After we pass through the sorrows and sacrifices of Lent and Holy Week, Easter breaks forth as a great time of joy and celebration. It is the “Solemnity of solemnities” celebrated by the Church.
It is the day our hope was made complete—the day that Jesus conquered sin and death on our behalf in order to reconcile us to God. We can hope for and obtain all things through the victory of Jesus Christ.
The Resurrection and ascension are not simply there as a happy ending to a story of suffering and death…They are essential parts of the sacrifice of our Redemption, not a sequel to it.Frank Sheed, To Know Christ Jesus
Easter Isn’t a Day. It’s a Season!
For Catholics, Easter isn’t just a single day of celebration—it’s an entire season where we celebrate our new life in Christ. Just like Christmas, Easter is celebrated for an extended period of time—fifty days to be exact!
Christ’s resurrection was something necessary for the completion of the work of our redemption. For, Jesus Christ through his death freed us from sins; but by his resurrection he restored to us all that we had lost through sin and, moreover, opened for us the gates of eternal life…Also, the fact that he rose from the dead by his own power is a definitive proof that he is the Son of God, and therefore his resurrection fully confirms our faith in his divinity.The Navarre Bible Commentaries
The feast proper is celebrated for the full octave (Easter Sunday through Easter Saturday).
Then we enter Eastertide, the longer Easter season which ends on Pentecost Sunday. During this fifty days of Easter we relive the joyous events of the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary: the Resurrection, Ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost.
There are many ways you can make Eastertide a very special time of year for you and your family. Here are three easy ways to make the most of the Easter season this year.
1. Read the Easter passages of the Bible.
Many of us are more familiar with the account of Our Lord’s passion than the accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection and the subsequent events.
We should have these joyous events imprinted in our hearts and minds—after all, the Resurrection is so important that St. Paul said our faith is in vain without it (1 Corinthians 15:14)!
Matthew 27:62 to 28:20
Mark 15:42 to 16:20
Luke 23:50 to 24:53
John 19:38 to 21:25
Acts 1:1 to 3:26
This season, take some time to sit down and read—as you are able—the passages above on Jesus’ resurrection. Read the Book of Acts to learn about the transformation of the Apostles from cowardly men to fearless men.
2. Spread Easter cheer.
Get yourself in the Easter mood (and others too!) by sending out Easter cards this Eastertide. This is an easy way to remind friends that Easter is an entire season, not just a single day!
You can also spread the Easter cheer by surprising your family with Catholic Easter gifts that go beyond bunnies and chocolate. Make Easter cards and gifts, no matter how small, an annual tradition to honor the holiest time of year.
You can also bring back the traditional Catholic greeting at Easter: when you greet family and friends, say, “He is Risen!” The proper reply is, “He is risen, indeed!” Don’t be afraid to teach fellow Catholics this beautiful tradition!
3. Decorate the house.
Spring and the Resurrection go together!
Fill your house with the lovely fragrance of fresh flowers. Keep a beautiful bouquet in the kitchen, on the dining room table, and in each bedroom in honor of the Resurrection of Jesus and a sign of hope in our own resurrection. Give flowers to your loved ones to grace their homes as well in honor of the Easter solemnity.
You can also decorate your home by draping white sashes on all your crosses and crucifixes, thus reminding your family that the joy of this season goes beyond Easter Sunday.
3. Increase your devotion.
The fifty days between Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday is a great time to pray for the Holy Spirit to fill and transform your life, just as He did for the Apostles when they were living in fear in the Upper Room. The beautiful, simple prayers of the novena to the Holy Spirit are a great way to foster a devotion specifically to the Holy Spirit this Easter season.
This is also the time of year when catechumens are baptized and received as new Christians into the Church. Renew your own baptismal promises by bringing Holy Water into your home and using it regularly.
The second Sunday of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday, therefore this devotion is tied in a special way to the Easter season. There are many ways to make the Divine Mercy devotion a part of your life.
In addition to the Divine Mercy feast day, there is also the Divine Mercy image that you can have blessed and hanging in your home, the Divine Mercy chaplet which you can pray daily (it only takes five minutes!) and the Diary of Faustina Kowalska (the visionary who brought this great devotion to the world) which you can read during Eastertide.
With these simple ideas, you can enjoy your fifty days of Eastertide in a new and special way this year with your friends and family.
What would you add to this list? Please share any other ideas on how to squeeze as much joy as possible out of this glorious season!