How Do You Celebrate Easter?

by Melannie Svoboda SND on April 2, 2018

If I asked you, “How do you celebrate Christmas?” you would probably give me many examples: stringing lights, trimming the tree, decorating the house, baking certain cookies, cooking special meals, buying and receiving presents, parties of all kinds, family gatherings, Midnight Mass, etc.

But when I ask, “How do you celebrate Easter?” what would you say? Easter baskets, jelly beans, singing alleluia at the Easter Mass? The truth is we Christians are good at celebrating Jesus’ birth, but we’re not so good at celebrating Jesus’ rising. One reason is this: we all know what it means to be born. But we don’t know what it means to be risen from the dead.

Yet the Resurrection is the central truth of our Christian faith. How might we celebrate Easter in a way befitting such a glorious feast? I’ll suggest three ways—all based on key elements of the Easter story.

Peace. The first words Jesus speaks to his frightened disciples after the resurrection are these: “Peace be with you.” As we look around our world today, we see how desperately we need peace—in our world, our country, our neighborhoods, our families, and in ourselves. One way to celebrate Easter is to try to be a person of peace. We can do this in small ways. The Trappist monk Thomas Merton said that when he began to embrace a life of non-violence, he started by shutting doors more softly.

Similarly, we can become a person of peace by slowing down, by reducing our complaining, by refusing to repeat gossip, by speaking respectfully to everyone we encounter, by listening to others, by complimenting someone, and by counting our blessings.

Freedom. A second way to celebrate Easter is by exercising the gift of freedom that Jesus bestowed upon us through his resurrection. We can begin by asking: What is preventing me from being as free as Jesus?

Immediately we might think of addictions that prevent individuals from being free—the addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, and even to the internet or cellphone. But there are other things besides these types of addiction that can hinder our freedom: a lack of self-esteem, fear of what others think of us, hypersensitivity. We can also become “addicted” to our prejudices or our way of doing things (it’s my way or no way!). We may also be addicted to our need to be in control.

There is only one way to grow in the freedom to love as Jesus loves: by realizing we have nothing to lose, for we already possess the one thing necessary: God’s unconditional love for us!

Joy. The great British Cardinal, John Henry Newman said, “The chief grace of early Christianity was joy.” We can never forget how many of those early martyrs went to their deaths singing! Talk about joy!

Does joy still mark us as Christians? The cause of our joy is simple: Jesus’ resurrection shows us that goodness triumphs over evil, that love is stronger than hatred, and that life wins out over death. If we really believe this, how could we be anything but joyful?

Perhaps this Easter season we can make a conscious effort to be more joyful. We could smile more, laugh more, hum more, dance more, have fun more, and try to look for the good in life. As the Jesuit writer John Powell said, “If you are happy, let your face know it!”

We could share joy with others by telling a joke, playing a game with someone, sharing a cartoon, watching a funny movie, treating someone to lunch. One theologian wisely said, “The opposite of joy is not sorrow. It is unbelief.”

So, this Easter, let us celebrate this great feast by becoming men and women of peace, by growing in the freedom of Jesus, and by living the joy that is the chief grace of our Christian faith.

Happy Easter!

I chose an ancient hymn for our song today, one you are probably familiar with. It’s entitled “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” and it was written in the 14th Century in Bohemia (where my ancestors come from!) It was originally written in Latin by an unknown composer. In the 18th Century it was translated into English.

 

What are some of the ways you celebrate Easter?

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen April 2, 2018 at 5:23 am

Sr. Melannie,

On this day after Easter, thanks for the reminders on the ways to continue the celebration in our lives.

The idea of not gossiping has really hit home with me lately. Thanks for mentioning that one. The Holy Spirit has been reminding me of that one lately.

God bless!

Kathleen

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Dorothy April 2, 2018 at 6:33 am

Thanks so much for marvelous seeds for today! How about addictions
to carbohydrates, over-eating?
Pray fo our Congregation for Elections this week, please. May Peace,
Freedom, Joy be our Hallmarks!

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Loretta April 2, 2018 at 6:42 am

Dear Sister!
Peace, freedom and joy! So much joy in our “month of Sundays!” we call the Easter Season! Can’t help but be joyful as we go through our days knowing God’s love surrounds all of us and triumphs in all things, even in the struggles and challenges. Happy Easter to you Sister! And peace be with you! Loretta

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Joan Campagna April 2, 2018 at 7:07 am

I’ll never forget one of our nuns telling us that Easter is the most important celebration in the Church. I sure thought it was Christmas with all its traditions and hype.

Thank you for reminding us!!

I plan to be more peaceful.

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Denise April 2, 2018 at 7:43 am

Dear Sister M,
I love the common sense suggestions of change to initiate more peace, freedom and joy into my everyday. Recently I’ve taken to putting on my favorite CD, Graceland by Paul Simon and I dance around the house while I do chores. It has made the biggest difference in my attitude!
I can’t wait to try some of your suggestions and see the results. I”m 65 and refuse to stay fixed in habits that are not the best I can do, I know with God’s help, I can always do better.
Hugs,
Denise

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John Hopkins April 2, 2018 at 12:21 pm

Right on, Denise! I love that album, too1

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Carol Kapostasy April 2, 2018 at 8:07 am

This year I was so busy with all kinds of “works” that made me feel rushed & pressured but on Easter I basked in the glow of a glorious sunrise & reflected on all Jesus suffered & went through for 33 years. I was humbled by his sacrifices & realized once again how much I need the Trinity in my daily life. Praise Jesus for redeeming my soul when my time comes. I will be more aware of what I need to do in order to be worthy of walking through the gates of paradise & walking with my Savior in the garden.

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Marla April 2, 2018 at 9:51 am

Thank you for a great reminder of Easter…to speak and share Joy in all I am and do. You are such a great example of this living Joy. Happy Easter! Melannie!

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Pam Gunn April 2, 2018 at 11:17 am

Thank you for your blog. So inspirational.

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Cathy April 2, 2018 at 11:23 am

I think this is one of the best essays you have written, Sister Melannie. You give us so much food for thought in the days to come and real steps to embrace small yet powerful ways to live the Good News. Many thanks! Alleluia!

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Jean April 2, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Happy Easter Sister Melannie,
Wonderful way to begin our week!!
Thank you 🙂

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Terri Butel April 2, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Thank you so much for this! Even my cat, Mia, my early morning prayer companion, perked up and began purring loudly when she heard the song. All of creation sings!

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John Hopkins April 2, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Happy Easter, Melannie!

Love that tidbit about how Merton started to close the door more gently when he started to embrace non-violence.

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Barbara Donahue April 2, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Dear Sr. Melanie:

What beautiful words flow from your mouth. I am never so at peace as when I am in church at Easter Vigil and the entire church is in darkness for about 45 minutes. As we light the candles all over the church, light comes forth and shines so brightly and beautifully. Jesus has come! Allelujah! Easter is the most important holiday in our church and the joy it brings goes without saying. Bless you and all the sisters at this most holy time of year.

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Jean Canatsey April 2, 2018 at 3:29 pm

Being a Liturgical Musician for most of my 78 years, Easter is a very busy time of year. Even though I enjoy the high of Easter Mass, I reach Easter Monday with a sigh of relief. Thanks for reminding me of some of the very simple ways of slowing down & becoming a person of peace. What a wonderful world it would be if everyone practiced a few of these things.
Thank you Sr. Melanie for your timely reminders. Have a Blessed Easter Season and a joy filled day!

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Ellen April 2, 2018 at 9:38 pm

Dear Sr. Melannie,

Thank you for the wonderful and wise reminder to reflect in peace and joy on Easter and in these stressful times when it is easy to forget to be grateful for all of the blessings God has bestowed upon us. This Easter has been a difficult one for me, as my Mom recently passed and we always celebrated many special Easters together. It made me miss her even more and I have been feeling sad. Thank you for your shared loving reminders. They uplift me and help assure me that Mom is an angel held in God’s gentle hands and that she is with me always and watching over me by His side. Peace be with you, Sr. Melannie.

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Terry Corr April 3, 2018 at 6:57 am

I know that hymn, Jesus Christ is Risen Today, but with different verses. I’m going to assume that the version I know was the result of the Latin to English translation in the 18th century? We learn something new every week. Peace, Freedom, and Joy to all.

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Ed Johnson April 3, 2018 at 8:14 am

Peace, Freedom, Joy! Wonderful words to live by each day of our lives. Thank you, Sister. Easter Blessings……
Ed J.

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Josita April 3, 2018 at 10:40 am

Hope you are having a glorious Easter, Melannie. Loved your inspiring blog, as always.
One of my favorite quotes is ” Joy is the infallible sign of God’s presence”. I think it was Cardinal Newman who said it.
Happy Easter, happy spring( if it ever arrives!). Love, Josita

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Andre Sequeira April 3, 2018 at 11:27 am

Dear Sr Melanie

Thanks you for gently reminding us how we can truly live the Easter message … by becoming men and women of peace, by growing in the freedom of Jesus, and by living the joy that is the chief grace of our Christian faith. The little metaphor about even closing the door gently from Thomas Merton was so meaningful.

Easter wishes to you and all who share this site.

Andre
Perth, West Australia

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