I must admit that for most of my life, the best part of Lent was when it was over. This was mostly because I had survived the gauntlet of Church on Holy Week and Easter (we went to every liturgy, and Easter morning too), and because I could watch television again and maybe still see a bit of the NCAA basketball tournament. Over time, I appreciated more the beauty of Lent and especially Holy Week and Easter celebrations and look forward to them each year as an adult, especially after the pandemic.
One question I have struggled with after Easter in my spiritual life is “Now What?” Lent gives such wonderful prescriptions for growing through the season, with our prayer, fasting and almsgiving, so what are we to do in Easter? I know and appreciate the 50 days to reflect on the Resurrection of Jesus, but sometimes I’m not sure exactly how I might go about doing that, besides appreciating that I can drink Mountain Dew again each year after giving it up.
Many joy-filled markers in our lives can come with the “Now What?” question like completing school/college, marriage or vocational discernment, new jobs, retirement, etc. All of those are exciting and still come with questions of if/how everything will work out. I wonder if the disciples of Jesus were wondering “now what?” even after Jesus appeared to them in today’s Gospel reading from John. They certainly were fearful after his Crucifixion, but even in their rejoicing in seeing Christ again I wonder if they were a little confused as to exactly what might come next for them.
Scholars suggest that the remarkable scene from today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (2:42-47) may have been more an ideal the early Christian community was aspiring to, rather than a reality they were living out. They took the “now what?” question and lived what they were taught and experienced by worshipping together regularly, gathering in community and taking care of each other. As markedly different as our culture is today, we still are striving to do these things and can see many ways we are living out the ideals of that early Christian community.
One way to answer the “Now What?” question at The Basilica is to encourage and support all those who will be celebrating Easter sacraments over the next several weeks. We will have couples exchange wedding vows in the Sacrament of Matrimony, families bringing babies to Mass for Baptism, young children will receive the Eucharist for the first time, youth will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, and adults will also be confirmed at Pentecost after months of preparation. These particular moments of God’s grace being poured out can bring the question of “Now What?” for those who receive them and those who love them. “Our child is baptized, how to we raise him/her in the Catholic faith?” “I just received Eucharist for the first time, or Confirmation, how will it make a difference in my life?” We pray that all will be open to God’s grace being given to them, and that we will be open to that grace in our own lives so we can live like those early Christians, or at least keep striving to.
Continued Easter Blessings to all!
Director of Learning