Rorate Caeli

Guest Op-Ed: Carrying the joys of Easter into daily life

By Veronica A. Arntz

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui paschalia festa peregimus; haec, te largiente, moribus et vita teneamus. Per Dominum nostrum.—Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who have celebrated the Paschal Feast, may, be Thy bounty, retain its fruits in our daily habits and behavior. Through our Lord.

After the glories of Easter week, these words of the collect of Low Sunday, or Domenica in albis, give us the direction for the rest of the liturgical year. Through the grace of God, we are meant to carry the fruits of the time we spent praising and thanking God during Easter week into our daily habits and lives.

As Dom Prosper Guéranger comments, “O this the last day of the great Octave, the Church, in her Collect, bids farewell to the glorious solemnities that have so gladdened us, and asks our Lord to grant that our lives and actions may ever reflect the holy influence of our Pasch” (The Liturgical Year: Paschal Time Book I, vol. VII, 301). Joyfully embracing our Lord on Easter Sunday and during the Octave comes naturally, and we should certainly rejoice in any of the consolations we received during that time. Nevertheless, it can become difficult to carry our Easter joy into our daily lives during the rest of the year, which is why this Collect is so poignant and necessary. As fallen human beings, we are in desperate need of the reminder to live the joy of the Resurrection even in the most mundane and difficult tasks of our lives.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux offers us an excellent example of this “Little Way,” of living joyfully the Gospel message in the little tasks of our lives. How easily we can forget the gloriousness of the Resurrection when we must face difficult co-workers or office situations, take care of children day in and day out, or work through time consuming studies. Nevertheless, Thérèse offers the “little way” of doing even the smallest tasks with the greatest love for Jesus. Thérèse describes her vocation in terms of love: “Charity gave me the key to my vocation…. In the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my Love…my vocation at last I have found it…MY VOCATION IS LOVE!” (Story of a Soul, Manuscript B, 194). As such, we should allow the joys of the Resurrection to inspire our own vocation to love, in whatever state of life God has called us.

We can thus keep the Resurrection at the heart of everything that we do. We are prone to complaining and rejecting the little graces that God is willing to give us; we should consider, however, with how much love He looks upon His little servants who offer everything to Him through acts of love.

Indeed, St. Paul writes in the second letter to the Corinthians that he and the Apostles are “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor 4:10). St. Paul and the Apostles die to themselves and their own desires in little and great ways, through offering up their sufferings and sacrifices to God, so that Jesus might live in them. For, if they do not die to themselves, just as Christ died, then they will never be able to enter into His Resurrection. Thus, when we die to ourselves in the little things in our lives—surrendering our personal interests, desires, and habits to God—we are entering into both His death and His Resurrection.

This is one of the ways that we can transfer the “Easter joys” of the Octave into our daily living. And again, as Thérèse writes, “I am only a child, powerless and weak, and yet it is my weakness that gives me the boldness of offering myself as VICTIM of Your Love, O Jesus!” (Story of a Soul, Manuscript B, 195). Thus, even in as we carry the joy of the Lord within us, we should be victims of Jesus’ love in our daily sufferings and active detaching from this world.

The Easter joy that we experience here on earth is ultimately meant to have an eschatological orientation. When our Lord encounter Mary after His Resurrection, He commanded her not to hold on to Him. Why does He have these seemingly harsh words for her? He knows that what He has prepared in Heaven for Mary and for all of us is far greater than the sensible comforts that we experience here on earth. In a similar way, we must “move beyond,” so to speak, the immediate comforts of the Octave of Easter, “‘no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him’” (1 Cor 2:9). In other words, Heaven is beyond any joy or comfort that we could conceive of here on earth.

The spiritual consolations we experience on earth should certainly accompany us in our memories as we journey into the remainder of the liturgical year (and indeed, the Easter season continues until Pentecost). Nevertheless, they should remind us that we are meant to experience the beatific joy of Heaven someday—the joy that we have here is incomplete until we finally see God face-to-face. Thus, we should even try to detach ourselves from the spiritual consolations that we experience here on earth, for death is the ultimate tearing of body and soul, but the only means by which we can enter Heaven.

As our Lord, the Good Shepherd, tells us, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The devil will attempt to steal our Easter joy, and he will try to tempt us into hating the simple tasks that we are given each day. Through the grace of God, we must resist these temptations, and enter into Christ’s very life in everything that we do. Our Lord suffered, died, and rose again so that we might enter into His Resurrection as well. As we experienced during the Holy Triduum, we cannot enter into Easter without first enduring the pains of Good Friday. The joys of Easter are so much sweeter because we stood at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday.

Now, as the Collect of Low Sunday reminds us, we must move past the solemnities of the Easter week and carry the joy that we experienced into our daily lives and habits, which is when living the joy of Easter becomes the most difficult. Here, in our daily tasks, we are called to live like St. Therese, offering our daily duties given to us in our state of life to God, always anticipating the “abundant life” that He desires to give us in Heaven. Just as we carry the death of our Lord in our bodies every day, so too must we carry His joy as we anticipate life everlasting and the Resurrection of the Body.