By Miriam Trujillo, Columnist
On every Easter since I can remember, I always had a special tradition, a secret I kept from everyone else. I would get up early, dress in my Easter best, and slip outside. Then I would wander about in my nearly two-acre backyard in a giddy haze, drinking in the smells and sounds of an early spring morning; a morning in which every patch of grass, every bright new flower, and every gust of wind reminded me of the supreme victory my God had just wrought for us all.
That one hour in every year always felt like my best attempt at prayer. It was the time when the mercy and beauty of God felt so near to me. I could feel his love for me as warmly and directly as if I were the only thing on earth He wanted. My family was the kind that went to every single Triduum mass. Thus, to me, the whole weekend played itself out like a gripping drama: the suspense of Holy Thursday, the unfiltered sorrow of Good Friday, the emptiness of Holy Saturday. It was no wonder then, on the morning of Easter Sunday and its good news, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. My God and all whom He had saved had come out of the weekend as the winners.
As I grew up, however, I started to realise that a lot of my cherished childhood traditions were losing their magical flavour. Going to the theatre, unwrapping Christmas presents, listening to the radio on Thanksgiving day, none of them brought the same amount of wonder that they used to. Gradually, even Easter morning began to feel lackluster. I felt like I was going through the motions, trying to bring back the emotions of joy and peace that happened to me long ago.
Then it occurred to me that perhaps many other Catholics, striving to keep Easter, feel the way I do. The events of the first Easter were nearly two thousand years ago, and all the distracting problems and pleasures of daily life are right here in the present. I know that I, at least, find it very hard to to break off from my everyday mindset for a weekend to immerse myself in the Easter sacrifice. After two thousand years, does it feel like we are just going through the motions of a ritual, trying to conjure feelings of shock at our share in Christ’s death and joy in His victory? How can we be moved by a story when we already know its end, and have known it all our lives?
I would like to urge everyone who has ever felt this way to consider this: Easter is not just a story, Easter is a lifeline. On its most fundamental level, Easter doesn’t take you away from your daily accomplishments and activities, it gives these activities meaning. Easter’s victory allows everything you do to take on the dignity and joy of a co-redeemer’s work. This co-redeemer sees the happy ending that, through Easter, is possible after death, and she works to bring herself and everyone she knows to this everlasting bliss. This mission is the Easter we must live all year round. This is the road which God opened up to me with His resurrection.
As for the traditions of the holy-day, the motions we go through every Easter weekend to commemorate Jesus’ triumph are also vitally important. As human beings who respond to all things perceptible, we need the music, the prayers, the journey from each of the seven churches, the feeling of the Eucharist on our tongues, and the triumphal procession of Easter herself to bring home what an important day for humankind this is. We need the story of the death and resurrection, condensed into the drama of a weekend, to remind us of Easter’s year-long ramifications.
This Easter, I’m going to get dressed in my holy-day best, and take an early morning walk outside to thank God for His sacrifice. I want to let the meaning of my new life in Grace seep into my soul through the conduits of God’s sun, flowers, birds, and wind. I may be growing up, but part of growing up is realising what traditions are too important to abandon. Easter’s promise is one I want to keep.
God bless you all and a Happy Easter from all of us here at Clarifying Catholicism!