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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

EASTER

 

HE HAS RISEN

 

The cross is empty now Jesus lies in the tomb and everything around us is still.’ The heavens and the earth cry out with longing for the sinless one who is not to be found, if we stop to think for a moment we remember that Jesus died and rose again on the third day. We wait, as mourners beside a grave, unsettled, ill at ease, almost not knowing what to do with ourselves. The Church has only one thing to do today: to pray through the emptiness of Holy Saturday. Holy Saturday then is the day when we experience watching and waiting at the tomb as we await the celebration of the Resurrection which we celebrate in the Easter Vigil and the season of Easter. The Jewish people have been celebrating Passover annually for thousands of years, commemorating the night in which God brought them out of slavery in Egypt to begin the journey to the promised land.

At the Last Supper, Jesus also celebrated the Passover but gave it a new meaning. No longer a remembrance of passing from slavery to freedom, but through his own passion, death and resurrection we too pass from death to life with him. Until the fourth century, Easter was the only feast of the Church’s year, and to this day it remains the most important. As the Catechism says: “Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the ‘Feast of feasts’, the ‘Solemnity of solemnities’.”

Every Sunday Eucharist echoes the Sunday of the Resurrection and Easter. It can seem that once Easter Sunday has passed Easter is finished, but the’ celebration continues for fifty days. The next Sunday of Easter day  is traditionally known as Low Sunday or Dominica in Albis (White Sunday) which refers to the white baptismal garment of the newly baptised. Divine Mercy Sunday is a new feast also celebrated on this day. This year it has the added significance because on this day Pope John 23rd and Pope John Paul the second will be canonized (made saints). Divine Mercy Sunday comes almost as an opportunity in which anyone who missed out on celebrating the mercy of Christ in Holy Week has another chance. After forty days we celebrate the feast of the Ascension of Christ who returns to the Father to send us the Holy Spirit.

We spend the nine days between the Ascension and Pentecost praying for the Spirit like Mary and the apostles in the Upper Room. On the fiftieth day (which is the literal meaning of the word “Pentecost”) Easter ends. On that day “Christ’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 731). Our celebration of Easter resonates throughout the rest of the year: full of gratitude for Christ’s passion, joy in his resurrection and, strengthened by the Spirit, we continue our Christian journey in faith hope and Joy.

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