Some of us may not have had Easter Monday off as a vacation day, but as we continue to celebrate the Easter Season, let's try and be more like the students in our Catholic schools.
When I was growing up and attending Catholic school, Easter Monday was a vacation day. It was great -- not as memorable as getting off All Saints Day, which was the high holiday of splitting up the Halloween booty, acquired the night before, but it was still an appreciated day off from school. This is probably not what the Sisters of St. Francis intended in giving us the day off. Easter Monday is a great reminder that Easter is not over. The Easter Season continues all the way until Pentecost Sunday, and is a time to build on the joy of Easter Sunday.
If most of us are honest with ourselves, we get caught up in the commercial efforts surrounding Easter. Cute bunnies and chocolate treats are more fun than thinking about the suffering and death that precipitates Jesus' glorious Resurrection on Easter Sunday. It is heavy stuff. However, without the Passion of our Lord, there is no Resurrection -- there is no salvation.
As we grow older, our understanding of our world and our faith are more complex, and on top of that, our daily lives are more complicated. Who is going to pick up which kids and where? Who is going to get the next promotion at work? What's for dinner and who is going to make it? We are so focused on these daily tasks and questions that need to be answered that the bigger questions go unanswered. So, when do we reflect on these bigger questions? When do we ask ourselves about our belief in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? When do we open our hearts to his presence?
Recently, I was at a school board retreat and, during the opening prayer, God was intentionally not invited to be present to us. Instead, we were reminded to be present to God. The point made was that God is always with us, but we must also be open to hearing him. As a priest friend reminds me, it is not going to be an audible response. It will be within your mind and your heart. He is with us, but we must be present to hear him.
It is sometimes hard to hear God amidst the stress and turmoil in our families, communities, government, and even in our Church. Yet, it is during these times of stress and uncertainty that we need most to listen to God. To reflect on what is truly important in this life and come to a closer relationship with our risen Lord.
Catholic schools exist to share in the joy of the Risen Christ and to teach students to listen to God and where he is calling them in life. They are forming young people to become the leaders of the Church and our world; forming them to be leaders with a morality grounded in the message of the Gospel; helping them listen to the call of the Lord and not the distractions of this world.
Some of us may not have had Easter Monday off as a vacation day, but as we continue to celebrate the Easter Season, let's try and be more like the students in our Catholic schools. Let's take a moment to be quiet and listen to God.
And remember, you still have a few more weeks to wish people a Happy Easter.
Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, www.CSFBoston.org.
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