What are the ways we can live the Easter season more joyfully, intentionally?
My Vocation Is Love l Lindsey Weishar
Happy Easter! What a joy it is to be able to say this until Pentecost. We had 40 days of fasting and now we are in the midst of 50 days of feasting. What a gift!
Though I delight in the fact that there is ample time to soak in Easter, on a practical note, I sometimes wonder what I should be doing during this season. After all, Lent has its pillars: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Where Lent brings with it a degree of somberness, Easter brings joy, and yet, I would guess that steeped as we are in the sorrows of our culture and world, joy is something we are less practiced in. So, how do we live the Easter season more joyfully, more intentionally? Below are a few ways:
PRAYING THE VIA LUCIS AND REGINA CAELI
One of the more ancient prayers of our faith is the Regina Caeli prayer, which is prayed during the Easter season. The prayer can be sung in Latin or said in English. The words are as follows:
Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia. / The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia, / has risen as he said, alleluia. / Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia! / For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
I remember saying this prayer at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center before the 12:05 p.m. Mass in place of the Angelus during the Easter season. The repetition of “alleluia” is a needed reminder to keep rejoicing in the fact that our Lord is risen.
The Via Lucis, also called The Way of Light or the Stations of the Resurrection, is a relatively new prayer tradition, originating in the Salesian family in the late 1980s. Similar to the Stations of the Cross in their movement through 14 stations, the Stations of the Resurrection reflect on various aspects of Jesus’ post-resurrection life, like appearing to the disciples on the way to Emmaus and helping Thomas grow in faith.
Heath Morber, director of music at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center in Champaign, organized neighboring St. Matthew Parish’s first Via Lucis for the Friday of Easter Week. Noting that he came across this devotion while researching Easter practices for his children’s book series, “Catholic Kid 365” (another lovely Easter and liturgical year resource), Morber wanted to bring this prayer to life in his parish. He invited friend Jenny Lugardo to write devotions for each station and musician Lewis McAdow to write the hymn verses. Lugardo even found images of the Via Lucis from an artist in Pietrelcina, Italy, to help guide the prayers. Morber’s hope is that this tradition will grow, and eventually even be said during all seven weeks of Easter across the vicariate.
FEASTING ON HOPE
A friend recently shared with me a chapter called “Practice during Paschal Time” from a 1908 book called “The Liturgical Year” by Abbot Guéranger, OSB. I was personally struck by the call to return to the Scriptures during the Easter season:
“These sweet and consoling words must be our Easter text: ‘The children of the Bridegroom cannot mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with us.’ They are the key to the whole Liturgy of this holy Season . . . what He wants from us now, is that we should keep near Him, in company with His blessed Mother, His disciples, and Magdalene, who are in ecstasies of delight at His triumph. . . .”
The daily readings take us through various moments in which Jesus appeared to his disciples, how mystery broke open into joy at the moment of recognition. Easter, then, is a call to remember the glory of Jesus’ resurrection, in the life of his followers, and in our own lives.
In a similar vein, Pope Francis’ 2023 Easter Vigil homily encourages us to recall the memory of our first encounter with Christ, and, in doing so, to rediscover our joy:
“The Pasch of the Lord takes us back to the grace of our own past; it brings us back to Galilee, where our love story with Jesus began, where the first call took place. In other words, it asks us to relive that moment, that situation, that experience in which we met the Lord, experienced his love and received a radiantly new way of seeing ourselves, the world around us and the mystery of life itself. . . . Yes, to go forward we need to go back, to remember; to have hope, we need to revive our memory. This is what we are asked to do: to remember and go forward! If you recover that first love, the wonder and joy of your encounter with God, you will keep advancing.”
To reenter the sweetness of our “first love,” we may want to carve out extra time to be with him. If this memory is blurry or obscured by current sorrow, spending time before the Lord in adoration or slowly moving through one of the Gospel resurrection narratives may help reawaken remembrance of past and present ways the Lord has loved you.
May this Easter season be one of reencountering joy. Though this season may also correspond with increased busyness or personal sorrow, my prayer is that, as the hymn goes, you may “ponder anew what the Almighty can do” in your life and in the world.
LINDSEY WEISHAR is a poet, freelance writer, and native of Champaign who has a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is executive assistant to the president of Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.