In the Catholic tradition, it is Tuesday in the Octave of Easter. An octave lasts for eight days. The Easter Octave is between Easter Sunday and Divine Mercy Sunday. (We also have a Christmas Octave.) For Easter, it is as if each day this week is Resurrection Sunday! If you read the daily Gospel readings, all of them are related to the various accounts of the Risen Lord.
Likewise, in the Catholic faith, we live life in seasons, much like we live according to the natural seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter. In the liturgical calendar, we have the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time. So often, we complain that Lent is so long, lasting 40 days and nights. But the Easter season is even longer, lasting 50 days!
Yes, 50 days can seem like a long time to celebrate something. We may even lose steam after a week or two. But I think it is quite beautiful that we have so long to contemplate the Resurrection, what it means in Salvation History, and what it means to us today. Don’t you?
Of course, we do not have to keep the Easter party going for 50 straight days; that could get daunting. But if we sprinkle a few key celebratory moments into our routine, then we can maintain an Easter spirit between now and Pentecost Sunday (which is May 31, this year). And perhaps truly celebrating the Easter season will allow our faith to become an even more intricate part of our everyday life—well into Ordinary Time and beyond.
Here are 7 simple ways to celebrate the Easter season
1. Take an Emmaus walk.
One of the Resurrection accounts takes place on a road. Found in the Gospel of Luke 24:13-35, two disciples encounter Jesus while walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. At first, the disciples do not recognize Jesus, but He walks with them and explains the Scriptures to them. Finally, they recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
On a nice spring day, take a walk on a favorite path or find a new hiking trail to explore. At some point, take a break, enjoy a simple snack, read the Emmaus reading, and journal your responses to these questions:
What would you talk to Jesus about if He joined you on your walk? Ponder the times in your life when you did not recognize Jesus’ presence in your life as well as those moments when He is more recognizable to you.
2. Celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.
The second Sunday of Easter is also considered Divine Mercy Sunday. Set up a special prayer space with an image of the Divine Mercy, a candle, and anything else that reminds you of Jesus’ merciful love. Close to the three o-clock hour, the traditional hour of Divine Mercy, pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. If you are living with family members or roommates, invite them to join you. If you live alone, consider inviting someone to pray with you over FaceTime. Invite each person to share an experience of God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness.
3. Listen to uplifting music.
There is plenty of bad news and negative media flooding the airways lately. So, instead of filling your mind and heart with things that will surely get you down, listen, instead, to uplifting music! One beautiful collection of traditional Easter hymns is Easter at Ephesus by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. More uplifting music will be coming your way, via email, later this week!
4. Create something new.
Jesus’ Resurrection redeems and restores all of creation. At the dawn of that first Easter morning, a new light shone on all of creation—the light of the Resurrection! Yes, indeed, He makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). That is why Easter is the perfect season to bring out your yarn, watercolor paints, scrapbooking supplies, colored pencils, or any other hobby materials you may have. Perhaps it’s been awhile, but this season of new life and restored hope is the perfect time for you to create something new, too!
5. Share the good news.
Since most of us are at home a lot more and separated from loved ones, why not mail some Easter cards to family and friends? Share the hope of Christ’s Resurrection by including a favorite Bible verse.
6. Honor one (or two) of God’s saints.
There are some incredible saints who are honored in the Church this spring. A few of them are St. George (April 23), St. Mark (April 25), and St. Catherine of Siena (April 29).
Honoring the feast days of the saints is so simple, by adding a holy card of that saint to your prayer space (or another prominent place in your home). Other ideas include live-streaming the Mass, reading a short account of the saint’s life, and asking the saint for his or her intercession for a particular prayer request—just like you would ask a friend to pray for you.
7. Set up a Mary altar.
This year, the entire month of May is within the Easter season! May is also dedicated to the Blessed Mother. Set up an extra-special space in your home to honor Our Lady. A Mary altar doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be simple but beautiful atop a fireplace mantle or bookshelf. If you don’t have a statue of Mary, a framed holy card, Rosary, and candles can adorn your altar. Get the children involved by asking them to make little bouquets of flowers for the Blessed Mother.
St. Augustine of Hippo said that “we are an Easter people and ‘Alleluia’ is our song!” And because of this, the Church gives us 50 days to meditate on and celebrate the hope Jesus’ Resurrection gives us. May we enjoy this season to the fullest!
Your turn: How do you celebrate the Easter season? Do you have traditions or special customs? Please share them in the comments below.
This is part of a weeklong email series Encountering the Light of the Risen Christ. To receive this series in your inbox, click here.