Celebrating the Easter Season

Easter is the celebration of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead, culminating in his Ascension to the Father and sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. There are 50 days of Easter from the first Sunday to Pentecost. It is characterized, above all, by the joy of glorified life and the victory over death, expressed most fully in the great resounding cry of the Christian:  Alleluia! All faith flows from faith in the resurrection:” If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, is your faith.” (1 Cor 15:14)

The first eight days of Easter Time constitute the Octave of Easter and are celebrated as Solemnities of the Lord.  It is a way of prolonging the joy of the initial day.In a sense, every day of the Octave is like a little Sunday.

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 Paschal Candle is a central symbol of this divine light, which is Christ. It is kept near the ambo throughout Easter Time, and lit for all liturgical celebrations.

The fifty days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated in joy and exultation as one feast day, indeed as one “great Sunday.” These are the days above all others in which the Alleluia is sung.

The Sundays of this time of year are considered to be Sundays of Easter and are called, after Easter Sunday itself, the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Sundays of Easter. This sacred period of fifty days concludes with Pentecost Sunday.  On the fortieth day after Easter the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated, except where, not being observed as a Holyday of Obligation, it has been assigned to the Seventh Sunday of Easter (cf. no. 7).

The weekdays from the Ascension up to and including the Saturday before Pentecost prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.