Happy Easter

Dear Friends!

The Easter Vigil begins the celebration of the principal feast of the liturgical year which recapitulates the whole of salvation history; God’s redeeming work through the passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.   Pope St. Leo the Great (440-461) called Easter the “Festum festorum” or the “Feast of Feasts” or the “Greatest Feast”.   In the custom and tradition of the Church, the feast of Easter which begins the night of the Easter Vigil, carries on in an octave of solemn days of celebrations until the 2nd Sunday of Easter, now known as “Divine Mercy Sunday” as promulgated by Bl. Pope John Paul II.   

The Easter Season, traditionally called the “Paschal Tide” commemorates the Lord’s Resurrection, his triumph over sin and death, culminating after fifty days in the solemn feast of Pentecost (the name means “the fiftieth day”).  St. Luke testifies that time after the Lord’s resurrection until his Ascension was a period of forty days (cf. Acts 1:3), it would be another ten days before the arrival of the Advocate promised by Jesus.  In the Jewish custom the feast of Pentecost, which is also the day the Holy Spirit descended on the Blessed Mother and the Apostles, takes place exactly fifty days after the first Sabbath following the Passover, which is fifty days.  The Church has always celebrated these fifty days as the joyful feast of Easter, following the penitential forty days of Lent.   

Several characteristics mark this solemn season, the “Asperges” or the Sprinkling Rite, which normally takes the place of the Penitential Rite during the celebration of the Mass, serves as a reminder of the new life in the Church highlighting the Sacrament of Baptism, the first fruit of the Resurrection on the disciples of the Lord.    The neophytes (newly baptized) parallel the dying and rising of Christ within their own initiation into the Church.  The celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation, highlighted during this season, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist are the sacraments of life and growth in the Church.   Through these Sacraments the Christian lives the Easter mysteries within their own Christian life not just through these 50 days, but along with the Church throughout the entire liturgical year.   Echoes of Easter resound throughout the year, with feasts such as Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Triumph of the Cross, and Christmas.   In fact every Sunday is celebrated as an Easter Sunday.  

During Easter, the Angelus (prayed at every 6th hour) is replaced with the “Regina Coeli” the hymn that acknowledges Mary’s joy after the Lord’s resurrection.  These fifty days reveal the importance of Easter in the Church’s faith, for as St. Paul relates “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:14).   United to the whole Church, we raise our joyful praise to God the Father for raising Jesus, His Son from the dead and sing gloriously the hymn of the Church; “Alleluia, Christ is Alive!”

Fr. Vasquez 

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