Many of us think of January 1st as a day of new beginnings, but the real new beginning for us as believers is Easter. Lent and the Paschal Triduum is a transformative experience that not only forms us spiritually, but as writers. This year, Easter is a true “new beginning” for me as a writer, as I wrap up a major project and look towards beginning several new ones. But we can choose to allow Easter to shape our writing profoundly every year.
1) Easter directs our hearts to joy.
Pope Francis began his pontificate by inviting us to live in joy because we know Him in whom we have believed. Jesus reveals God’s great love for us in many ways, but nowhere more profoundly than in His Passion and Death and Resurrection. To know that we are loved and cherished, that Jesus desires us to be close to Him, that God’s plan for us is to bring us to a greater joy than we can even imagine–these are causes of great joy for us. Easter gives us the opportunity to focus on the joy of our lives as Catholics–the joys that we already possess (and sometimes forget about), and the promise of the greatest joy to come.
In a culture obsessed with negativity, scandal, and the seductive power of evil, our Easter joy can give a special “glow” to our writing.
2) Easter wakes us up to God’s surprises.
The women who came to the tomb did not expect the news of Jesus’ Resurrection. The Apostles were so shocked by the women’s news that most of them refused to believe what they said. They were still living the grief and fear of Jesus’ Passion and Death…and the last thing they expected that morning was the earth-quaking news that Jesus had risen from the dead.
God works in so many ways in our lives, but we often miss His saving presence. Many of us suffer from spiritual blindness or deafness: we don’t slow down to listen to the Spirit working within us; we don’t take time to pray and cultivate a genuine relationship with God. Fear also blinds and deafens us to the goodness or the possibilities for new life in the circumstances of our life. We don’t expect to see the Risen Lord, and so we mistake Him for the gardener and walk away… Instead, God wants to surprise us with His loving presence and an invitation to mission.
God can also surprise us in our writing. How often we start writing one thing and as we write, we are led in another direction. On a deep level, some part of us knows what we want to explore or say in our writing; or perhaps it’s not us, but inspiration. Easter can encourage us to follow the unexpected path that God opens for us in the “desert” of a first draft.
3) Easter infuses our writing with a perspective of faith.
The light of the Resurrection allows us to see our entire lives from the mountaintop of faith–the perspective of eternity. Jesus’ Resurrection enables us to begin to see our whole lives–and the course of history–from the perspective of God’s saving plan. If God could transform the suffering and death of His only Son into the glorious Resurrection, then how much more God can take our sufferings and transform them into new life for us and others?
As writers, we may wrestle with difficult subjects; our writing may need to shine a light on the darkness of evil so that it can be seen for what it is. But shining a light on something is not being swallowed up by it. As Catholics of faith, one of the gifts our writing can be to the world is to offer a “bigger” perspective, whatever our subject. A nonbeliever may not recognize it or call it faith, but the worldview supporting our writing cannot help but hint at faith. Our challenge as Catholic writers is to write artfully, in such a way that our faith-filled worldview is compelling and appealing.
May our writing this Easter season be filled with the newness of joy, with allowing God to take the lead, and with the perspective of faith.