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Easter Season
April 4 - May 23
Easter: Octave of Joy, Season of Victory
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!
The octave of Easter comprises the eight days which stretch from Easter 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.
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Events
Divine Mercy Sunday
April 11
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.”
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.). 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 Ascension of Jesus
Thursday, May 13
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).
Christ’s ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11). . . . Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him forever. Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (CCC, nos. 665-667)
Pentecost
Sunday, May 23
On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the strength to fulfill their commission to spread the Good News of Jesus. After Pentecost they had the courage to come out of hiding and speak openly about who Jesus was and what he had accomplished by his dying and rising.
The Solemnity of Pentecost, on the fiftieth day of Easter, concludes the Easter season. In recent years, the Church has restored the extended vigil for this solemnity. At the conclusion of the Mass during the Day, the Paschal Candle is extinguished and moved to its permanent location near the baptismal font. The Solemnity of Pentecost crowns and fulfills the Easter season.