Lent is over. Now what?

How to avoid treating Lent as just one big detox program

Easter procession at St. Mary’s Assyrian Chaldean Catholic Church in Campbell, California (photo from www.kaldaya.net)

Once the Easter Triduum is over and Catholics cast off their Lenten penances, what comes next? Was Lent just one big detox program, and is the Easter Season a marathon of steak dinners, chocolate eggs, Netflix binges and bigger bar tabs, while practices of daily Mass and prayer are neglected?

Not so, said liturgical experts, who stressed that Catholics can both celebrate Easter and also grow in their spiritual life.

How do we do that? First, Catholics must remember the spiritual focus of the season, which is on Christ’s Resurrection and the evangelization that immediately follows from it, Fr. Chrysostom Baer of the Norbertines of St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange County, Calif., told CNA.

“The apostles were trying to convert the world because Jesus rose from the dead. And they really got the impulse to go at Pentecost, but the message is ‘Jesus died and rose’,” he said.

This evangelization was powered by a type of “evangelical poverty,” he said, pointing to the Acts of the Apostles: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.”

While Easter is not a time for hairshirts and fasting, he clarified, Catholics shouldn’t feel like they must abandon good Lenten practices during Easter, if those practices help them be better Catholics – especially if they gave up things that were occasions of sin for them.

“I would think the first best way to celebrate the season is to go to daily Mass. That is bar none, the best,” Fr. Chrysostom said. “Because it really puts you in the mind of the Church, with regard to the season. The prayers change every day, but they’re all focused on the Resurrection.”

Catholics should also continue any good practices they fostered during Lent like prayer or almsgiving, he insisted, and should give attention to virtues they cultivated from Lenten penance.

However, Easter shouldn’t just be lived at church, but “it’s got to live out in our everyday lives,” Fr. Hezekias told CNA. There must be a “more intense realization that every aspect of my life has come into communion with God.”

“What about reading the Gospel in our homes or singing the Gospel in our homes before we bless the food at the dinner of that Sunday?” he suggested.

Another way to do this is for Catholics throw a party, he said, which we can enjoy in a new way having first fasted during Lent.

And Catholics should party together.

“I think what makes a feast really a feast is that it’s shared, with friends,” Fr. Chrysostom said, and where drinks served “heightens the conviviality and the joy.”

“Everyone should be asking themselves right now, who should I invite to my home [during the Easter Season]?” Fr. Hezekias said. They should also consider inviting the newly baptized at their parish over to their homes.

“We’ve forgotten our ability as Christians to go out and really have a party,” he said. “Our society is starving because of that. We’re the ones who are supposed to be showing everyone else what true joy is, but unfortunately we’ve forgotten it ourselves.”

“We’ve got to re-discover that for the sake of society.”

Full story at Catholic News Agency.

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  1. Linda Maria says:

    Penances are supposed to be offered up to God, in reparation for sins, in the hopes that God will bestow upon us many graces, to be more Christ-like, in virtue and love! Many years ago, nuns would say, that most sins are related to the flesh, and if we offer up some mortifications of the the flesh to God, it will help to remove sin, and to receive God’s beautiful graces, to become more Christ-like! The Seven Deadly Sins– Pride, Covetousnous, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth, must be be replaced in us, by the Seven Christian Virtues of Humility, Generosiity, Chastity, Gentleness, Temperance, Brotherly Love, and Diligence!!

    • Linda Maria says:

      For centuries, it has also been a tradition, for monks and contemplative nuns, who receive prayer requests from people suffering from particular defects of character, to offer up prayers and penances, in the hopes of obtaining from God, the virtues requested, for that person. We can also, as Catholic laymen, offer up penances as well as prayers, for people we know of, who suffer from particular defects of character, and ask God to remove that person’s sin. A popular devotion is to pray and make acts of reparation for the sins of those who believe in and commit abortion!

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