations of the Cross moved you? Remember how deep was your prayer and how blessed you felt on Easter morning?

Don’t let those feelings wane and disappear until the next big church holiday comes along.

You received a tremendous gift, a wonderful grace, from God during Lent and on that glorious Easter morning.

Please don’t let God’s gift of Easter get dusty on the shelf until, say, Christmas time comes.

Your “new self” is a gift you can’t wear out. The more you use it, the stronger it gets.

In fact, it is guaranteed for eternity.

Peace to all.

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