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Easter is a season


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Easter is a season

Commentary By Julie A. Ferraro | FāVS News

While many people – Catholics and other Christians – may be glad that Lent has ended, along with the practices of fasting and abstinence from meat, Easter is more than a one-day celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

The Easter season is, itself, a season of 40 days’ length. In some Catholic dioceses, Christ’s ascension into heaven is still celebrated on that 40th day – a Thursday. Others have moved that feast to the following Sunday. Wherever it falls on the liturgical calendar, it marks another momentous occasion, following 10 days later by Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and the Virgin Mary, and they began to preach the Good News.

Seasons, in and of themselves, allow human beings to grow accustomed to points on the calendar. For instance, when the winter just past began on Dec. 21, we anticipated snow (despite the increasingly strange weather systems due to ongoing climate change). By March 19, we were ready for spring, but the few warm days we enjoyed at the Center for Benedictine Life in Cottonwood were soon replaced by more cold weather, and the flowers that had sprouted held back their blooms.

Trying to do some time-lapse photography of a daffodil opening in the morning sunlight failed the first time; the flower simply hovered half-closed, trying to protect itself against icy winds.

The Importance of Structure for Sustaining Spiritual Growth

After a Lent of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, many find themselves reverting to their pre-Lenten practices, as if protecting themselves from a new season and a new leg of their spiritual journey. As Sister Teresa Jackson, OSB, the prioress here, has often said to those seeking wisdom from the Rule of St. Benedict, “Structures are integral to maintaining practices.”

By that, Sister Teresa means that, while we may have resolved to perform certain spiritual – or tangible – practices during Lent, such as prayer or volunteering at a homeless shelter, or even greeting newcomers to our church, unless we create a structure for those practices, we will soon fall back into our old ways of acting and our old attitudes.

As an example: setting a specific time during the day for prayer or reflection on the scriptures – called lectio divina in Benedictine circles – provides a form of discipline to enable the practice to become ingrained in our hearts, minds and souls. A structure discourages us from ignoring our own good intentions, and promotes positive progress on our journey.

Extending the Easter Spirit Through Simple Acts of Love

Those positives should continue throughout the year, and form the basis for enriching an individual’s relationship with God, and the communities in which he or she actively participates: a church community at worship on Sundays and during the week, a family unit, coworkers at a place of employment or the neighborhood where he or she resides.

The season of Easter, with the joyful “Alleluia” sung once again, will move all too quickly into another stretch of “Ordinary Time” for Catholics, but each day remains filled with opportunities to share hospitality – even smiling at others in passing while grocery shopping, or fetching a kite stuck in a tree for some children – promote peacemaking by listening respectfully to the opinions of others, despite not agreeing with their viewpoint, and living simply while keeping in mind that too many in the world today don’t have enough to eat, sufficient shelter or adequate clothes.

These suggestions might seem like “no-brainers” in the greater scheme of things, but such basic actions are the foundation for a lifetime of spiritual growth. By reaching out to others with unconditional love, using the gifts given freely by God to freely serve others and – metaphorically – raise them to new life in the realization that God loves all of us equally. Thus, we can perpetuate the season of Easter throughout the year.

The views expressed in this opinion column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FāVS News. FāVS News values diverse perspectives and thoughtful analysis on matters of faith and spirituality.

Julie A. Ferraro
Julie A. Ferrarohttps://stgertrudes.org/
Julie A. Ferraro is director of communications at the Center for Benedictine Life at the Monastery of St. Gertrude, Cottonwood, Idaho. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, she is a mother and grandmother. She has been a journalist for more than 35 years and continues her studies of both Benedictine and Franciscan spirituality.

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Walter A Hesford
Walter A Hesford
2 months ago

Thank you for this meaningful and specific advice on how to sustain Easter throughtout the year and throughout the lives of ourselves and our neighbors.

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