Benedict Ratchford from the Animate Youth Ministries team reflects on the need to pause and give proper thought to the mysteries of the Easter season.
It says in Acts 2:24: 'But God raised him from death, setting him free from its power; because it was impossible that death should hold him prisoner.'
For all the power of this message, it can easily feel like Easter is long gone already, with the sight of chocolate eggs and little chicks in shop windows a distant memory. In the fast-paced world that we live in, it can be extremely difficult to find the time to stop and really contemplate the true joy of the Easter season.
From a personal perspective, a problem I often face when celebrating annual liturgical events like Easter is that I can sometimes lose that sense of wonder, joy and mystery.
I had a similar experience during Lent; it seemed I was just going through the motions. I was almost too comfortable with the season. It was only when I was sitting in the lounge one day and gazing on the crucifix that something struck me. How many times have I sat there and not even noticed or cared to look at Our Lord on the cross? As I sat and continued to ponder, it reinforced the message that God so loved the world, he gave his only son. This is something I say nearly daily in the work we do with various schools in the Archdiocese but how many times have I actually stopped and thought clearly about what this means?
We need to challenge ourselves more during these times of reflection and joy in the Church's year so that we may rediscover the wondrous things that God has done for us.
Soon it will be the Church's birthday, as we celebrate the feast of Pentecost – the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles in the upper room. I try to put myself into the shoes of those present: after witnessing a brutal crucifixion and the rising and ascension of Jesus into heaven, the apostles must have been stunned, amazed, but also filled with fear. Their leader had left them. Many despised the followers of Jesus. Yet now, suddenly they are filled with a new zeal which allows them to go forth into the world and preach.
The Holy Spirit is a force for so much in our lives. Sometimes, though, we can fail to notice the work of the Spirit on our life's journey. Maybe, at this time of Pentecost, we could ask for guidance so that we may too, like the apostles, find a new zeal, energy and desire to live out our faith.
This can be challenging but we must think of the liberties that we have compared with the time of the apostles who risked their lives to pass on the message of Christ. We should also bear in mind that too many people still suffer that same persecution today.
Therefore, I hope you have a blessed end to the Easter season and look forward to celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Please remember the Animate team in your prayers as we continue our ministry with the young people we work with.
• Animate's next Life & Soul evening is at St Bede's, Widnes on Tuesday 15 May (7–8pm).