Monday, January 4, 2010

Easter


God our Father,
by raising Christ your Son
you conquered the power of death
and opened for us the way to eternal life.
Let our celebration today raise us up
and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Easter is a season celebrated for fifty days in the Catholic Church. Fifty days! And it's a season filled with beauty, joy, promise, and plenty of feast days.

The season is so long that I often struggle to keep up the momentum. Following Tomie de Paola's Garden of the Good Shepherd sticker board and daily reading/prayer gives us a focus each day. It was a lot of fun celebrating with the Garden of Good Shepherd parties the one year too (see below). Another easy idea that we do some years is have our Jesus Tree transformed into a tree of Easter eggs filled with fun, yet simple ideas, and each day an egg is picked. The suggestions can be anything -- go out for an ice cream, listen to Handel's Hallelujah, make a cross craft, dye Easter eggs, and so on.

During the Easter season we have Easter Sunday and the Octave of Easter itself, Divine Mercy Sunday, the Ascension of Jesus, and the culmination of the season with Pentecost.

Easter Sunday & the Octave of Easter



If you do not plan for the full fifty days, do plan for Easter Sunday and the Octave of Easter. Make small, BIG plans with your kids. Change up your routine just as you do during Holy Week but make it joyous and fun and full of life. Plan your Easter egg hunts and family visits and Easter crafts for this week. Make it special because it is special!

The Garden of the Good Shepherd

The kids and I followed The Garden of the Good Shepherd: A Sticker Calendar to Count the Fifty Days of Easter by Peter Mazar and illustrated by Tomie dePaola. We had daily readings and prayer and at the end of each week, have a themed lunch. It was a lot of fun. The kids loved it. It is a bit of work so plan on this if you have the time and energy. Or, just use the sticker book and readings, but forget all the extra stuff! Alternatively, you could do daily crafts for each symbol instead of food.
Easter Gospel Study

This is a simple, but consistent project to do for the Easter season. The kids really enjoyed it too (ages 3-10). Simply look up the Gospel readings for the week, study and discuss them, and create artwork based off of the words.

These are in two posts: weeks 1-5 and 6-8.


Divine Mercy Sunday



The message of Jesus' Divine Mercy was given to us through St. Faustina by this image and prayer of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It is a powerful message: no matter how sinful the person, no matter how horrible the sins, God's mercy prevails. If one is truly repentant and sorrowful, God forgives. He loves us. He wants us to be with Him.

The Church celebrates this feast day on the Sunday following Easter Sunday.

Our favorite tradition is making our Divine Mercy Sundaes for dessert on this Sunday. We pray a Chaplet of Divine Mercy as well and we talk about God's love.

The Ascension of Jesus



Forty days after Easter, the Catholic Church celebrates the Ascension of Jesus. Before this, Jesus stayed with Mary and the Apostles, preparing them for His ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost



The fifty days of Easter are at an end.. The Holy Spirit descends on Mary and the Apostles, as promised by Jesus, and they are ready to go out into the world to spread the Good News. In our home, this feast day is most memorable due to Father wearing red and our having a birthday celebration, as it is the birthday of the Catholic Church.

Trinity Sunday



Officially, this feast day is celebrated during Ordinary Time, but I placed this feast with all of the Easter celebrations as it is a moveable feast dependent on the date of Pentecost. This day is celebrated one week after Pentecost.

The mystery of the Blessed Trinity will always just be out of our human reach. Amazingly, with kids, their faith is pure and simple. They believe. It is true. God tells us so and it is so. Still, simple analogies are often effective with kids. The Blessed Trinity is like the clover leaf (3 petals on one stem) or like a person (I am one person but I am mother, daughter, sister) or like the states of matter (water can be gas, liquid, or frozen).

Corpus Christi Sunday



Again, this feast is celebrated during Ordinary Time, but it is dependent on the date of Trinity Sunday, and follows on the Sunday after.

On Holy Thursday we remember the events of the Last Supper, but it is somewhat overshadowed by the Passion of Christ that so closely follows. The Church, in its wisdom, set aside yet another day to remember and celebrate this huge event. Each day, in Holy Masses around the world, Christ's Passion is played out again and again, and on this day in particular we celebrate the beginning of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ given to us by Jesus at the Last Supper.

For more Easter ideas, feel free to follow my Easter Pinterest board.

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