The Church takes fifty days to
exult in and to deepen its
embrace of the wondrous mystery
of Easter. Of course, the
Church celebrates the Paschal
Mystery every day and year after
year. But in each liturgical year
the people of God are even more
conscious of the astonishing
events of the life, Death, and
Resurrection of Jesus Christ during
the fifty days of Easter Time.
The newly baptized, the
neophytes, join the liturgical
assembly of the local Church
rejoicing in their new status as
members of the Body of Christ.
All the baptized renew both the memory and the mandate of
their baptismal identity each Sunday, promising over and over
again to live in the new life of the risen Christ.
The Scripture texts recount some of the most amazing stories
of the post-Resurrection encounters between Christ and the
disciples, and the readings from the Acts of the Apostles (which
are particular to this liturgical season) unfold for us the challenges
and excitement of the first communities of believers as
they seek to understand and live out the meaning of Jesus rising
from the dead. The music and the prayers of the liturgy all contribute
to the glorious nature of the season; mother earth slowly
comes to life again; the winter “blahs” are replaced by the exuberance
of spring days; and the general sense that there is indeed
new life pervades our bones and our conversations.
For most parishes there really isn’t a down time when it comes to
celebrating the unfolding of the faith life of the local Church.
But if there is a time when the parish schedule is bursting with
activity, it is likely in the weeks after Easter.
Sacramental celebrations receive special attention:
Baptisms that have been delayed since before Lent; one or more
celebrations for all the first communicants; the Sacrament of
Confirmation is often scheduled during this time; and the wedding
season gets underway.
These many liturgies, along with the liturgies of the Lord’s
Day, underline the festive nature of Easter Time as the music,
prayer texts, and preaching continue
to proclaim the good news
of the Resurrection.
As a new spiritual life
bursts forth in the Church, the
liturgical environment can resonate
with the colors, textures,
and beauty of the nature’s springtime
that is pushing through the
earth, and the spiritual springtime
that is informing our life of
faith once again.
The liturgical environment for
Easter Time takes its cue from
the arrangements that were put
in place for Easter. Hopefully
there are elements in the Easter
environment that will last for the
weeks of Easter Time—for example, fabric hangings. But the
environment and art committee must be vigilant to make sure
that fresh flower arrangements are not left to fade and die; most
fresh flower arrangements will not last for seven weeks! The
environment will need to be tended and refreshed a number of
times between Easter and Pentecost, and some items should simply
be discarded. Here is why it is a good idea to keep some of
the resources—especially finances—until after Easter. The environment
after Easter can be simpler as the weeks go by, but it
should be no less beautiful. If large and extravagant displays for
Easter have absorbed all the environment and art budget, it
would be wise to cut back on those arrangements and instead
make the budget last for the entire period of Easter Time.
This allows for those extras that need to be put in place for
special parish celebrations as noted earlier: first Holy Communion
and Confirmation liturgies and other celebrations that occur in
the life of the parish.
During Easter Time the baptismal font should receive
extra attention. It doesn’t need to be surrounded by extensive
arrangements; it is a liturgical symbol and not a garden centerpiece.
The font is always a primary ritual center, and during
Easter Time, it has a special significance in the liturgical space.
As all the baptized touch the water for blessing as they enter and
leave the church, they might call to mind more vividly the
renewal of baptismal promises made at the Vigil or on Easter
Sunday. The sprinkling rite begins at the font, and the opening
rites of all funerals should be at the font. These connections can
be noted in the Homily as part of
the mystagogy that is developed
during the Easter season.
The Paschal candle deserves special
attention. It stands by the ambo for
the duration of Easter Time and
should be monitored that it burns
evenly and retains its beauty. It is
the Light of Christ and should be
the most beautiful pillar of wax the
parish can offer for all to enjoy.
There is an unfortunate trend
or temptation to decorate the main
cross or crucifix with colorful fabrics
or white swags during Easter
Time. This is rarely done well and in
fact is not appropriate. Resurrection
is a great and wonderful mystery,
and it defies all literal interpretations
with decorative items, as fine
and as colorful as they may be.
If the main cross/crucifix of the
church seems to need decorating,
then it may be time to consider
a more worthy cross/crucifix that
speaks in its own design and form.
As the warm spring weather arrives, we naturally look at
the outdoor environment. It’s time to get rid of some of the vestiges
of winter, prepare flower beds, repair borders and walkways,
and generally do a spring clean-up of our spaces, inside
and out. The environment and art committee should take some
responsibility for the outdoor spaces that surround the church.
Hospitality on the inside begins
on the outside. Surely, the parish
maintenance crew would
appreciate some extra assistance
in preparing the property so
that it speaks to all, members
and neighbors, of the stewardship
of the Church for God’s
creation. What better place to
exhibit that care than on the
This is a time when donations
of spring potting plants
can be solicited from parishioners.
Initially, these might
be arranged in groupings
inside and, when the weather is
hospitable, they can be planted
outside to help beautify the grounds
throughout the summer and into the
Banners that have been placed
on lamp standards for Easter can
be left in place for Easter Time to
indicate that the joy of the liturgical
season is carried over into the renewing
life that nature provides for all
The grace, the glory, and the
joy of the Resurrection are found in
the lives of all believers, and especially
when they gather for full, conscious,
and active participation in
the liturgy. Perhaps the environment
and art committee should sit down
with some of the other liturgical
ministers—the musicians, the coordinators,
the greeters and ushers, the
lectors and ministers of Communion,
and, yes, the priest celebrants—to
explore how the whole assembly and
the entire space can better serve that
vision of full participation. Think
how wonderful it would be if the
liturgical life of the parish burst
forth with a newness of energy and
joy during Easter Time every year!
If the environment and art
committee has survived until this point in the liturgical year,
take a bow; you have done a lot of work and have done it well.
The transition to the next season is not too difficult; but there is
much to do as the weeks of Ordinary Time unfold.