Tag Archives: Easter Season

The Easter Season

April 6, 2018

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Resurrection of JesusFifty Holy Days. The Easter Season is the Great Fifty Days from Easter to Pentecost. It is a week of weeks, seven sevens, 49 days, plus a fiftieth. The first forty days commemorate the time between the Resurrection and the Ascension (see Acts 1:3), and the last ten days commemorate the time from the Ascension to the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the first Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).

Jewish Roots. Passover and Pentecost are two of the three great Jewish pilgrimage feasts, and the time between them is a Festival of Weeks, 49 days, with the fiftieth, the feast of Pentecost.

Easter Week. The first week after Easter is called the Octave of Easter. It is the eight-day period from Easter Sunday to the Second Sunday of Easter. The Resurrection is the single greatest Christian feast, and our entire faith hinges on this mystery as St. Paul so eloquently explained: “If Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (1 Cor 15:14). But Jesus has been raised! This makes Easter our preeminent time of jubilant exultation, so tremendous that it cannot be adequately observed in a single day. The Octave is a time of intense rejoicing, followed by six more weeks of continuing festivity.

Signs of Easter. The Easter, Paschal, or Christ candle is moved to a prominent place in the church for the entire Easter season, usually somewhere in the sanctuary, as a sign of the risen Christ. The vestments are white, sometimes accented with gold trim, symbols of victory and joy. The Gloria or Glory to God and the gospel Alleluia which were suspended during Lent are restored. The Creed may be replaced with the renewal of baptismal promises. There may be a Sprinkling Rite to recall the sacrament of Baptism. A double Alleluia is added to the dismissal.

Easter Sacraments. Baptism and Eucharist are the featured sacraments of the Easter Season. Infant baptisms are encouraged within the Sunday Masses of the Easter Season. It is also the preferred time to celebrate First Holy Communion. Parishes that have movable or portable baptismal fonts may transfer the font to a more conspicuous location.

Easter Scripture Texts. The first reading for every Sunday and weekday Mass throughout the Easter season is taken from the Acts of the Apostles, a forceful statement that Jesus, raised and ascended to heaven, continues to be present and is powerfully active within the community of believers. The second reading on Easter Sundays is taken from the New Testament, in Year A from the First Letter of Peter, in Year B from the First Letter of John, and in Year C from the Book of Revelation. All of the gospel texts for the Easter Season are taken from John except for the Third Sunday of Years A and B, and the Ascension.

Ways to Prolong the Easter Celebration. The Lenten fast is over, so rejoice with special meals or treats. The purple or violet of Lent is replaced by the white and gold of Easter, so wear brightly colored clothing to show your joyful spirit, and decorate with lilies and other flowers. The somber readings of Lent that dwell on penance and the Passion are over, so rejoice by reading the scriptural accounts of the Resurrection and post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, as well as the founding of the early Christian community in the Acts of the Apostles. Those who were candidates for the Easter sacraments have been welcomed into the Church, so maintain contact with them and help them strengthen their bond with the parish community. As Jesus demonstrated in his post-resurrection appearances at Emmaus (Lk 24:30) and along the Sea of Galilee (Jn 21:9,13), he is present in the breaking of the bread, so in order to experience the risen Christ we should attend Mass each Sunday, and if possible, some weekdays, too, to receive our risen Lord in the Eucharist.

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The Easter Season

April 1, 2016

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EasterCandleLength.  The Easter Season is fifty days, not forty days, like Lent, or four weeks or slightly less, like Advent.  The Easter Season extends from Easter Sunday to Pentecost.  It is sometimes known as the “Festival of Weeks,” seven weeks of seven days (49 days), plus one, the fiftieth day, Pentecost.

The Octave of Easter.  The first eight days of the Easter Season are known as the Octave of Easter.  Easter is the greatest Christian feast, so great, in fact, that it cannot be celebrated adequately on a single one day.  All eight days from Easter Sunday to the Second Sunday of Easter are considered solemnities, the Church’s highest ranking feast, and each day is celebrated with festivity and joy.

The Easter Novena.  The last nine days of the Easter Season extend from Ascension Thursday to Pentecost Sunday, a novem, Latin for “nine.”  Jesus instructed his disciples “not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait … [because] in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4,5).  The nine days from Ascension to Pentecost are a novena, a period of prayer before the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The Easter Liturgical Color.  The liturgical color for the Easter Season is white.  Gold is not a liturgical color, but it may be used to accent the white.  Together, they are symbols of joy and glory, as well as the Resurrection.

The Easter Liturgical Word.  The special word for the Easter Season is Alleluia.  It is used for the dismissal from Mass, and it is added to the antiphons and responses for the Liturgy of the Hours.  It is only found in the Book of Revelation (19:1,3,4,6), and it is an exclamation of great joy that means “Praise God!” the sentiment of the Easter Season.

Easter Eating.  The self-denial of Lent is set aside during the Easter Season.  It is not a time of fasting, but rather a season of celebration, a time for “a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines” (Is 25:6).  Jesus once said that “As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast” (Mk 2:19b), and because Jesus was with his disciples for forty days from his Resurrection to his Ascension (Acts 1;3), it was not a time of fasting then, and so it is not a time of fasting now.

The Major Easter Symbol.  The foremost symbol of Easter is the Christ Candle, also known as the Easter Candle or the Paschal Candle.  It represents the Risen Christ who is the Light of the World (Jn 8:12; see also 1:4-5,9  and 12:46).  The candle is given a prominent location during the Easter Season, usually in the sanctuary or somewhere in the front of the church, and after Pentecost it is moved back to its usual place.

The Easter Sacraments.  The Easter Sacraments are the Sacraments of Initiation:  Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.  Because these sacraments are celebrated at the Easter Vigil when catechumens and candidates are welcomed into the Church, they are also featured throughout the Easter Season.  It is the preferred season to celebrate Baptisms within Sunday Mass, and the ideal time to celebrate First Holy Communion as well as Confirmation.

Easter Scripture Texts.  The gospels of the Easter Season focus on the appearances of Jesus after his Resurrection, near his tomb, in the Upper Room, on the road to Emmaus, and along the Sea of Galilee. The featured New Testament book throughout the Easter Season for both the first reading on Sundays and every weekday is the Acts of the Apostles, a powerful statement that the risen Christ remains alive and well within the Christian Community.  The second readings on the Sundays of Easter are taken from the first letter of Peter in Year A, the first letter of John in Year B, and the Book of Revelation in Year C.

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