Churches are decorated and adorned in their unique styles. This is especially noticeable at Christmas and Easter. Some churches are overflowing with flowers on these big feasts while others are more subdued in the approach to festive decorations. The one thing I have noticed in recent years as I have placed more emphasis on this 50 day celebration of Easter is that flowers wilt and fade. Yesterday, on the Third Sunday of Easter, I noticed that we had about half the number of flowers adorning the sanctuary that we had at the Great Easter Vigil. Furthermore, the flowers that were remaining looked a little less festive than they did two weeks ago. If we do not replace the flowers with new ones, our sanctuary will be relatively bare next weekend as we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. Will the sanctuary remain bare for the rest of the Easter Season?
It costs money for flowers and I am all about being good stewards of what God has entrusted to our care. My question is one of timing and proportion. Would we be better off having less flowers at Easter so that we could afford to replace and replenish our sanctuary with fresh flowers through the entire Easter Season? Is the celebration of Easter about Easter Sunday, and possibly the Octave of Easter, but not really about the entire fifty days? Where should our priorities be placed when attending to the environment of the worship space?
I want to celebrate Easter well and prepare for the great feast at the end of the season. As we move toward the Solemnity of Pentecost I recall the words of Acts 2:42. "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." If we follow their example we are reminded of four simple things in that one verse.
We are a learning Church. We never stop delving into the teachings of the Sacred Scriptures and the magisterium of the Church. It is necessary for us to continue to grow in knowledge, wisdom, and grace. We are people of study to become better Christians. We aren't just studying to become academic professionals. We are studying to become more rooted in Christ's love.
We are a caring Church. We do not live our life of faith in isolation. We are joined together in fellowship. Are we taking time to truly be with one another in our walk of faith?
Catholics take the "breaking of bread" quite seriously. The Eucharist is the "source and summit" of our faith. Everything flows from the Eucharist and back to it. We are truly a body of believers joined together in profound worship. Once again, I encourage you to read chapter 6 of John's Gospel to be renewed in your love for the Eucharist.
Finally, we are people of prayer. Everything we do must begin in a spirit of prayer for this is what will empower us to grow in holiness ourselves. Then we are more fully equipped to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ to others. An evangelizing Church is living up to the mandate we received in Matthew's Gospel "to go out to all the world and tell the Good News."
Our attention to detail during these fifty days is important. We want to enter as fully as possible into the the paschal mystery recognizing that the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the story of our salvation. If we are not sensing the power of the resurrection when we enter into the celebration of the Eucharist during these days of Easter, there may be more missing than just the flowers.