Living Easter as a Parish

Shortly after I was ordained, I was asked to give a tour of our parish church to an interdenominational group.  A woman stopped me and asked, “Don’t Catholics believe in the resurrection of Jesus?” I assured that we not only believed, but that that doctrine is central to our understanding of salvation. 


At that, the woman pointed to the crucifix and added, “Then why do you still depict Jesus dying instead of having an empty cross?”


I admit that I was surprised by the woman’s assumption, but since then I have become grateful for her questioning. Having grown up Catholic and having looked at a lifetime of crucifixes, I had never found any contradiction in seeing Jesus on the Cross and believing that Jesus rose from the dead.

Living Easter as a Parish

Shortly after I was ordained, I was asked to give a tour of our parish church to an interdenominational group.  A woman stopped me and asked, “Don’t Catholics believe in the resurrection of Jesus?” I assured that we not only believed, but that that doctrine is central to our understanding of salvation. 

At that, the woman pointed to the crucifix and added, “Then why do you still depict Jesus dying instead of having an empty cross?”

I admit that I was surprised by the woman’s assumption, but since then I have become grateful for her questioning. Having grown up Catholic and having looked at a lifetime of crucifixes, I had never found any contradiction in seeing Jesus on the Cross and believing that Jesus rose from the dead.

How Do You Pray?

Daily Prayer Routines

Life makes many demands on today’s families, and lives are often full and hectic. Finding the time for prayer can seem difficult - especially if you aren’t sure where to begin or how to pray as a family.


Make a Plan


John Piper, in his book Desiring God, says that a main hindrance to prayer is our lack of planning:



"If you want to take a four-week vacation, you don't just get up one summer morning and say, 'Hey, let's go today!' You won't have anything ready. You won't know where to go. Nothing has been planned."



Take the time to create a plan for your own personal prayer life.  It doesn’t have to be rigidly followed, but can serve as a grounding reminder -- a thriving, regular, consistent time of worship of and communion with God in prayer.


Tools to Help


We have developed four tools to help you get started developing your personal prayer routine...

The Easter Bunny: Pagan Symbol or Christian Metaphor?

Cultural Symbols of Important Christian Holidays

Someone at work recently asked me if the Easter bunny still visits our house (our youngest is in third grade). I replied, “Our kids are pretty smart. They know when they have a good thing going, so they don’t ask unnecessary questions.”


In other words, we have an unspoken “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. While we don’t go over the top to encourage the fiction (such as the elf on a shelf nonsense), we also preserve it by hiding gifts and baskets.


We do our utmost to ensure that the most important realities of the Christian holidays are not overshadowed by these symbolic characters—our kids are crystal clear about what these Christian feasts mean for our faith and religious practice. The Easter bunny and Santa are obvious side-shows to our observance of Jesus’ birth, Death, and Resurrection.


We invest a lot of time and energy into Advent and Lent, so when Christmas and Easter come around, we are prepared to celebrate them properly and whole-heartedly. Those preparation seasons include more intensive moments of family prayer (10-15 minutes of quiet prayer individually each night before our normal night prayers), and intentional acts of almsgiving and fasting.  In comparison, visits by the Easter bunny and Santa Claus end up feeling like a nice metaphor.


Recently, I was caught writing clues for the scavenger hunt created by the Easter bunny to lead each child to their basket. The kids simply noted that they saw me writing clues, and left it at that. I was contemplating this and came to an important conclusion.

Lent: A Journey of Encounter

To build a culture of encounter, we must start from within ourselves, from our personal call to discipleship. God knows our true selves, desiring that we, too, discover the person God has called us to be. Through prayer, we encounter ourselves before God; we see ourselves as God sees us. And we realize that God delights in every member of our human family because God is truly present in each of us.


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Jesus reminds us, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:31). To love another, we must come to know our own selves, our own hurts and triumphs, our own joys and challenges. What begins as an interior encounter necessarily goes beyond ourselves, challenging us to live in solidarity with people we may never meet. How can we hope to go to the margins, to accompany those who are most vulnerable and in need, if we haven’t properly wrestled with our own vulnerability, our own need? Only then can we recognize that each person we encounter can share with us some unique insight about our world, about ourselves, and ultimately, about our God.

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  • Burning Hearts Disciples is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) and an Approved Lay Catholic Organization of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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