Let's resolve to ride the Paschal triumph to Pentecost.
Does Lenten fasting bring Easter slacking? It can feel that way sometimes. After 40 long days of fasting, penance, and extra prayer, the joy of Easter – filled with sumptuous foods no longer forsaken and a relaxation of our prayer commitments – may succumb to a spiritual malaise as we return to normal routines.
Here are six tips to avoid spiritual letdown and to ride the Paschal triumph to Pentecost.
1A change in spiritual disposition is normal
Ups and downs in the spiritual life are part of our experience as Catholics. Just as the liturgical seasons change, so, too, does our mindset. Many of the extra efforts we made during Lent are not sustainable throughout the year. We should expect – and accept – that the spiritual life will not always hum along as we would like, and that is okay.
2Consider the spirituality of Easter
The two greatest stories of the resurrection appearances – to Mary Magdalen on Easter morning and to the disciples walking to Emmaus on Easter day – end the same way: Once Jesus is recognized, He vanishes from their presence. The message is consistent: We must not try to hold on to the risen Lord, but live with the certitude that He is with us as we seek what is above. If in Lent we felt the Lord’s closeness, let us reframe our mindset to believe, even without feeling.
3Focus on Divine Mercy
Easter unlocks an infinitude of mysteries. Especially since St. John Paul II, the Church has given Easter week to focusing on the inexhaustible mercy of God in redeeming us from sin and death. The resurrection is the ultimate proof that His mercy is real. Let’s pray with a focus on Divine Mercy, with gratitude and with awe at the Lord’s power. (The novena for Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast instituted by John Paul II, started on Good Friday. It’s not too late to jump in!)
Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with Aleteia here.
4Go to Confession in the Easter season
Confession is not just for Lent. The greatest way to experience God’s mercy is through the sacrament of Confession. A thorough examination of conscience and confession refresh us spiritually and draw us to the resurrection on a more intimate level.
5Maintain one Lenten prayer commitment through the Easter season
When we do something extra for God, He rewards us with His grace. So let’s choose one prayer commitment we made during Lent and keep it going through the 50 days of Easter, making modifications if needed. For example, if we had prayed the Stations of the Cross weekly during Lent, perhaps we can spend 15 minutes reading the Bible, praying over the accounts of the resurrection.
6Find some small sacrifices to offer up
Sacrifice, too, is not just for Lent, and it is one of the overlooked ingredients of a strong spiritual life. Our sacrifices need not be as intense as during Lent. Even something as small as offering up salt or condiments on our dinner can lift our hearts to the Lord. We must remember that it was His self-sacrifice that led to the resurrection.
May this year’s Easter celebrations lead not to spiritual letdown, but to a more intimate encounter with the Risen One.
David G. Bonagura, Jr. is the author of Staying with the Catholic Church.