Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

 

Lent

Lent is over and Easter is finally here!  I don’t know about you, but Lent can often seem like a long time.  The fasting, the giving up things, taking up additional spiritual disciplines, penance, everything –  it can be a lot.  Don’t get me wrong, Lent is important, and all those Lenten disciplines are actually very rewarding.  But, they can be tiring as well.

It’s funny, but almost everyone  (Catholic or not) knows about the Lenten fasting.  Typically people focus on the giving up of material things, like coffee, snacks, etc., and forget about all the spiritual things that Catholics do during Lent.  The deeper and more intense prayer life, the giving to the poor, receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation.  But, even if they know about that, there is one thing related to Lent that, in my experience, is often unknown.  And that’s Easter.

 

Easter

It’s strange, but it’s true.  What I mean is that everyone knows that Lent is 40 days.  But what a lot of people don’t realise is that Easter lasts for 50 days!  It extends from Easter Sunday until Pentecost.  It’s a season of joy, celebration, reflection, and thanksgiving.

Easter is so important that it cannot be contained in a single day.  Jesus rose from the dead!  That is the central truth of our faith.  Death is not the end for Him, and it’s not the end for you and I.  He is risen and has gone on ahead for us.  As He himself said, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).   Personally, I feel like I’ve heard this message so much that it almost has lost meaning.  But, when I stop to think about it, it is truly amazing and humbling and uplifting.  It is joyful in every sense of the word.

 

The Journey

The journey of Lent to Easter is really profound.  Lent is a time of prayer and fasting.  It’s a time of penance and preparation.  I think one of the most important things about Lent is asking myself why am I doing this.  Why am I fasting?  Why am I trying to prayer more?  Why am I going to Reconciliation?  What is the purpose of this season?

There are a few answers to these questions, all of which are important.  But one answer that resonates with me is that Lent prepares for Easter.  I fast and pray and repent in order to begin to understand Easter.  The fasting helps me to turn from myself towards God.  The prayer draws me closer to Him.  The repentance lets me recognize my sins and appreciate God’s love for me.

 

The Joy

After what feels like a long time, we reach the Triduum: a single service split over three days.  Each of those days gives a bit of different experience.  On Holy Thursday there is the experience of Christ’s gift to us and how He chooses to serve us out of love.  The Good Friday experience is one of pain and suffering and true love.  Recognizing my part in the crucifixion and seeing how Jesus took that pain out of love for me.  Finally the Easter Vigil is hope, joy, and glory.  After the despair of death, Christ rises again.  In the midst of pain, when everything seems lost, God fulfils His promises to us.   When I start to appreciate how amazing this is, honestly, it makes me so happy and joyful that I can’t help but grin like an idiot.  It’s the sort of joy that makes me want to sing and dance and shout (which, if you know me, is rather odd).  It makes me feel lighter and taller and better in every way.  Everything seems more clear and full of wonder!  And that feeling doesn’t end when the Vigil is over.

In the Catholic Church, the season of Easter lasts 50 days for precisely that reason.  The Resurrection is too big to be contained in one day.  The joy and celebration of Easter is too big for a weekend.  We spend the 40 days of Lent getting ready for 50 days of Easter!  50 days of joy and reflection on the most important event in all of history.  50 days to think about how I experience the Resurrection, about what it means to me.  To ask whether I am beginning to get a glimpse of the amazing love and power in that moment.  Whether I am starting to experience the joy that God wants us all to have.

At the end of Lent I’ve often been asked whether I had a good Lent by other Catholics.  They want to know whether the various things I’ve given up during Lent brought me closer to God in some way.  It’s a good question.  But maybe the better question is ‘Did I have a good Easter?’  Did I experience the Resurrection in my life?  Did my Lenten journey prepare me to enter into the celebration of Easter more fully?  Have I reflected the joy of Easter to all I meet?  Make no mistake,  Easter is the central truth of our faith.  Jesus Christ rose from the dead!  That is what the Catholic church is built on.  It is built on joy and life and love.  The 50 days of Easter are a celebration of those cornerstones.  I pray that you all experience that joy throughout the season.  Have a good Easter.

 

He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!


About the Author:                                                                                                                                                                            Version 2

Nathan Deg

I am an astrophysicist working as a post-doctoral fellow at UCT. I obtained my Ph.D. in 2014, and am currently studying barred spiral galaxies, stellar streams, and the Milky Way. I enjoy way too many video games, books, movies, and tv shows and have a deep and abiding love for real (ice) hockey.