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Celebrating the Easter Season, Part 4: Food

We fast for the forty days of Lent. It stands to reason that we should find ways to feast for the entire fifty days of the Easter season. Most people are pretty adept at enjoying the extravaganza of Easter Sunday with chocolates, jelly beans, even Peeps (which, as my grandmother taught me, are really only good for Peep Jousting), but what happens after the inevitable stomachache and the ensuing sadness that the Easter baskets are empty? How can we truly keep the Easter feast for fifty days? We can BAKE. As my lifelong love of creating delicious treats has been reignited of late by my being introduced to the joys of The Great British Baking Show (watch and revel—you’ll thank me later), it seems to me that baking is a fairly simple way for people to continue their celebration of the Easter for the entire season. By baking something once each week, you can sustain a sense of joy and newness throughout Easter, and if you’re concerned about your waistline, you can use this as an …

Celebrating the Easter Season, Part 3: Dads

In his book, Families and Faith: How Religion Is Passed Down Across Generations, Vern L. Bengston notes that a father who is actively involved in religious practice is more likely to have children who continue being involved in religious practice. For this reason, it is essential for the flourishing of the American Church that dads get involved in the religious lives of their children. Here are six practices that dads might do with their kids during Easter to help develop habits of faith in the home. 6) Take Your Children to the Zoo and Speak About Religious Imagery My son loves the zoo. We ride the carousel of sundry animals (often choosing the shark or dolphin for some unknown reason). We race down hills together. We run to see the lions, the monkeys, and the terrifying carp. For this reason, it wouldn’t take a lot to talk to your kids at the zoo about the link between the animals and the Catholic imagination. Deer are prominent in early Church mosaics because of Psalm 42, “As the …

Celebrating the Easter Season, Part 2: Education

Editors’ Note: This post is part of a series offering ways to keep the joy of Easter alive for the entire fifty days of the season. Read Part 1: Music here. As my students walked into the classroom this morning, I greeted them with an energetic “Happy Easter!” One of my students quickly turned and responded, “Why are you saying that? Easter was on Sunday.” As we chatted about it further, I learned that the students had just discussed in their religion class that Easter lasts for 50 days until the celebration of Pentecost. They talked with me about Jesus’ Resurrection, his appearances to the disciples, his Ascension, and the descent of the Holy Spirit. They knew the facts, but did not recognize that we were truly still celebrating Easter. Like the concepts in every class and at every age, the truth takes a little bit longer to settle in and take root than the facts do. So how can we help our students to realize that Easter is full season of joyful celebration in the rhythm …

Formation Like the Dewfall

“Haec ergo dona, quaesumus, Spiritus tui rore sanctifica,” “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall.” These words, prayed during Mass, at the time of the epiclesis – when the priest extends his hands invoking the Holy Spirit to consecrate the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, express the slow work of my formation. “Like the dewfall” are words that consistently capture my attention during the Eucharistic prayer, and I find myself echoing the prayer over and over again in my head, long after they escape the priest’s mouth, as if trying to retain the image forever, connecting my growing awareness of God’s love to the slow formative work of the dewfall. “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall.”  Dew is a mysterious substance, a film of moisture that appears when we wake to each new day, coating the ground we walk on. This coat of condensation is subtle, not overpowering, …

Celebrating the Easter Season, Part 1: Music

Here at Church Life Journal, we’ve had several conversations about the challenge of celebrating Easter for the entire the season, and we figure if we’re struggling to keep our Easter joy alive for fifty days, others probably are too. To that end, we’re offering several posts over the next two weeks with some ideas for sustaining a spirit of celebration throughout the Easter season. First, we’ve put together not one but two Spotify playlists to help people enter into the joy of the season through music, which is a key component of our liturgical life and our daily life (remembering of course that our liturgical life is meant to overflow into and transform our daily life). This music has been chosen for its ability to remind us that Christ is alive forever, that the darkness has been conquered, that “the sufferings of this present life are as nothing compared with the glory about to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18, NRSV), and that “if we have been united with [Jesus Christ] in a death like his, we will …

A Suffering Silence

The other day a friend asked I could go with her for her chemotherapy treatment. I had no idea what a lesson it would be for me in how to bear the Cross. She is in her late seventies, distinguished and “full of wisdom” as the Scriptures say, full of that astonishing capacity to quietly accept deep suffering which I often find in my older friends. When I arrived to her house, she was weak and short of breath so we didn’t say much on the ride over to the clinic. The nurse who welcomed us was kind and patient, explaining every step of the procedure and bringing warm blankets for my friend. At first, I didn’t know if she wanted me to chat with her or not, and she seemed so tired, that finally I realized she just wanted to rest as much as possible. There wasn’t much I could do to make her comfortable, nor much she asked for—it was simply a matter of me being attentive to her and waiting. She didn’t …

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Stories of Grace: Episode 14

“I am dust. I feel like dust, or at least, like I am worth as much. I can’t sleep, so I kneel beside my bed, close my eyes, and silently ask God, “Why me?” Visit here to listen to Notre Dame senior Leah Jacob tell the story of a grace of a God who longs to save us. Subscribe to the free Stories of Grace podcast on iTunes U and receive automatic notifications when a new story is published. The full text of Leah’s reflection is below. I am… COLD December 2013 I am cold and alone with the monsters in my head. They are whispering—always whispering. Reminding me I’m not good enough. Not small enough. Not skinny enough. It started when I walked into the dining hall on the first day of freshman year. Not wanting to put forth the effort to wait in line and explore the food options, I settled for a salad. A spinach salad, mind you, with plenty of other healthy additions like edamame and chick peas and carrots. A healthy …

The Filming of Outcasts: An Interview with the Producer

Joe Campo, founder of Brooklyn-based Grassroots Films, recently visited the University of Notre Dame for a screening of the independent film studio’s newest documentary, Outcasts. The hour-long documentary captures a close-up view of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and their work with the hungry, the dying, the addicted, and other individuals cast off from society. The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal were founded in 1987 with eight friars and have grown to a community of about 100 men. Campo has worked with the friars for several decades at the St. Francis House in Brooklyn where suffering young men can find stability and a new start in life. He began Grassroots Films in 2006 to provide members of the household with meaningful work. Outcasts was filmed over seven years in five countries—the United States, Ireland, England, Honduras and Nicaragua. It is the fourth documentary from Grassroots Films, also the creators of The Human Experience and Child 31. Screenings of Outcasts began in the summer of 2016. Campo, executive producer and co-director of the film, answered …

Summer Symposia 2017: Reading the Bible Liturgically

Among contemporary Catholic evangelization programs, you often hear about the importance of the Scriptures. You hear that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is mediated through our reading of the Bible both privately and in groups. But, it is often forgotten that the fullness of the Scriptures is made manifest within the context of the liturgy itself. As Pope Benedict writes in Verbum Domini: To understand the word of God, then, we need to appreciate and experience the essential meaning and value of the liturgical action. A faith-filled understanding of sacred Scripture must always refer back to the liturgy, in which the word of God is celebrated as a timely and living word (§52). We meet the person of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures as they are sung and proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Hours, in the Mass, and in the sacraments of the Church. We see these Scriptures interpreted in stained glass windows, in medieval manuscripts, in iconography, and in the lives of the saints. All Scriptural evangelization must at least implicitly take the liturgy as the …

Five Jesus Movies that Don’t Stink

Editorial Note: This post is a companion to Jesus in the Movies: Challenges of Cinematizing the Gospels, which describes the films below in greater detail and provides a theological analysis of the difficulties surrounding depictions of the life of Jesus Christ and the Gospel on film. As Holy Week approaches, channels such as AMC and Turner Classic Movies regularly roll out classic Jesus epics just in time for Easter. Movies about Jesus or the Gospel have often been accused (in many cases rightly) of being saccharine or cheesy. In an attempt to treat their subject with reverence, film-makers sometimes sentimentalize the Gospel message and present a Jesus as a soft moral teacher with magic tricks up his sleeves. Sometimes, however, artists create films that depict the Christ figure and Christ event with the strangeness and immediacy approaching those of the Gospels, and interpret their source material with grace and imagination. Here are five. 1. Jésus of Montreal (1989) A surprising and thought-provoking film, Jésus of Montreal blends together representing the Gospels and presenting the Jesus story through a post-figuration of …