I'll admit, the Easter excitement has definitely started to wear off. There's a gallon-sized baggie of malt eggs staring at me and a house that needs cleaning after a week of neglect. But Easter is not a one-day celebration. Easter is a church season; fifty days of celebrating the greatest triumph and mystery of our faith: the Resurrection. And because of it that, it deserves to be celebrated for much longer than just one day.
How can we celebrate Easter for fifty days? Or at least the next seven Sundays?
By really focusing on and participating in the Mass, which is, at its core, in honor of Christ. Every Mass is a mini-Easter. That's why Sundays are not part of the Lenten season. But the next seven Sundays are particularly special and we can honor that by celebrating each Mass with a devout and earnest heart.
A heartfelt Mass. A joyful Mass. A worshipful Mass.
Many of us already succeed in attending Mass each Sunday physically, but challenge to you (and myself) for the Easter season is to make each Mass truly worshipful and heartfelt. Really invest yourself into the Mass. Strive to walk out the sanctuary each Sunday feeling refreshed and ready to share God's love with those around you during the coming week.
Happy Easter, dear friends in Christ.
I’m currently sitting here at Denny’s, one in the morning, listening to “Work” by Rihanna, laughing at the irony, and all I can think about is this never ending list of to-do’s that need to be checked off before Christmas. Buy Christmas gifts for the whole family, because Lord knows I haven’t started that madness yet. Finish the never-ending pile of paperwork that seems to be flooding my desk. Maybe do the 3 loads of laundry that are begging for my attention in the corner of the bathroom. Actually go to the gym. Oh, and in the meantime prepare my heart for Jesus’ birthday with a joyful spirit. Excuse me while crawl under the table and start laugh-crying like the sleep deprived, overly caffeinated human being that I am.
Let’s take a second to step back from the Hot Mess Express. If Jesus were enjoying this upteenth cup of coffee with me here in the Denny’s booth, I have a feeling he would remind me of the wise words of Saint Pope John Paul II (because in my mind they’re best friends), “God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us.”
Let’s hit the part that is obvious, “God is joy.” Apologies for my bluntness but...DUH! Everything that is around us in a small way points to the greatness of God; nature, the people around us, the mass, the list goes on. The Eucharistic prayer reminds us every time we celebrate saying, “Through Christ our Lord, through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.” How can literally every good thing come from someone, and not be the total embodiment of joy? Surpassing happy, wonderful, great, warm-fuzzies, and all those other adjectives. I’m talking about the overwhelmingly intense feeling of joy. The type of feeling that consumes every part of who you are. That makes you feel as if you are busting at the seams. The feeling where your heart starts to fan-girl scream like a fourteen year old at a One Direction concert.
Which brings me to the snippet, “God made us for joy.” Alright now, stay with me here, as I tend to get a little more than excited when talking about Jesus and JPII, and this caffeine is now kicking into high gear. Ever wonder why joy, while being such an intense emotion, feels so natural? But then feeling other intense emotions like anxiety and stress don’t? Boom...here’s your answer. God created our hearts and souls to be joyful. I mean, of course we have to have the happy with the crappy sometime, we are reminded in James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Even in the midst of crappy moments there is joy. When you are up at Denny’s getting work done and stressed out of your mind...count it joy because you’re getting to put the talents Christ gave you to get that work finished. When we struggle with sin...count it joy because all great saints were once great sinners.
Ultimately, Christ calls us all to joy. Offering us the mass, celebrating Him in the Eucharist, and reconciliation. Sacraments that cleanse our hearts and direct our eyes to Him, the One who embodies and emulates pure joy, so that we may have a feeling of the ultimate joy He offers in heaven. He provides us these things to fully cater to the hearts that He made. You know, those hearts made for joy?
Recap: God designed us in His image. If He is joy, then we must be made in joy. This great feeling, we were designed for it. Mind. Blown. So, while it may seem distant at times when you’re stressed and anxious looking at the giant to-do lists kind of crying into your Denny’s coffee, know that it is there. Seek that joy through prayer, reconciliation, the Eucharist, good friends and family, the rosary. While you are seeking joy in this crazy time of preparation, know that I am praying for you.
See you on the other side of sainthood!