This Easter season, as we are called to live out our baptism, we are encouraged to share our gratitude for the many blessings in our lives by helping others who are less fortunate.
I have fond childhood memories of attending Mass on Easter and returning home to baskets filled with chocolates, jellybeans and other Easter treats. Easter Sunday was a time of joy, family togetherness and a celebration of the fulfillment of our faith, honoring the day Christ conquered sin and death for the sake of all humanity.
This celebration isn’t limited to Easter Sunday — it is only the beginning!
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “The word ‘Easter’ comes from Old English, meaning simply the ‘East.’ The sun which rises in the East, bringing light, warmth, and hope, is a symbol for the Christian of the rising Christ, who is the true Light of the world.”
The Catholic Church celebrates the Easter season for 50 days, culminating on Pentecost Sunday when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles, Mary and other followers of Jesus. Easter is not only a season of grace, joy and thanksgiving but also a time when we are called to live out our baptismal promise to proclaim the Good News through word and deed — serving others in the example of Jesus Christ.
The Easter season celebrates the Resurrection of our King and the beginning of a new hope, taking what sin had broken and restoring beauty as God had always intended. The Resurrection encourages us to pursue God’s purpose in our lives and for the sake of others.
Families can celebrate this Easter promise by sharing Christ’s light with the poor. This can be accomplished by supporting Catholic bishops, priests, and religious and lay workers around the world who have dedicated their lives to blessing the poorest of the poor with material aid and spiritual guidance.
While there are many options to be a blessing this Easter season, here are three programs that can empower your family to live out the Corporal Works of Mercy this Easter season and beyond.
CRAFT FOR KIDS: Make Your Own Clean Water Pump
Sharing a meal is often an important element of family Easter celebrations, but we must also remember that approximately 815 million people globally suffer from chronic undernourishment, and addressing that need should be one of our priorities as Catholics. To address this need, Cross Catholic Outreach distributes millions of meals each year through a network of schools, orphanages, community-based feeding centers and local ministry partners in developing countries.
Your family can get involved by providing food and care to orphaned and vulnerable girls in Mozambique living at the Namaacha Girls’ Boarding Home operated by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. You can also fill the stomachs of children and families in Aquin, Haiti, an area still recovering from a devastating earthquake.
LEARN MORE: Fighting Hunger in Haiti and Around the World
Jesus thirsted on the cross, not only in the physical sense. He also thirsted for our love — and for us to compassionately share his sacrificial gift with the world. One of the ways we can accomplish this during the Easter season is to share clean drinking water with the estimated 780 million people who don’t have access to safe and sanitary water sources.
By supporting worldwide water initiatives, your family can protect children in developing countries from cholera and other dangerous waterborne diseases. Cross Catholic Outreach’s water projects are an incredible blessing to families in places such as Ghana, Malawi, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
The Easter season beckons all of us to make a home for Christ in our hearts. Tragically, at least 1.6 billion people worldwide live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. This includes homes built from sticks, mud bricks, and scraps of metal and plastic — tiny shacks that turn as hot as ovens on sunny days and fill with pools of water every time it rains.
Cross Catholic Outreach’s global housing program blesses families in places like the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima in Guatemala with safe, sturdy homes. These concrete-block homes include a thick cement foundation, a sturdy metal roof, and lockable doors and windows along with a clean-air stove, sanitary latrine and an exterior washbasin.
Learn more: Poor Nicaraguans Receive New Homes
Sacrifices made in love can change the world. More than 2,000 years ago, a perfect Sacrifice made on a cross forever changed the future for all humankind. The Easter season challenges us to follow Christ’s example by making small acts of sacrificial love. Beyond addressing urgent needs, these acts serve as a witness to the Gospel in the lives of those less fortunate.
When American Catholics give to address hunger, thirst and homelessness, we help families regain their hope for the future. This ensures that children and families have the capacity to overcome the challenges in their lives to embrace the joy of Christ’s Easter promise. I encourage you to put your faith into action this Easter season to bless our brothers and sisters in Christ’s holy name!