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Fifty Days of Joy

Amanda Tipton Photography

Cari Donaldson - published on 04/22/14

Good Friday has passed. Now it’s time to celebrate!

Every year on Holy Saturday I spend my day thinking about the first disciples.  I think about the agony they must have been in.  I think about how their sorrow over Christ’s death must have been so strong it was a physical sensation.  I think about how they must have looked out over their future, and imagined the pain and sadness casting a poisonous shadow over the rest of their days.

Even the sight of the empty tomb the next day didn’t fill them with the joy it fills us with now.  While the sorrow would have been banished on that first Easter, as news of Christ’s Resurrection spread among the disciples, there was still so much confusion, so many unanswered questions.  It would have been hard for joy to filter through.

I wish I could go to them and tell them that it’ll be okay.  I wish I could share the wisdom of experience with them.  I know how the story ends!  It’s amazing – even better than you could ever imagine!  I want to share the joy of Easter with them, the sensation of coming into the Church, exuberantly decorated, status unveiled, flowers everywhere.  I want to tell them that their suffering has a definite end, and beyond that point there is so much joy.

This, I imagine, is what Jesus is feeling when He sees us struggling – when He sees us with our hearts ripped out and bleeding, and all we can see is the suffering because it’s too huge to peer around.  I imagine He wants to reassure us that there is an end point to the suffering, and beyond it there is such joy.

Sometimes I get so caught up in remembering to unite my suffering with Christ that I forget that beyond the Man of Sorrow, there is the Bridegroom, the Light of the World.  I forget that Good Friday wasn’t an end to itself, but that Easter will always follow.  Mostly, I forget that the joys, like the sorrows, aren’t limited to the gigantic and dramatic, but that the smallness of my domestic life is part of it, too.

Just this past week, there’s been the sorrow of a little girl whose chick has died, a sorrow that is very real and cuts into a tender heart so deeply.  Then there’s the sweetness of friends who help find a replacement chick.  There was the irritation and embarrassment of a young mother struggling with her small children during Mass, and the smile of camaraderie and solidarity an older mother flashed her.  There was the pain and isolation of loneliness, relieved by an unexpected text from a friend.  The mundane sorrows of everyday life, followed by sweetness not diminished because it was on a small domestic scale.

It’s the lie of the enemy that magnifies the sorrow and tries to convince us that pain will be our constant companion.  It’s the lie that tries to obscure the small joys.  But that’s why Good Friday is one day, but Easter is fifty.  So fill those fifty days with joy – with the small joys that accumulate in our soul like gold dust.

Cari Donaldson is the author of Pope Awesome and Other Stories: How I Found God, Had Kids, and Lived to Tell the Tale. She married her high school sweetheart, had six children with him, and now spends her days homeschooling, writing, and figuring out how to stay one step ahead of her child army. She blogs about faith and family life at

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