Easter season continues; it continues until the third week of May in fact. In my post about Easter and Contrasts, written in the final days of Lent, I concluded with the inseparability of the Passion from the Resurrection. Both are part of the one Paschal Mystery—sorrow and joy, grief and hope. My own experience of Easter Sunday this year was more like the empty tomb and two friends shared that they too did not have happy Easters. Whether it is disappointment in the liturgy, a disruption at the family dinner, or travel plans gone awry, we can use these experiences to grow in our spiritual lives through the liturgy. I decided that in my sadness I was in good company; the women at the tomb too were bewildered and grieving. For me, this Easter season has been a sustained reflection upon what it means to live in the hope of salvation through the often challenging realities of daily life. What is happening in your life this Eastertide? The liturgy and especially the liturgical year can give us a spiritual framework through which to understand better our lives and to walk more closely with the Lord.
The Easter season has a name in the initiation process; it is called mystagogy. In the period of mystagogy the newly baptized, the neophytes, explore the sacraments they experienced for the first time at the Easter Vigil. Traditionally it was a time for fuller catechesis on the mysteries of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Done well, this mystagogy can rejuvenate the whole parish. Mystagogical thinking is something we can all develop and use to enhance our life of discipleship by better relating the liturgy to our lives. Liturgy and life are intimately connected, if we make space and invite them to dialogue with one another.
The Gospel readings during the octave of Easter show us that the disciples were a bit confused. They struggled to see and accept the Risen Lord as He appeared to them. Like the neophytes and the disciples we are always learning how to recognise the Lord along the way. I am struck by all the different places Jesus has been appearing to the disciples. They find him on the road to Emmaus, while they are dining, during their workday he appears at the seashore, and they believe in Him when they touch his wounds. Can we see Jesus on the street, in shared meals, at our workplace, and in those who are wounded physically, emotionally, spiritually? There is also something to be said for hearing each day in the Acts of the Apostles how much Jesus’ followers really struggled to become church. We too are constantly learning and re-learning what it means to be community as the body of Christ.
What stands out for you this Easter season? Maybe it is the repetition of “Alleluia” in so many of the hymns we sing. Maybe it is the decoration in the church, the water in the sprinkling rite, or the hints of spring? Whatever it is, what does it all mean for your life of discipleship? Easter is the highpoint of the liturgical year and it lasts for fifty days, offering us plenty of material for mystagogy, for theological reflection that connects liturgy to your life.