MCMULLIN: What are you doing for Easter?

May 23, 2023

Pope Francis carries an Easter candle during an Easter Liturgy at the Vatican. (Photo by Antoine Mekary / Godong)

How’s your Easter going? Have you been asked that lately? Probably not. These kinds of questions are usually reserved for Lent when we are checking on that friend who gave up caffeine.

At a Mass I attended during the Easter Octave, the priest explained that he was “on a one-man mission to get people to celebrate Easter.” He went on to say that it is his experience that we tend to put so much time into Lent, discerning what we will give up or take on as penance. We ask each other what we are doing for Lent, and we check on each other.

For Easter, we do not plan as much and never do we ask what another person is doing, except for maybe Easter Sunday. Being that Easter is crucial and as a season lasts longer than Lent (Eastertide), the priest felt this needed to change.

The priest’s guidelines for what to do for Easter?

“Do what you love and what will help you praise and give glory to God.” As a retreat director, he had a group that he would guide through Lent, encouraging them in their sacrifices. Once it was Easter, he invited them to consider what they could do for Easter. They decided to go for a camping trip, so they could be close to God’s creation, walking among the new wildflowers and lying under a sky of stars at night.

This got me thinking. What am I doing for Easter?

On the one hand, of course, we get to eat the foods and look at our phones again. We sing “Alleluia” and “Glory to God” at Mass. These actions are different from Lent. As I sat with it some more, I began to wonder if I really do celebrate Easter. How does my life now look different from Ordinary Time? There’s the reciting of the “Gloria” at daily Mass during the Octave, which is special, but what else could I be doing?

Just as we set aside specific penitential acts for Lent, maybe we should set aside specific celebratory acts for Easter outside of the Liturgy. A camping trip is a good idea because it could be a celebration of community and God’s creation. If you can’t take a full camping trip, perhaps you could take friends or family for a hike through nature. A quick visit to the Internet brought a few more: Read the resurrection passages from Scripture or read the book of Acts and reflect on the transformation that took place in the Apostles.

There was also the idea of adding white to the crucifixes in our homes and placing floral arrangements or new plants around the home. This all connects to the fact that we live in seasons. As Catholics, we do live liturgically, and what we do, say, and see enhances that, helping us to tune into God, our creator and redeemer.

I wonder if we find it difficult to be joyful because we cannot imagine beyond what we see. In a daily Gospel recently, Jesus chastises the crowd that comes looking for Him because they “ate the loaves and were filled.” He warns them and us not to work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures. They were accepting a lesser good. We do, too.

Applying that to Easter: if we are just fine with getting social media back and eating cake again, we are missing the opportunity for even great joy.

Instead of seeking more of the same, we are invited to seek Jesus. Perhaps a good Easter practice would be for us to remember when we ourselves were experiencing a Good Friday, and then God came through with an Easter and sharing that with someone. We could also spend more time with the Eucharist or attend daily Mass. Whatever we decide to do, let’s check in on each other because we may have forgotten that we are “Easter people.” 

Claire McMullin is the vocations volunteers training manager with the Office of Vocations.