Easter: A 50 Day Season
Easter is a 50 day “season” in the Catholic Church. We need
this extended period of time to receive the revelation of Jesus’ resurrection.
We also need this time to allow God to work in us. While God works in us
always, this is an intensive time of grace. The Season will culminate in Pentecost on Sunday, June 9th.
This season of 50 days co-incides with “mystagogia.” This
time is special for those who have been baptized and received into the Church
at the Easter Vigil. Mystagogia is the 50 day time of further catechesis and
learning what it means to be Catholic and a disciple of Jesus Christ. As in Lent,
we journey with these candidates, now the elect, on their journey of faith.
During the Easter season we celebrate in an intense way, the
Octave (8 days) of Jesus’ resurrection. Each day is a solemnity culminating on
Mercy Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter. During the Easter season we read from
the Acts of the Apostles. Composed by the Gospel writer and doctor, St. Luke,
this book gives us an inside look at the early Church and how God worked in
them and through them. Jesus’ resurrection changed them personally and enabled
them to face their fears and courageously “turn the world upside down” with the
message of salvation. God worked with this small group of people to revolutionize
the known world then and even to our day!
We all need these 50 days to allow God to recreate our
thought life, imaginations, moral life, creativity/passion as well as our
emotions and relationships. We are all a work in progress and God is in the
midst of raising us up in every dimension of our life. Resurrection happens
when we face our fears bravely. Instead of being negative, we believe for the
best and live optimistically. Rather than participating in the self-sabotage of
the past. We live the risen life when we reach out to others and energetically
give ourselves to dreaming dreams and living with Passion!
I celebrated a Sunrise Easter Mass on the beach in Florida
for the third year in a row. I was one of 3000 people present.
When I arrived
at 5:55 am, it was still dark but a faint glow was just beginning over the Atlantic
Ocean. As people were gathering I stood in silent prayer. It was a transcendent
moment. I could sense God in the peacefulness. Mass began promptly at 6:30 am,
before the sunrise. We sang, listened to God’s word and worshiped in faith. I
looked out over the ocean, a scene I know so well, and the ocean looked
different. It wasn’t familiar. It was like a place I had never been before…another
transcendent moment. We sang the song “Morning has broken” as the Sun burst
over the horizon.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I grasped that this moment was
like the original moment of creation. Even though eons have passed, it was
fresh and brand new, to be enjoyed. Several times during the Mass I experienced
a loss of self. What we were celebrating was beyond me and the self I had come
to know so well. I was alive, awake and aware without the baggage of self. The
word “ecstasy” means to be “beside one’s self.” It was Easter morning. Special.
There were many distractions. Babies crying. Friends to be
attended to. People shuffling around. Planes flying overhead that broke the
mood. There were many ups and downs, peaks and valleys to that Mass. We celebrated
the truth of Jesus’ victory over death and our worship was profound.
The Easter season is like that Mass. There will be many ups
and downs. Moments of peace and transcendence. A sense of God’s grace and
working. Going beyond self and allowing grace to transform. Most of the season
is filled with the downs of distractions and the real stuff of life. Embrace all
the ups and downs. Being human is a roller coaster ride of peaks and valleys.
Stay faithful along the journey and peaks will come!
We all want the appearances and visitations from the Holy
Spirit during this season. The “suddenlies” that God offers will come in
various ways. There are insights, inspirations and moments of peace. Suddenly
the word makes sense. You become aware of personal change and God working in
you. Some of these touches from God will be dramatic and some not so dramatic.
The great cry of the early disciples is “We have seen the
Lord!” Yes, indeed, Jesus is Risen! Death has been conquered and we have a
living Hope! However, Jesus taught, “Blessed are they who believe without seeing…”
As sure as the Sunrise, Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead! This is our true and sure faith. May you be renewed and recreated in this Easter season. May
your faith in God increase and I pray you will experience transcendent moments
in the journey. A blessed Easter Season of 50 days to you all! Sincerely, Fr.