Did the title of this post strike you as extremely ironic? It is ironic, because of our wayward culture that has gone totally off course, of course! But, the great news is, we can evangelize this culture by celebrating! (Perhaps that should be this site’s new motto, “Evangelization through celebration.”) We must celebrate especially hard to joyfully keep the holiday of Easter as a holy day: the Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord. Busy keeping Christ in Christmas every winter, we must also keep Christ in Easter in the spring! If you’re creative or determined, you’ll come up with far more than ten ways to do this, but perhaps you’d like some ideas to get you started. So, here they are:
- Decorate your home and home altar with pictures and symbols of the Resurrection. Of course, having an icon or painting of the Resurrection is going to be the best image for the center of your home altar! Surround this image with fresh lilies and beautiful white flowers. Since light is a theme of the Easter Season, I plan on having a glorious array of candles to be lit on the evening of the Easter vigil and the succeeding nights of the Octave. For the extra ambitious, you can join me in imitating the Benedictine monasteries of the Age of Faith by decorating your home altar with the most beautiful gold and silver decorations you can find, either finding items you already have at home or by buying/making new things for this Easter.
- Use the Easter greetings with your family. During the season of Easter, Latin speakers can say, “Surrexit Dominus vere!” to be answered with, “Deo gratias!” Greek speakers can say, “Christos aneste!” to be answered with, “Alethos aneste!” English speakers can say, “Christ is risen!” to be answered with, “He is risen indeed, alleluia!”
- Sing the ancient Easter chants. If you don’t sing anything else, do sing the Easter Sequence, the Victimae Paschali Laudes each night of the Octave of Easter. (Sheet music here.) Other Easter chants are found in my favorite chant resource, the Parish Book of Chant. The music for this season is absolutely glorious, some pieces solemn and some pealing like bells. We’ll be joyfully singing the Gloria and the Alleluia at Holy Mass again now, hurrah!
- Rise at dawn on Easter morning to greet the sunrise singing. This is an ancient tradition, and a very good reason to start learning Easter chants now, so you’re ready to sing early on Easter morning when you’re only half-awake! (I plan to do this–since I live in an apartment, I will have go to a local park where I won’t disturb anyone!)
- Wear new clothes to Mass. Purchasing new clothes for Easter, so as to symbolize the new life of the Resurrection, is an ancient Christian custom. In Ireland, the old saying went, “For Christmas, food and drink, for Easter, new clothes.” Although it seems like it might be a worldly or silly custom, done in the pious spirit of honoring God and thanking Him for making us new creations, this old tradition can bring a spiritual dimension even to the commonplace task of dressing for Mass!
- Prepare and serve traditional Easter foods. For Easter, there are two traditional meats: lamb and ham. If you decide to serve a dish of lamb, you can be aware of the continuity of the Christian Paschal tradition with the Jewish tradition that came before. Serving an Easter ham instead, you can ponder the new law of Christianity where Christ’s Resurrection and the establishment of His Church made all foods (including pork/ham) clean. Easter breads made with lots of butter and eggs are traditional dishes for this time all over Europe, Eastern Europe, and in Russia. There are many more recipes on this Easter page and here at Catholic Cuisine.
- Celebrate the Octave of Easter. Take the time to pray and meditate on the Scripure passages every day, getting caught up into the drama of the revelation of the Resurrection, and the joy of Our Lord’s followers when they were once again reunited with Him. Sing the hymns, entering into the joy of Easter each day as if it were Easter Day, because that is how the Church observes the octave of a feast. Remember, because Easter is an eight-day long feast, we may eat meat on the first Friday after Easter Sunday–making it what we call around here a “Meat Friday”!
- Pray for all the souls who have newly entered the Church during the Easter Vigil. One of the great joys for the Church at Easter is all the new Catholics who will take a place beside us in the pews now that they have left their old lives behind and converted to Catholicism. Being a faithful Catholic is the most difficult thing on earth, so these souls who have begun their lives of faith and grace in the Church will benefit from your special prayers during this time!
- Observe the entire Easter Season. Keep your home altar decorated with the signs of joy for the 50 days of the Easter Season that will conclude on Pentecost Sunday, with the memorial of the coming of the Holy Ghost to the infant Church. Keep in mind the difference that the Resurrection has made to humanity, and to the followers of Christ. Much more than a righteous teacher, Christ is God, and having been glorified by God the Father through the Resurrection, He now stands at His Father’s right hand as our King and Judge.
- Celebrate the Resurrection with the Blessed Virgin. With her loving and prayerful guidance, the celebration of the Easter season will be meditative, holy, and fruitful for your soul.
The Feast of the Resurrection is not only the holiest, most important feast of the Church Year, it is also the oldest. Be sure to join the centuries of Christians who have gone before us during this Eastertide, by glorifying and praising God for conquering sin and death through Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, and beseeching Him to prepare us to join Our Risen Lord with our glorified bodies one day. After all, that’s what Easter is really about!