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After the Fast
The Feast After the Fast
The Easter After Lent (and The Eid after Ramadan)
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
We hear this greeting on Easter Sunday, the first day of the fifty-day season the Roman Catholic Church is currently in. We also hear the more commercial greeting, "Happy Easter!", a greeting that brings us joy and gladness, a greeting that gives us a reason to rejoice. After all, the resurrection of Christ, the very event that we celebrate during Easter, is one of the key teachings of the Christian Church.
Easter begins as Lent, the forty days of fasting, penitence, prayer, repentance and almsgiving, ends. Easter is a joyous celebration that comes after the solemn commemoration of Christ's passion and death. We have Easter because we know that death is not the end for Christ and because we believe that death is not the end of us.
Though possibly doctrinally different, we can compare the duo of the feast of Easter and the fast of Lent to the duo of the feast of Eid ul-Fitr and the fast of Ramadan. The Islamic month of Ramadan is a month of prayer, charity and fasting (one that is probably more intense than those done by Christians during Lent). This culminates in the Eid ul-Fitr, probably the most important feast for the Muslims, in celebration of the completion of their fast. Fasting is, in fact, prohibited on the day of Eid ul-Fitr.
In both Christian and Muslim traditions, the fasting and the personal reflection and prayers serve as a good preparation for the celebration of the greatest feast of the faith. The fasting, abstinence and prayers served as means to know more about one's self and God, and to become closer to our conscience and to God.
For Christians, looking within us should be a spring board for us to look around us and to reach out to the people around us as Jesus commissioned His disciples and the Church weeks after Easter.
Nevertheless, the commercialization and secularization of such celebrations as Easter and Eid ul-Fitr had led to a degradation of these celebrations in such a way that all the prayers that accompanied the fasting during the season preceding these feasts are brought to naught when the day of the feast comes. After all, many Catholics would admit that after all the fasting, prayers and reflections done during the season of Lent, they would find themselves back to their old self after the joys of Easter had become normal.
Just think of it this way: God is probably happy with the return of the prodigal sons and the finding of the lost sheep during Lent. But this happiness had soon turned to sadness as the prodigal sons and lost sheep find a way to be lost again during a season that is supposed to be a season of joy.
What we should probably do when Easter (or Eid ul-Fitr) comes is to celebrate the joys of the season that ends the sadness of the preceding season, but remain as vigilant as we used to be during Lent (or Ramadan) so that we do not go back to our old naughty selves, so that we can master ourselves further and respond to the mission that God entrusts to His Church, as it should really be.