Easter is so great a Feast, and its meaning so wondrous, that the Church asks us not simply to celebrate it, but also to live it for a season. As if one Sunday were not enough, we first celebrate a “perfect” week of Sundays, during this, the Easter week. And then take that perfect number seven itself a perfect number of times, and one gets the length of the season, which stretches to “Pentecost”—Greek for “Fifty” (the number one gets by counting forty-nine inclusively, in the ancient manner).
Perhaps Lent seemed long to you. But I suspect sorrow and contrition come easier to most of us than joy and hope. How will you succeed in living a Christian Easter without fail until May 20th? A simple resolution: find other Christians who will agree to exchange with you each day the ancient response, “Christ is risen!” –“He is risen indeed!” Or make Mary herself your partner in this exercise, by saying or singing the Regina caeli at noon.
We can gain insight into the season, to help us live it better, by contrasting it with Christmas, also a season. The Incarnation and the Passion are the two great events in the history of humankind. Both come together in the sacrifice of the Mass: the one mystery really presented in the transubstantiated elements, the other in the separation of the flesh and blood. And yet the feasts and the seasons are very different.
Christmas is, as it were, a feast of the world. Whereas Easter, for all the public pomp of Easter morning liturgies, and beauty of Easter dress, is a feast of the Church. The world loves to celebrate a Christmas season: it simply gets the dates wrong. It celebrates the season a few weeks too early. Even without the gift-giving, so obviously attractive for the world’s commerce, and still everyone appreciates carols sung to an infant king in his crib, or the promise of reconciliation between God and man.
But there is no Easter season for the world. It’s as if the world, in northern countries at least, senses that it has Spring, and therefore needs no holiday with a supernatural provenance. The correct effort of Christendom to claim pagan symbols of Spring for Christianity has generally been a failure. We see in our day that the world has already moved on to Masters Week, and opening days at ballparks. It is already looking forward to cookouts on Memorial Day.
Read more at The Catholic Thing.