April 4, 2021
How is the date for Easter set?
Easter Sunday is always the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring equinox. Easter Sunday begins the annual fifty day period that celebrates the passion and resurrection of Christ and which ends on Pentecost Sunday.
Are Sunday and Easter related?
Easter is a very big Sunday!! Sunday has been called the Day of Light, the Day of Resurrection, the Eighth day – the first day of eternity. In the earliest Church there was only Sunday, the weekly celebration of the resurrection of Christ and the only day upon which the Eucharist was celebrated. Believers gathered each week to hear the word proclaimed and break the living bread of Christ together. Starting in the late second century there began a yearly celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ. It began as an all night vigil which included baptism and which ended with the celebration of the Eucharist at dawn on Sunday.
How did the Easter Season come to be?
The Easter season was understood since the second century as a fifty day season of joy. It was considered a single day, a great Sunday where fasting and kneeling were forbidden, the color white was worn, and the Alleluia sung. It was a celebration of the resurrection of Christ and the giving of the Spirit to the Church. For the newly baptized (baptized at the Easter Vigil) it was known as a time of mystagogia – a time to meditate on the meaning of the Gospel and the Paschal Mystery (the life, death and resurrection of Christ and our life therein).
What is the Paschal Mystery?
The Paschal Mystery is the life, death, and resurrection of Christ and our lives in that mystery. That is a very big mystery! And the early Church found it easier to understand if we focused on different parts of the mystery at different times of the year. Think of the Paschal Mystery as a diamond, over the course of the year we focus on different facets of this mystery. For example: at Advent and Christmas we focus on the second coming and the birth of Jesus, at Easter we focus on the resurrection of Christ. But even though we may focus on one aspect or another we are always and everywhere celebrating the fullness of the mystery of Christ.
What are we celebrating at Easter?
In a word, hope! Jesus preached the coming of the Kingdom of God. His ministry was focused on this. Through our baptism we are called to help build the Kingdom and we do this by following the Gospel. To live as Christ lived, to do as Christ did: treat others with compassion, forgiveness and love, giving ourselves away to those who are in need. To live thus is to bring the Kingdom to fruition, and to build hope that what the Father did for Christ the Father will do for us. Christ’s resurrection is a sign that the Kingdom has begun, it gives us deep hope that we share in this reality, death has no more power over us, we too will be raised.