Every Easter there’s drama at my house: When, oh when, will we finally have that Easter Egg hunt? My poor children have heard the dreaded words too often to count: “It’s not Pentecost yet, kids, we still have time!”
Way back during Lent when everyone — even some Catholic parishes — were having their egg hunts, I’d raise a skeptical eyebrow. Hunting for Lent Eggs, are we?
I try not be insufferable about it. If this or that friend desperately wants my child to go hunt eggs mid-Lent, I don’t throw a temper-tantrum. I’ll suspend disbelief if it’s so very important to you. But even my children now know that it’s just plain weird to hunt eggs on Good Friday.
“Why is St. Chocolate’s* Parish holding an egg hunt during Lent?” my daughter asked this year. “Don’t they know that a lot of Catholic kids give up candy for Lent?”
We’re Catholic, and that means that as this post goes to press, we’re still Mid-Easter. Sure, we do penance for forty days; but we celebrate Easter for fifty. Are you still celebrating?
Why Worry about Liturgical Correctness?
The point isn’t to show what a jerk you are, that’s for sure. We caroled at the nursing home during Advent, turned up at the neighbor’s early-December Christmas party, and I’d never say anything but a heart-felt “Thank you!” to a friend who delivered the Easter candy a month early. And even though it appeals to my frugal side, the goal isn’t to get the best price on clearance candy canes and chocolate bunnies, either.
The goal is to align our body, heart, mind, and soul.
During a season of preparation, we prepare. During a season of penance, we repent. During a season of feasting, we feast.
Humans are created to live in time. We grow and change and work out our salvation minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Part of that living-in-time experience is the reality that humans are cyclical. We are awake so many hours, and then asleep so many hours: Try to be neither awake nor asleep, and you turn into a useless zombie headed for an early death. Our brains, our stomachs, our fertility — cycles are everywhere.
So it is with our souls. Some of us have relatively more capacity for penance or contemplation, but all of us have a need to cycle through the liturgical year. (Our days and weeks have a liturgical cycle to them, too.) If we try to live in a perpetual state of 20% contrition, 30% exultation, and 40% nose to the spiritual grindstone, we’ll turn into spiritual zombies. It doesn’t work. It’s like making a smoothie out of appetizer, dinner, and dessert: Yuck.
If you’re off-kilter spiritually, get yourself back on track by making your physical life match the liturgical year. Put some flowers on the table. Get a nice coffee cake to serve with breakfast this Sunday. Put on the bunny ears if it helps you. If you aren’t already doing so, consider lining up your prayer life with the liturgical year by reading the daily Mass readings, or following along with one of the hours of the divine office.
This isn’t just good for you, it’s good for evangelization. When we observe the liturgical seasons with our children, they learn about the rhythms of the spiritual life. Sure, it wasn’t easy giving up your favorite TV show for six weeks, but look — jelly beans in May!
When we do our best to stick to our liturgical guns, even though the neighbors are whispering about our Epiphany Lights, or wondering why we still have the “Happy Easter” banner on the mailbox in early June, we create an easy avenue for evangelization. Why do you do that? Well, funny you should ask . . .
*Name changed to protect the guilty. I’m pretty sure there is no St. Chocolate. Sorry.
Copyright 2014, Jennifer Fitz