By Cameron Popik
What is this season of Resurrection? What does it mean for my day to day life? I’m embarrassed to acknowledge that I don’t truly understand what the season of Easter means for me, as an individual. Is it just a remembrance of an event 2,000 years ago? Or, is it a call to deeper conversion?
I love the season of Lent; it is easy to understand suffering and penance because we are surrounded by it. Everywhere I turn, I see the world suffering and reaching out for God’s love and mercy. However, I guess I’ve never understood the connection with the Easter season, as it applies to my personal life. Don’t get me wrong, I love celebrations. Easter is always a day of celebrating with family and friends. But then the day passes, the Easter cheese is gone and I get on with things. Easter seems like a celebration of an anniversary rather than the Paschal Mystery, an event I am unified with Christ in. The Paschal Mystery is the process of dying and rising, death and new life. Lent is an easy connection to make; I suffer some penance for 40 days as part of the process of dying to myself while at the same time remembering Christ’s time of preparation in the desert. Easter is not as clear to me. What do I need to do to have new life?
The last few weeks, a couple of my seminarian brothers and I have been doing the 33 Days to Merciful Love retreat; a self-lead retreat written by Fr Michael Gaitley. I think that my reflections on this have helped me come to a better understanding of the Resurrection and what the Resurrection looks like in my life during this particular Easter season. Resurrection comes about when I pour out my ‘old life’ like my finite desires, my attachments, my influences and allow God to fill me with new life; infinite love and mercy. Fr Gaitley, writing on St Therese’s Little Way, presents how it is often as simple as recognizing the insufficiency of what I have and can do on my own, laying it down and allowing God to fill me with what He has; new life.
I often feel like I have an internal conflict; a conflict between my will, my preferred decision, my attachments in juxtaposition with what the Holy Spirit is trying to convey to me through my conscience. No sooner do I take a given dilemma to the chapel, the Holy Spirit untangles my personal desires with the best way to go about it, and I leave the Chapel with the burden relieved. Why do I only do this in extreme situations when I'm at my wits end? If I want to feel the full effect of the Resurrection, I need to do this in the little things as well. Laying down my life, as Fr Gaitley and St Therese encourage, releases me from that internal conflict. I’m free from my finite desires and free to accept infinite desires.
Christ is the prototype; we, as Christians, are called to emulate Christ. Christ emptied himself of all His desires, “Father, let not my will be done, but Yours.” Christ didn’t pick and choose which burdens to give to His Father; He completely emptied himself. During Lent, I “gave up” some things as an outward sign of giving, for the inward reality of giving my life over to the Father. During this ongoing process of giving to the Father, the Father gives new life to us in return. In my various decisions, whether great or small, when I give the reins over to God, I’m free from the internal conflict. I’m free from my ‘old life’ of needing constant control and instead I have new life. I’m free from having to weigh the options and instead can freely follow the gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit. I’m free from worrying and instead I can trust in God. Psalm 119:45 says “I shall walk in the path of freedom, for I seek your precepts.” In seeking God’s precepts, in emulating Christ, there is freedom. This is cause for great joy and celebration! During this Easter season, as God extends new life to us, my prayer is for each of us to let go of our attachments so that we may be truly resurrected. Happy Easter!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cameron is a second year pre-theologian at Saint Mary Seminary in Cleveland. He can be found on any given Saturday morning, coffee in hand, watching the English Premier League. When soccer is unavailable, Cameron enjoys spending time with his family, rooting for Cleveland and celebrating life. His short-term goals usually involve some kind of adventure. His long-term goal is an ongoing conversion to the cross.
"To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him the greatest achievement."