Holy Week is the time of year we experience in a deeper way many of the events we remember each time we pray the Holy Rosary. The Sorrowful Mysteries take us through Jesus' Passion, from the emotional torments in the Garden of Gethsemane to the physical torments culminating at Calvary.
Then, after we pass through the sorrows and sacrifices of Lent and Holy Week, Easter breaks forth as a great time of joy and celebration. It is the “Solemnity of solemnities” celebrated by the Church. This is the day our hope was made complete, the day Jesus conquered sin and death on our behalf in order to reconcile us back to God.
EASTER ISN'T A DAY - IT'S A SEASON!
For Catholics, Easter isn't just a single day of celebration—it's an entire season where we celebrate our new life in Christ. Just like Christmas, Easter is celebrated for an extended period of time—50 days to be exact!
The feast proper is celebrated for the full octave (Easter Sunday through Easter Saturday). Then we enter Eastertide, the longer Easter season which ends on Pentecost Sunday. During this fifty days of Easter we relive the joyous events of the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary—the Resurrection, Ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost.
There are many ways you can make Eastertide a very special time of year for you and your family. Here are three easy ways to make the most of the Easter season this year.
1. SPREAD THE EASTER CHEER
Get yourself in the Easter mood (and others too!) by sending out Easter cards this Eastertide. This is an easy way to remind friends that Easter is an entire season, not just a single day! You can also spread the Easter cheer by surprising your family with Catholic Easter gifts that go beyond bunnies and chocolate. Make Easter cards and gifts, no matter how small, an annual tradition to honor the holiest time of year.
You can also bring back the traditional Catholic greeting at Easter: when you greet family and friends, say, "He is Risen!" The reply greeting is, "He is risen, indeed!"
2. DECORATE THE HOUSE
Spring and the Resurrection go together! Fill your house with the lovely fragrance of freshly cut flowers. Keep a beautiful bouquet in the kitchen, on the dining room table, and in each bedroom in honor of the Resurrection of Jesus and a sign of hope in our own resurrection. Give flowers to your loved ones to grace their homes as well in honor of the Easter solemnity (they would go great with an Easter card!).
You can also decorate your home by draping white sashes on all your crosses and crucifixes, reminding your family that the joy of this season goes beyond Easter Sunday.
3. INCREASE YOUR DEVOTION
The fifty days between Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday is a great time to pray for the Holy Spirit to pour into your own life just as it did on Mary and the Apostles. The beautiful, simple prayers of the novena to the Holy Spirit are a great way to foster a devotion specifically to the Holy Spirit this Easter season.
This is also the time of year when catechumens are baptized and received as new Christians into the Church. Renew your own baptismal promises by bringing Holy Water into your home and using it regularly.
The second Sunday of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday, therefore this devotion is tied in a special way to the Easter season. There are many ways to make the Divine Mercy devotion a part of your life. In addition to the Divine Mercy feast day, there is also the Divine Mercy image that you can have blessed and hang in your home, the Divine Mercy chaplet which you can pray daily (it only takes 5 minutes!), and the Diary of Faustina Kowalska (the visionary who brought this great devotion to the world), which you can read during Eastertide. Learn more about the Divine Mercy devotion here.
With these simple ideas hopefully you can enjoy your fifty days of Eastertide in a new and special way this year with your friends and family. What would you add to this list? Please share any other ideas on how to squeeze as much joy as possible out of this glorious season!
This article has been updated and was originally published in April 2012. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.