Easter: Through the Octave and Beyond!
Easter is more than a day, it is a seaon of resurrection
While Easter is a Solemnity and an Octave Feast, it is also a 50-day journey until Pentecost. We continue to remember his resurrection with special devotion. Saint Augustine shares this perspective: "The season before Easter signifies the troubles in which we live here and now, while the time after Easter, which we are celebrating at present, signifies the happiness that will be ours in the future."
This particularly struck me as a convert from Protestantism where, in many denominations and independent churches, Lent is ignored, Good Friday minimized and Easter is a huge celebration often preceded by Cantata season, when the choir presents a special dramatized account of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.
Even the least liturgically oriented churches implement a time of response at the beginning of the Easter service, shouting "Alleluia! He is risen!" The congregation responds back enthusiastically "He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!"
For many Protestants, Easter is over after the Sunday service. On Monday, it is back to regular routine; one could say they have entered back into ordinary time.
As Catholics, however, we're not finished. We have the eight days - the Octave Easter. For example, in the Office of Morning Prayer the psalms for Easter Sunday are recited each day. We have eight Easters, ending with Divine Mercy Sunday.
While Easter is a Solemnity and an Octave Feast, it is also a 50-day journey until Pentecost. We continue to remember his resurrection with special devotion. But why focus on Easter as a season? Isn't every Sunday a "little Easter?" Don't we commemorate his passion, death and resurrection every day of the year?
Saint Augustine shares this perspective: "The season before Easter signifies the troubles in which we live here and now, while the time after Easter which we are celebrating at present signifies the happiness that will be ours in the future.
"What we commemorate before Easter is what we experience in this life; what we celebrate after Easter points to something we do not yet possess."
The Season of Easter is not just about His resurrection but ours. St. Maximus of Turin wrote in the 5th Century, "Christ is risen! He has burst open the gates of hell and let the dead go free; he has renewed the earth through the members of his Church now born again in baptism, and has made it blossom afresh with men brought back to life.
"His Holy Spirit has unlocked the doors of heaven, which stand wide open to receive those who rise up from the earth."
How much time do we really spend meditating on or contemplating heaven? Have we read much on the subject? How about the resurrection of the body?
I know that now, as I get older, heaven is taking on a more important aspect in my life. With my "second half of life" growing shorter, I think more about eternity and heaven. Every time my knees creek and my back hurts, I'm thankful that there can come a day when I will have a resurrected body. This is our Easter hope!
Heaven is not just a place where our souls will float around in some kind of nirvana. The Catechism states, "God will definitely grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls. All will rise: 'Those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment' (Jn 5:29)."
During the season of Easter our particular focus is on a hope beyond this world - a hope that is a great equalizer for those who are infirm or healthy, rich or poor. It is a hope that transcends our current situation with the hope of something better. and eternal!
Anthony DeStefano, in his book "Travel Guide to Heaven" says that any discussion of heaven needs to include fun. "It's a place of unlimited pleasure, unlimited happiness and unlimited joy!"
Now, that's worth think about, worth celebrating and worth telling others.
In the year's Easter Vigil, Pope Benedict declared, "At Easter, on the morning of the first day of the week, God said once again: 'Let there be light.'
"The night on the Mount of Olives, the solar eclipse of Jesus' passion and death, the night of the grave had all passed. Now it is the first day once again - creation is beginning anew. 'Let there be light,' says God, 'and there was light:' Jesus rises from the grave. Life is stronger than death. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies.
"The darkness of the previous days is driven away the moment Jesus rises from the grave and himself becomes God's pure light. But this applies not only to him, not only to the darkness of those days. With the resurrection of Jesus, light itself is created anew. He draws all of us after him into the new light of the resurrection and he conquers all darkness. He is God's new day, new for all of us."
As we now journey the 50 days to Pentecost, we are walking in the new light - the light of new creation which we each experience through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We don't have to live out as those who have no hope. Our hope is fixed, our pathway is lit and our voyage is refreshed by resurrection's sun and again underway.
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- When Did We See You Hungry? Lent and the Love of Preference for the Poor
- Courageous Cardinal George Challenges Us to Use Lent as a Time to Take Stock of Our Lives
- Led by the Spirit into the Desert: God Does Not Need Lent, We Do
- Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting: The Three Pillars of Lent
- Contemplatives in the World: Learning to Pray During the Forty Days of Lent
- Ash Wednesday: Turn Away From Sin and Turn Toward the Lord
- Deacon Fred Bartels: Ash Wednesday As a Moment of Decision
- Fr Dwight Longenecker on the Practical Practice of Fasting
- Fr Randy Sly: 'Fat Tuesday' - Mardi Gras Meant to Be More than a Party
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Deacon Keith Fournier - Catholic Online, 3/11/2014
Lent 2014 brings the death and resurrection of the Lord more insistently into the horizon of our lives. Before the Lord, we are all weak and needy, poor in who we are, rich in him. Grateful for ...Continue Reading
Deacon Keith Fournier - Catholic Online, 3/11/2014
The option or love of preference for the poor. This is an option or a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity to which the whole tradition of the church bears witness. It ...Continue Reading
Deacon Keith Fournier - Catholic Online, 3/10/2014
This ancient practice of setting aside 40 days in order to enter - in Jesus - into the desert places in our own daily lives and confront the temptations and struggles we face - is a gift. It ...Continue Reading
Wendy C. RN., BA. - Catholic Online, 3/8/2014
'Give alms...Pray to your Father...Fast without a gloomy face...' (Matthew 6:1-18) LOS ANGELES, CA - Giving alms, Jesus teaches, means making the needs of others our own, especially the needy of our ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »