This past Friday we attended the monthly Evening of Recollection that is hosted by the priests of Miles Christi. It is a wonderful evening full of Mass, Adoration, benediction, spiritual talks and confession.
While I was there I was pondering the Easter Season. As Catholics, we know all about Lent...we count down the days until our penance and sacrificing can end in that Easter Joy! We know what it means to give things up, do extra things for others, give alms and add in some additional prayers.
What I have a hard time with is the 50 days of Easter. It is longer than Lent and full of the joy of the Risen Christ. Unfortunately, I find it harder to "do" because there isn't really a prescribed way of celebrating it for 50 days. I find the octave is easy to celebrate because you still see the visible signs of Easter around your house and at the altar in church. For at least eight days we're still picking Easter grass out of interesting places.
The last 10 days of the Easter season are easy, too. With Ascension Thursday (even though we celebrate it on Sunday now :( and the nine days leading up to the great feast of Pentecost, there's a lot of excitement building!
I talked to one of the priests about it and he said that these days are all about a spiritual joy which is why it is so much harder to celebrate because it is not something you can easily see and do. It is more like something you personally need to maintain. As an aside, I would like to mention that Father did point out that eating a lot during the entire Easter Season really isn't the best way to keep that joy alive. Darn, eating is how we celebrate best!
With eating not being an option, I think the best way to keep that Easter Joy alive is through prayer. Saying the Regina Caeli before dinner every night is one thing we all enjoy doing. We keep our "Alleluia" pictures hung up on the fireplace mantle the entire season, too. The Alleluia really is a great way to feel joyful, even if it is only momentary. As always, participating in daily Mass helps to keep us involved in the liturgical life of the church.
I welcome other ideas on how to keep that joy alive during this time, just in case you have any to share! It is so easy to let the burdens of life get you down and forget that we are an Easter people and we should be radiating right now! Pray, pray and pray some more...ask for the grace to be joyful...practice being joyful even when you don't feel much like it...all great ways to keep the Easter season alive in our hearts.