This year, all May is Eastertime

April 29, 2011

The Pastor's Page

Risen Christ Stained Glass

Risen Christ, St. Helen's in Milwaukee

There are thirty-one days in May, and this year because of the lateness of Easter, the entire month falls within the Easter Season. It is the fifty-day season from Easter to Pentecost, “The Great Feast,” a festival of weeks, seven weeks, seven sets of seven days, to commemorate and celebrate the greatest mystery of our faith, the Resurrection.

There are many indicators in the liturgy that Eastertime is special. The primary liturgical color is white, sometimes with gold as an optional color as trim, both which signify victory and glory, jubilation and exultation. The Glory to God and the Alleluia, both missing during Lent, are restored. The creed is replaced with a renewal of baptismal promises followed by a sprinkling rite. The Easter Candle, also known as the Paschal or Christ Candle, normally kept off to the side during other times of the year, is given a position of prominence in the sanctuary. The church is decorated with lilies and other brightly-colored flowers, all which symbolize joy and new life.

Two sacraments are featured during the Easter Season: Baptism and Eucharist. Baptism is highlighted to extend the celebration of the baptisms of the catechumens at the Easter Vigil, for the entire community to welcome the new members, and to celebrate the faith that all believers, new and old, hold in common. If possible, it is also desirable to celebrate infant baptisms within Sunday Mass during the Easter Season to give greater attention to the sacrament.

Eucharist is also given prominence during the Easter Season because it is one of the most important ways that the risen Christ continues his presence among us. For this reason, it is the ideal season to celebrate the reception of First Holy Communion.

Two books of the Bible are used extensively at Mass during the Easter Season: the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John. Acts is chosen because it tells the story of the early Christian community, an important place where the risen Christ can be found, because as Jesus promised, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20); and the Gospel of John because it emphasizes Christ’s divinity more than the other three.

Easter is the holy season when we celebrate the fact that Jesus is the true Lamb who has taken away the sins of the world. By dying, he destroyed our death; and by rising, he has restored our life. In Christ a new age has dawned, the long reign of sin is ended, and a broken world has been renewed. Alleluia!

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About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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