A few years ago an Orthodox friend of ours went shopping with a Jewish friend on a Sunday. They were both surprised to find all the stores closed. How had they not noticed that it was western Easter that day?
Actually, it's getting easier and easier not to notice.
The Christian calendar moves this day around within a range of about 28 days each year. Why that is, and why it doesn't always line up with Passover or Orthodox Easter, is a somewhat more complicated story. But that's a different post.
What is startling to me is how much more driven all of us are with each passing year by calendars other than liturgical ones. Our far-flung families have already driven people to "have Christmas" on whatever wintry day they can manage to gather everyone. Fewer and fewer retail establishments manage to close for an entire day on any day of the year, much less one as narrowly observed as western Christian Easter. School districts generally pick whatever week falls more or less mid-term for their spring break, regardless of what religious holidays might fall or not fall during that time. Even death -- that event that we cannot schedule -- is less likely to make us interrupt our carefully planned work and leisure plans. Thanks to cremation, families can schedule a funeral whenever it is most convenient for everyone.
It gets harder and harder, in this culture where time is precious but rarely conceived as holy, to just stop and gather collectively around the greatest mysteries of our existence.
You won't find me complaining during Holy Week about the workload. This is, in fact, the center point of my vocation, not an "extra" placed on top of other duties. It's a relief to know with certainty that inviting others into gathering around Jesus' death and resurrection, and to lead them in pondering these mysteries, is exactly what I should be doing.
I only wish it were easier for others, who don't have the luxury of a life built around this vocation, to give themselves permission to stop. Gather. Listen. Rejoice.