Lent Versus Easter: The Importance of Seasonal Spiritual Practices

Lent Versus Easter_2He is Risen!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

Happy, Happy Easter, good friends!!!

After a demanding and exhausting Lent, I greeted Easter Sunday morning with jubilation.  My husband and I went to church that morning in our Sunday best.  His shirt pressed.  My hair curled.  Then, along with our black lab donning a bright white bow, we met up with family for brunch.  The adults drank gin and tonic’s.  The kids searched for eggs.  We all indulged in ham, asparagus, potatoes, cake, candy, and cookies.  

I greeted that Easter Sunday evening, however, with less enthusiasm.  I had a stomach ache from all the sugar and a headache from all the alcohol.  Without my Lenten sacrifices and my practices, I felt unmoored and unsettled.  

I had been so intentional about how I would observe the Lenten season, but I had given almost no thought to how I would celebrate the Easter season.

In the Catholic tradition, Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and ends 40 days later with Holy Thursday.  Then, the Easter season begins with Resurrection Sunday and ends 50 days later with Pentecost Sunday.

Lent is a time of fasting; Easter is a time of feasting.

Lent is a time of abstinence; Easter is a time of abundance.

Lent is a time of contrition; Easter is a time of celebration.

Most years, I regard Easter as an excuse to abandon my spiritual practices.  This year, however, after such a grueling Lent, Easter seemed different to me.  It was not a reason to pause my practices.  It was an opportunity to change my spiritual practices.  

Lent, after all, is just the opening act for the main event.  The resurrection is not the end of Lent; it is the beginning of Easter.  It inaugurates the new world and the new life for which we’ve been preparing.  

So, this year, I’ve decided to mark the Easter season as intentionally and diligently as I marked Lent.  I’m trading in my fast from sweets for prayers over all my meals.  I’m trading in my Evening Prayer for a daily gratitude journal.  

I still spend time with my Bible.  But, rather than dwelling in the dark scriptures, I bask in the Gospels’ resurrection accounts.  I still work in my journal.  But, rather than listing my shortcomings or supplications, I count my blessings.  I still offer up prayers.  But, rather than mourning over my sins, I rejoice in my salvation.  In this way, Easter does not thoughtlessly discard my Lenten spiritual practices; it thoughtfully builds upon them.

It is easy to see Lent as a goal we accomplish or a season we survive.  The penitential season, however, is actually just a preparation for the Easter celebration.  So, how do you intend to mark this Easter season?  How do you intend to embrace the new life and the new world that Easter brings?

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