What is Easter?
March 31, 2024 - May 19, 2024
Easter Sunday | March 31
Divine Mercy | April 7
Good Shepherd | April 21
World Day of Prayer for Vocations | April 21
May the Month of Marian Devotions
Ascension Thursday | May 9 (celebrated May 12)
Pentecost | May 19
The Easter Vigil is the "Mother of All Vigils." Easter Sunday, then, is the greatest of all Sundays, and Easter Time is the most important of all liturgical times. 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 octave of Easter comprises the eight days which stretch from the first to the second Sunday. 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.
Divine Mercy Sunday
Mankind’s need for the message of Divine Mercy took on dire urgency in the twentieth century, when civilization began to experience an “eclipse of the sense of God,” and therefore, to lose the understanding of the sanctity and inherent dignity of human life. In 1931, Jesus appeared to Sr. Faustina in Poland and expressed his desire for a feast celebrating his mercy. The Feast of Mercy was to be on the Sunday after Easter and was to include a public blessing and liturgical veneration of His image with the inscription “Jesus, I trust in You.”
This promise of mercy has been affirmed by the Church, which has made Divine Mercy Sunday an occasion for receiving a plenary indulgence, “the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sin whose guilt has already been forgiven” (CCC, no. 1471). The plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful under the usual conditions (Confession, Eucharist, prayer for the intentions of the pope, and complete detachment from sin, even venial sin). The faithful may either take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy in any church or chapel or recite the Our Father and Creed in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus.There are many aspects of the Divine Mercy devotion, including the Chaplet, the Divine Mercy image, and the “hour of great mercy” (3:00 p.m.). The popularity of these devotions, focused on the Lord’s infinite mercy, has grown rapidly in recent decades. Regarding the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus said to her, “At the hour of their death, I defend as My own glory every soul that will say this chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person “ (Divine Mercy in My Soul, no. 811).
The Paschal Mystery culminates in the Ascension of Jesus. After his appearance here on earth in his risen body, and “after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen” (Acts 1:2), Jesus “was lifted up and a cloud took him from their sight” (Acts 1:9)
Pentecost marks the occasion of God sending the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples after his Resurrection. The book of Acts describes how the disciples were gathered together in one place on the day of Pentecost. The Jewish feast of Pentecost (Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks) was a day that commemorated the giving of the law to Moses, a day soon to be marked as well by the giving of the Holy Spirit. The day of Pentecost was a turning point for the disciples.
On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the strength to fulfill their commission to spread the Good News of Jesus. The Church marks this day through a special liturgical celebration.
The Solemnity of Pentecost, which crowns and fulfills the Easter season, is a good time to pray for a deeper indwelling of the Holy Spirit.