By MARIA SERMERSHEIM
‘Tis the season to celebrate: Easter! No, this article is not published three weeks late; rather, we are in the thick of the festal time. The Easter season is a full 50 days, so we are only halfway through it. Unfortunately, however, the Church’s liturgical calendar is woefully underrated in the average Catholic’s life. I have seen a few families – and moms’ blogs – that cultivate liturgical living by changing decorations, family prayers, and perhaps even meal plans; but otherwise, very little in daily life demonstrates that it is still Easter. As a Church, we should recognize the right order of time and manifest the liturgical seasons more readily in our lives, taking cues from the liturgy itself.
For a few years now, some lines from the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer have been my favorite words of Mass. The priest says, “It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father most holy….” I am often drawn to pray with these words, so I tend to notice when they change, and the variations for the Easter season are stellar! The priest says instead, “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, at all times to acclaim you, O Lord, but in this time above all to laud you yet more gloriously when Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.”
So how do we laud (praise) God yet more gloriously and live the liturgical calendar?
Outwardly, we can show the seasons in our parties and our presentation. Leviticus prescribed festivals for holy days because it is good to gather and celebrate sacred occasions. To steal a line from Father Gregory Pine, O.P., “We go to God together,” so the celebration of holy things should certainly be a communal event. In presentation, we can wear nicer clothes; perhaps take some recommendations from those blogs about how to decorate our homes; and we can state the reason for our joy. When others comment on the nice pearl earrings for what seems to be a random Monday, we can praise God and name his Resurrection as the cause of our special treatment of the day.
Inwardly (and practically), we can grow in virtue. We give glory to God by conforming our lives to Christ’s and being cheerful givers of our time, talents, treasure, and desires. One Eastertide Eucharistic Prayer continues, “with the old order destroyed, a universe cast down is renewed, and integrity of life is restored to us in Christ.” Our Lenten resolutions were useless if they did not bring us closer to Christ, restoring us in some way to integrity of life. If our Lenten observances were prudent, then in Easter we can exercise the virtues we learned without the discomfort of the growing pains. This ability to choose the good and live virtuously is true freedom; it is a freedom gained through the grace of Christ that is worth celebrating.
We are human, situated in space and time; we are composites of soul and body, and the physical and spiritual influence each other. To render right worship, we fulfill God’s first purpose for humankind – to order all things well, including time. So this Eastertide, let us order well our good parties, practical details of life, and practice of virtue. If Easter was forgotten because the dyed eggs are gone, the leftovers are finally eaten and all the discounted chocolate bunnies are sold, think again. Let us be “overcome with paschal joy” and take advantage of this time above all to laud the Lord yet more gloriously.