Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter in the Home

With Easter right around the corner and my children growing up fast, getting them into a proper mode of expectation for the feast day is a concern of mine.  I have done what I can to encourage them to enter into the spirit of Lent, and I want them to look forward to Easter.  Not with immense relief that their “fast” from movies and desserts is over, not as a day dedicated to bunnies, Easter eggs, and candy, not as merely an occasion for a special meal that draws together as many relatives as possible.  But to look forward to Easter in its correct light, as the highest feast of the Church, the celebration – and contemplation – of the greatest miracle of Our Lord.

Over the past several years, as my children have begun to plumb the depths and richness of our Faith (my oldest is six), I comprehend how much children – and adults - require an immersive religious experience in order to inculcate in them a fervor and enthusiasm for God and His Church. 

As a teenager, this was something I took for granted.  We had few traditions, but the home altar was important to my family.  A blessed candle was burnt in front of the statue of the Sacred Heart 24/7.  Finding new material for altar cloths, changing them, and arranging the altar was a serious and special duty.  There was an excitement there that had little to do with secular anything, and more to do with setting aside a special place to honor and adore God in our home.  Now that I have the precious responsibilities of my children’s souls, I am afforded the opportunity to appreciate what I was given and realize how much effect it had.

Throughout Passion Week we’ll be attending what ceremonies we can, praying story rosaries (where I tell them the extended version of the mystery interspersed with the Hail Marys), and performing an abbreviated version of the Stations of the Cross. 

For Easter, I make a special bread, we dye eggs, we work on some hymns, and we print off a bunch of traditional images relating to the Resurrection so they can color them (for websites that have some decent free images click here, here, and here).  Last year we made an ‘Alleluia! Banner,’ and this year we’ll be adding a streamer of silk flowers (click here for a tutorial). 

In order to help my children explore the depths of our religion more deeply and at a younger age, I make a big deal about both the secular (if you will) and spiritual aspects of religious holidays.  Their hands-on interaction, along with discussion and story-telling, is vital for their continued interest in learning about the truths of the Faith.

This might seem an obvious fact to some, but to others who were raised in the hazy truths, half-truths, and errors of the Novus Ordo sect, the importance of the liturgical year might seem more of “just something one does,” or an excuse for celebrations rather than an active participation, to what degree we can, in the life of the Church.  Why do we do it?  We celebrate feast days and “do it up big” to show the degree of their importance to us.  We set them aside as something special - not for the sake our own entertainment, but for the greater glory of God. 

The process of preparation for Easter, attempting to experience the Passion of Christ to what degree we can, along with washing crystal and linens, tacking up lace behind the altar, preparing the candles, the braided bread, and dying the eggs helps create a fervor and love for the occasion.    If the point of culture is to aid us in becoming worthy citizens, of Heaven most importantly, I can think of few things more essential for children than to experience a culture that surrounds and supports the feast days of the Church.