Easter is a celebration of life, hope and new beginnings. Christians commemorate the joyful culmination of Holy Week on Sunday. Churches throughout the world are adorned in white, lavished with lilies, azaleas and tulips all signs of rejoicing.
Much like Christmas, the holiday has prevailed as an opportunity to market goods to those who recognize the spiritual implication of the day and to those who do not participate in the traditional religious observances.
Stores are filled with baskets, colorful plastic eggs and loads of sugary candies. The Easter bunny is a name nearly every child recognizes and the center of attention on many television commercials.
Does the commercialism of Easter diminish the importance of the season? When I reminisce about what Easter meant to me as a child, I remember the joy of an Easter egg hunt and baskets filled with plastic grass and goodies. I also remember the solemnity of Holy Week and the journey of the cross. Those visions were instilled in me through scripture readings and church services and have not faded over time.
In the fifties, little girls attended church dressed in frilly dresses, tiny white gloves and patent leather shoes. An adorable bonnet, secured firmly by an elastic band under a chin, adorned a youthful head and a small ivory purse, containing a prayer book and rosary, dangled from her arm.
Little boys wore sharply pressed pants and colorful dress shirts. Stiff, well-buffed leather shoes were laced tight on their feet. Many sported fedoras that mimicked their father’s. Some even wore vests, giving the impression that they soon would be young men, ready to take on the world.
The tradition of dressing your best for church has faded over the years. Shorts, soccer uniforms and sneakers are acceptable attire in many churches today. Hats and gloves are nearly obsolete. It is a reflection of our changing world. While sometimes I would not be opposed to turning back the clock, I recognize change as necessary, inevitable and occasionally, an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
On Palm Sunday, the church pews were more crowded than usual, something I remember from years past. It is a cause for jubilation in itself. It is a sign that those who have drifted away from the church feel a sense of need to return. It gives me
hope that faith will prevail though all the chaos of our troubled world.
The Catholic Church recently initiated numerous changes to the wording of the Mass. It is challenging to remember to alter responses instilled in me since kindergarten. I accepted the modifications and try hard to remember to not recite the wrong words. Change is not easy.
When the priest announced that the vocal reading of the Passion would not take place, I was concerned and confused, fearing another change would somehow diminish the importance of the readings. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
No words were spoken by the handful of young performers as they delivered the significant story in such a manner that caused me to choke back tears. The silent play gave me a deeper appreciation of the story than a thousand recited words.
The service refreshed my spiritual core and reminded me of the importance of the need to plant seeds of faith in our offspring, to ensure future generations will not lose sight of the meaning of Easter. It also encouraged me to embrace change.
May each of you have a blessed Easter and may you celebrate life, hope and new beginnings.