Last year, many of us had a new experience when we were faced with celebrating Easter Sunday in the midst of a pandemic. On this most important day of the year, when churches are ordinarily overflowing with crowds, we suddenly found ourselves unable to attend Easter Mass, belt out the alleluias and receive the Eucharist.
Of course, when we began Lent, we had no idea that we’d be locked out of the church on Easter Day. I’d even purchased my children’s Easter clothes in February, in anticipation of a joyous Easter Sunday!
Another year has passed, and we find ourselves celebrating yet another Easter Sunday in the midst of a pandemic. It has been a hard year, and many of us entered this Lent feeling as though the last one never ended.
Despite this, Easter has come again! And this time, we have more time to prepare ourselves mentally for the idea of celebrating Easter during pandemic circumstances. Many of us feel safe attending Easter Mass this year, and we can also make the day special in other ways.
We Catholics have an added bonus, in that we celebrate an octave — eight days — of Easter, in which every single day is a solemnity, the highest feast of the church. And, even beyond that, we celebrate a whole Easter season: 50 days in contrast to the 40 days of Lent!
After our second pandemic Lent, we should make the most of Easter that we can. There are many familiar ways of celebrating Easter that we can still do. Remember I said I’d purchased Easter clothes early last year? Returning them was a hassle when we were trying to avoid stores. Instead, we dressed up for Easter, even though we weren’t going anywhere!
Dressing for the day helped it to feel like Easter. And Easter baskets for the kids seemed a helpful way of breaking up the quarantine monotony. Last year, we included the usual chocolate eggs but also a small toy for each child, as well as surprising them with a new piece of backyard equipment.
A delicious Easter dinner feast and a nice Easter brunch are important ways to mark the day as well. In our house, each family member can choose a food item that they will get to enjoy on Easter Day, from cinnamon rolls at breakfast to soda at dinner!
For that big Easter meal, it’s great to put on a tablecloth and some flowers to make it look fancy, even if you aren’t able to have extended family together for dinner. Also, since Easter lasts for an octave of solemnities, at our house we keep the delicious desserts going for eight days!
This year, we should probably deem it best to skip indoor gatherings packed with extended family. Sometimes we are blessed to have Easter coincide with beautiful spring weather that invites us outside. In this case, gathering with friends or family for an outdoor Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday is an option.
Family picnics or nature hikes are also a great way to enjoy the Easter season. And, especially if the weather is gloomy, we can do our best to lighten up our home by keeping fresh flowers or an Easter lily in our home throughout the Easter season.
One important psalm repeated often during Easter is, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!”While many of us won’t be able to have singing at Mass this Easter, this one-line prayer is something we should keep in our heart and on our lips throughout Easter Sunday and the whole season of Easter. Especially during difficult times, we should do our best to rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection and help our families to do the same.
By Maria C. Morrow, Catholic News Service
Maria Morrow earned her doctorate in theology from the University of Dayton and is the author of “Sin in the Sixties: Catholics and Confession, 1955-1975.”