In the unlikely event of your asking someone in the street “Which is the longest season of the Church’s year?”, they would probably respond by grabbing you by the collar and shouting for the nearest police officer. If they did reply, it would no doubt be along the lines of the man who was asked the difference between ignorance and apathy: “I don’t know, and I don’t care”.

On the other hand, if you were to put the same question to a congregation in church, I suspect that many would answer “Lent” – and they would be wrong.

Lent may seem to last forever: in fact, it is shorter than the season of Easter, which continues for seven weeks up to Pentecost. In other words, the season of rejoicing is longer than the season of penitence. Furthermore, every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection.

Pope John Paul II commented “We are the Easter people, and ‘Alleluia’ is our song”. That doesn’t mean that Christians have to wear fixed grins and badges instructing people to: “Smile! Jesus loves you”. That would be both naïve and insulting. Suffering is real, and we should not disrespect people, including ourselves, by pretending otherwise.

As Christians, we ARE the Easter people, but we are also the Advent people, the Garden of the Agony people, the Good Friday people.

We take suffering seriously, but we also know that it does not have the last word. Christ is risen, and Easter, ultimately, is eternal.

Written by Father Anthony Keefe, Chaplain to the Monastery of Our Lady of Hyning.

To share an insight about how your faith impacts your view of things, please contact: