May is usually a month crammed with celebrations on our calendars. We rush between graduations, first Communions, confirmations, showers for summer weddings or babies, Mother’s Day brunches and Memorial Day barbecues.
But now we find ourselves facing a very different spring and summer. Staying at home and staying apart are taking their toll on our society and our spirits.
For many of us, being apart from our parish communities is particularly painful. How can we continue to celebrate Easter when we can’t receive the sacraments?
Here are ideas for living out the 50 days of the Easter season with your family. Even as we long to come back together in church, let us remember how God delights to surprise us in Easter by showing up where we least expect it.
• Get up early and watch the sunrise. Then cook breakfast together and read the story of Jesus serving a morning meal for his friends on the beach (Jn 21).
• Visit a park and notice signs of spring: flowers in bloom and fresh green trees. Give thanks to God for the beauty of nature and the resilience of creation.
• Light a white candle on your dinner table. Pray in a special way for your parish with whom you usually gather around the altar: your pastors, parish staff, musicians and all the parishioners.
• Talk a walk with your family, as many of us are doing these days. Before you go, read the story of the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35). When you get home, read the Gospel again and reflect on the disciples’ discovery together.
• Sing Alleluias. Add extras to your grace before meals. Listen to sacred music during work or home schooling. Put on praise and worship songs after Sunday breakfast as you’re preparing to pray with an online Mass.
• Do spring cleaning with others in mind. What could you give to those in need, especially now that so many are suffering? Read Acts 2:43-47 to remember how the early Christians shared with each other so that no one was in need.
• Plant a small garden together. Read the parable of the sower and the seed (Mt 13). Remember how seedlings are a sign of hope and seeds are a world waiting to happen, a promise held in our hands.
• Bake bread together. Flour and yeast are finally coming back to grocery shelves, as more people are baking than ever before. Take advantage of time at home to watch the ordinary miracle of dough rising. Savor the smell of freshly baked bread filling the house and read the parable of Lk 13:20-21.
• Set Sundays apart. Days can run together when weekdays and weekends feel the same. Brainstorm ways to make Sunday feel special: Visit a park together, take a longer walk, bake a special dessert or let yourself nap on the day of rest.
• Feast in community, social-distancing-style. Share dinner with family over FaceTime or have a virtual happy hour with friends to raise an Easter glass on Zoom. Share small moments of grace from the past week. Travel down memory lane and reminisce about a favorite holiday together.
• Dye eggs again on Pentecost or have another at-home egg hunt in your backyard or living room. (Why not, while we’re still stuck at home?) Stretch the season of Easter out till the end.
Part of the fun of being Catholic is celebrating holidays for weeks after others move on. Remember — even as the world is changing — that it is still Easter: a season of surprising joy, stunning transformations and Christ coming among us all over again.
Fanucci is a mother, writer and director of a project on vocation at the Collegeville Institute in Collegeville, Minnesota. She is the author of several books, including “Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting,” and blogs at www.motheringspirit.com.