Have you ever noticed that Lent is 40 days long, but Easter season is 50 days long? It seems easier for us to see the importance of the season of Lent, a time of preparation for Easter through penitential acts of prayer, penance, and almsgiving. The season of Lent resonates with us, we tend to get into Lent with our Lenten resolutions: giving something up for Lent, doing something special, going to Confession, participating in the Stations of the Cross and/or Lenten parish missions. What about Easter? It seems that we don’t quite know how to truly enter into the 50 days of the Season of Easter. Not unlike Christmas, Easter seems to come and go from our thoughts and minds in a matter of days, and we return to our normal life. I wonder why that is? After all, the Church offers 50 days of the Season of Easter, indicating that we should take the time and savour the graces of this joyful time of Christ’s victory over death. Why don’t we?
I wonder if part of our difficulty with remaining in the joyful season of Easter is connected to our broken human nature. Is it not true that negative or dark experiences of our life tend to linger with us much longer than the joy filled experiences? When someone hurts us we tend to remember, whereas when someone is kind to us, we tend to forget. It is so much easier to notice the negative than the positive, to criticize rather than complement, to wound someone rather than to heal. In the spiritual life we also experience this attraction towards darkness rather than light. Our life’s desolations tend to be more pronounced and more lasting for us than our consolations. Why is that?
I believe that this is just part of our concupiscence, the remnants of our sin which leaves such deep marks on our souls. The remedy to this fallen condition offered by the Church is to invite us to spend prolonged periods in reflecting on the positives rather than negatives. Just notice the prayers that the Church offers on our behalf and with our assistance each day. At Mass the priest recalls countless blessings that God offers to us, thanking God for his love and generosity, calling upon God to renew us in remembering the good that happened in the past and anticipating the good that will happen in the future. If we just take the time to notice the positive and hopeful message of the prayers at Mass, we will be lifted up in gratitude and thanksgiving. By offering us the long season of Easter, 50 days long, the Church also tells us that more time should be spent in reflecting on the victory of God in Resurrection than in the penitential acts of remembering our sins in Lent (40 days). We must strive hard for positivity, because it is harder for us to stay with the positivity of the resurrection, such is our fallen nature. But we must push ourselves to do it, and not to move too quickly past the glory of God’s new life offered to us in the Easter message. Have you ever noticed that it is more common for people to pray to God when they are in suffering than when they are in happiness? It is so tempting to make our relationship with God only about getting us out of trouble, and once we are fine to forget to thank Him.
Here is a suggestion: take more time thanking God than asking God for stuff. Spend more, or at least the same amount of time praying to God when things are going well as when things are difficult. Don’t make the mistake of failing to recognize Jesus in His resurrection as the disciples did, but go out of your way to see His glory each day. And above all, stay positive, see the good, and share your joy. He has truly risen!
Fr. Wojtek Kuzma