Every year I feel guilty about how my fervor slacks during Easter Week. After the frenetic week of preparation and emotional intensity and the liturgical marathon of the Triduum and the social whirlwind of Easter itself, I deflate. I want to celebrate Easter joy with a prayer that is as intense, as filled with joy as it was after the vigil or on Easter Sunday morning. But the truth is that every year I find myself tired, sluggish from too much sugar, wanting to collapse into a flabby mess, knowing that I should want to pray and sing alleluia. But not really feeling it. Every year I tell myself it will be different this time. But here we are again.
It’s not unique to this year’s special stressors, but they certainly aren’t helping matters. Not at all.
Easter was actually very beautiful and uplifting. Though not, of course, untinged by sadness. We live-streamed the Mass on Holy Thursday, the Good Friday Liturgy of the Passion, and the Easter Vigil from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. The liturgies were all beautiful and it was lovely to pray with our cardinal-archbishop. Some people don’t really know their bishop, but we’ve been blessed to get to know him a little since Dom worked in the pastoral center for many years and we often still attend Mass there for holy days.
It was eerie and sad to see the empty cathedral, but spiritually I felt present as we watched. I know that for many people it feels flat, but for me while it’s not, of course, the same as actually getting to Mass, it’s also not nothing. In fact as I knelt on the office floor, making my spiritual communion at the Easter vigil, surrounded by my family, I felt incredibly loved, incredibly blessed. He is truly present to me, loving me, sustaining me.
I made a feast and we feasted. I began cooking on Thursday, making hot cross buns for Good Friday. On Good Friday I baked amaretti (Italian almond-cookies) and a fancy cranberry-orange breakfast bread stuffed with a cream cheese-almond paste filling. The filling oozed out and the bread collapsed, but it still tasted good. I suppose I shouldn’t wonder that I’d be tired if only by my three-day baking marathon.
On Holy Saturday we dyed eggs, as is our tradition, and I made my traditional challah cross and a ricotta cheese cake. I forgot to buy dye and the only food coloring we had on hand was one partial bottle of red. So we had the eastern-style red eggs that I’ve always sort of wished I could make. I listened to Bach’s St Matthew Passion and tried to pray for those who are sick and dying and hurting and all the brokenness of the world.
For our Easter dinner Dom grilled a small rack of lamb– it was very tender and we served it with a roasted red-pepper chutney. We also had some negimaki– beef pounded thin, wrapped around scallions, grilled and then served with a sweet soy sauce-based glaze. We had Greek roasted lemon potatoes, sweet potatoes, and asparagus as well as our favorite spicy grilled eggplant.
I got some confetti eggs at the local pharmacy and the kids had fun cracking them on each others’ heads– out on the patio, of course.
After dinner we did video chats with Dom’s family and mine and then I hid in my room with a book for a while. Which was actually rather nice, in a way, since usually we stay fairly late socializing with his family and I often don’t get to talk to my family at all. It was a slower-paced day and all in all a very good one.
But no matter what, it seems, post-Easter is a hard letdown. I’m tired out and everyone else is too. Wrung out, spent. But we’ve been singing our alleluias and Bella has been enjoying Morning and Evening Prayer with me and somehow today seems better than yesterday or Monday. Maybe getting outside for a hike yesterday helped.
Tomorrow I must brave the grocery store once more, stressful at the best of times. Now ten times more so.
I hope and pray that you have all had a very blessed Easter and that you may find unexpected joy surprising you during this Easter season.