For 40 days, during Lent, Christians are encouraged to prepare for Easter. Individuals fast, or abstain in some way, they may go to extra worship and give money to charity. Churches put on extra worship or discussion groups, and usually abstain from having big social events in Lent.
Then Easter comes, and the 40 days of lent give way to the 50 days of Eastertide. But how does the church, and the individual, mark this great season? Well, liturgically quite clearly – festal vestments, lots of Alleluias, the Easter Candle burns for worship etc. But what about extra events for Eastertide or encouragement for individuals to observe it in a special way?
Sometimes it appears that we give more attention to the disciplines of the season of preparation than to the feast and season we are preparing for.
Two small events struck me from our Easter liturgies this year.
At the end of the Easter Vigil a Romanian father asked if he could light a candle from the Easter candle and take the lit candle home. He did, and carefully took the lit candle away with him. I hope he got home with the candle still lit. This struck me as a lovely sign of taking the light of Easter out of church into our homes, and I am sure this could be developed in some way, perhaps by having a ‘mini’ Easter candle ceremony in homes, and other appropriate places.
The second event was on Easter Day in the evening. After Vespers and Benediction we gathered, as is our custom, around Our Lady’s for the Maria Consolata devotion. This is a simple devotion, flowers are distributed and candles lit and we sing the Regina Coeli. Afterwards some left their flowers (this year we had a rose each) at the statue, others took theirs home or to a friend or relative. Here again a simple act of consolation or love at Easter took the celebration out in a small but personal and practical way.
How would you suggest we mark the 50 days, at Church, at home or individually? Comments welcome!