Christ is risen, Alleluia! We have entered the Easter season after our time in the desert of Lent. After our 40 days of preparation, prayer, penance, fasting, and almsgiving, we have come to a season of feasting, celebration, and joy. It can be tempting, sometimes, to focus on the very real, and very clear distinctions and differences between these two seasons, and that’s fair, but I think we can often overlook the interconnectedness of these seasons. Like so many things, these supposed opposites are not in really in opposition to each other, but rather, they bring clarity and meaning to each other.
We appreciate and enjoy the feast because we have known the fast. The fast, the decision to go without in a spirit of penance and prayer, fosters a spirit of genuine appreciation and gratitude for the things we can so easily take for granted. Furthermore, it reminds us of the difference between the things we want and the things we actually need. By going without some of our daily comforts and conveniences, we bring the basics of our lives to the forefront instead of the background of our thoughts. Similarly, our prayer, almsgiving, and acts of penance all serve to focus us back on the essentials of our lives and on meeting those needs in the lives of others.
The reverse is also true, though. Our fasts are made more meaningful and impactful precisely because we experience the feasts. It is more difficult, and so more beneficial, for us to make a sacrifice when we realize exactly what it is we are doing without. It is also in the feast, after having experienced the fast, that we are able to renew our appreciation for the bounty given. The truth is, if we combine the lessons of the fast and the feast, we are able to genuinely live and experience the gifts we are given. Enjoy the feasts of this Easter season in the spirit of gratitude and generosity learned during the fasts of Lent!