Surprise, it’s Still Easter!

2012-04-16 by . 2 comments

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I’m writing this in the middle of March, so Alleluia’s and Gloria’s and Resurrections and Ascensions are the just pie in the sky nonsense and me and my billion strong Catholic cohort are lumbering through the lonely days of Lent, eagerly awaiting the promise of new life that comes at Easter.

What is Easter to a Catholic?

  • It is a relief from the self-imposed and ecclesiastically imposed mandates of Lent.
  • It is the end of the intensity of Holy Week
  • It is the celebration commemorating Christ’s glorified walk with us.
  • It is the time to mark the coming of the Holy Spirit on Our Lady and the Apostles and the beginning of the Church.

Moreover, it is a time to rejoice in the fact that even though Jesus rose into Heaven, He has left us a Helper, built us a Church and given us His mother.

If you’re not a Christian or not one of us who uses a fancy liturgical calendar then you may think that

My First Easter - Tomie DePaola

Easter Bunny

is the holiday after

The Giant of Knockmany Hill - Tomie DePaola

Not St. Patrick

which happened a few weeks ago and is gone until next year.  But, just as Christmas day is the beginning of the Christmas season, Easter Sunday is the beginning of the Easter Season. Likewise, both events are the ends of their respective seasons of preparation (Advent and Lent); seasons of joy after seasons of penitence.

After being on Christianity.SE for a while (only the robots signed up for the beta before me) I know I’m writing mainly to my Christian brothers who haven’t given much thought or may even be disdainful of marking times and seasons.  So, since I know I’m not writing to many Catholics who would find this extremely boring.  I’ll give the short version of the Lent/Easter season and you can tell me how boring it is, seen through a new pair of eyes.

As the calculation for Easter Sunday changes every year, I’ll just use this year’s calendar to highlight the principle feasts, solemnities and other observances.

February-March-April 2012
S M T W Th F S
22f/a 23 24a 25
22Ash Wednesday
Fast and abstain from meat; Mass with ashes of last year’s Palm Sunday palm branches
26 27 28 29 1 2a 3
4 5 6 7 8 9a 10
11 12 13 14 15 16a 17
18 19 20 21 22 23a 24
18Laetare Sunday
Marks the middle of Lent;
special signs of joy permitted
19St. Joseph
Feast honoring the foster father of God, St. Joseph; Holy Day of Obligation in Spain
25 26 27 28 29 30a 31 25(26)Solemnity of the AnnunciationFeast honoring the conception of Jesus within the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary; transferred to the 26th because it fell on a Sunday
1 2 3 4 5 6f/a 7
1Palm Sunday of Our Lord’s Passion
Sunday Mass begins with palm branches and a remembrance of Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem. Gospel is the entire Passion narrative of the year’s Gospel.
3Chrism Mass
Lucky members of parishes in dioceses throughout the world will gather to receive sacred chrism, oil of Catechumens and oil of the sick blessed by the Bishop .
Technically night prayer (Matins) on any of the last three days of Holy Week (i.e. Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday). But in my diocese of Madison, there is a special tenebrae service on Wednesday and ya’ll are invited.
5Holy Thursday
With Mass starting in the evening, Lent officially ends and the triduum (three days) begins. The Mass usually recollects the Lord’s Supper and ends on a somber note with silence and the altar being stripped and Jesus being removed from our midst in the tabernacle for the faithful to keep vigil with Him overnight
6Good Friday of our Lord’s Passion
The service is a continuation of the Holy Thursday Mass; but today, throughout the world is the only day there is no Mass celebrated. John’s Passion narrative is read at a service in the early afternoon and the faithful are invited to venerate the cross

Veneration of the Cross

7Holy Saturday
Easter begins at sundown on Holy Saturday night, when the Pascal candle is lit and passed to all the faithful assembled. This is the night when adults are often brought in to the Church through Baptism and Confirmation. This is the night when there are 7 Old Testament readings (instead of the normal 1). This is the night where “this is the night” is said a lot.
8Easter Sunday
Alleluia, more on this later…

So that’s how Catholics warm up to celebrate Easter. We all have our own traditions; our own cuts of meat we prefer. But as a whole, it’s the liturgical celebrations that bind us all together. Unfortunately, in this American’s experience, we don’t properly know how to celebrate Easter. The priest wears his white duds, the Easter flowers wilt and are composted, the decor of the physical church remains pretty paschal (or was it pastel). But the body that compromises the church, well, we don’t whoop it up as much as we ought.

We get our Alleluia’s and our Gloria’s back at Mass. We can order burritos without worrying about what day it is. If we pray the Angelus, now we pray the Regina Coelli. But unless one is somehow attuned to a wavelength coming straight from the Source of Unending Joy. There’s really not a whole lot else to do, or is there…

April-May-June 2012
S M T W Th F S
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
8Easter Sunday
This is the greatest feast of the Church year. The day by which all the movable feasts are calculated 1. If the lenten discipline was properly adhered to, the secular nonsense about Easter being about regeneration and new life comes absolutely true. Everything comes alive on Easter morning and life is just good. Liturgically speaking, Easter morning is the first of a 50 day celebration. The colors in the Church are white for holiness. The symbols are flowers and bunnies and eggs for new life and the dead coming out of the ground and rolling away the stones. But the real rebirth is the one that takes place within, which makes Easter an even more opportune time than Ash Wednesday to commit yourself to practicing virtue.
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
15Divine Mercy Sunday
Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter) is the newest of the feasts I’ve been mentioning. It was proclaimed by Pope John Paul II in 2000 when he canonized St. Faustina Kowalska (the Polish Visionary who saw Jesus and the words “Jesus, I trust in You”). Her (short) life’s work was to spread devotion to the Divine Mercy, which the Pope affirmed as God’s greatest attribute.
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
1St. Joseph the Worker
The feast of St. Joseph the Worker always is in Easter, but its placement on May day is truly meant as a Christianization of one May Day, away from the communist notion of labor, toward the Catholic notion of labor modeled by St. Joseph. That’ll be a fun one to explain in 500 years.
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
17 (20)Ascencion Thursday
Feast and Holy Day of Obligation commemorating Jesus ascending into heaven 40 days after His resurrection. Moved to the following Sunday for most of the United States.
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
Fifty days after Easter, Pentecost is remembered as the day marking the birth of the Church when the Holy Spirit descended on Our Lady and the Apostles. The season of Easter ends with the conclusion of the reading of evening prayer on Pentecost Sunday.
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
7 (10)Corpus Christi
A day to remember the Body and Blood of Christ, fully present in the Holy Eucharist. Often marked by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament.

Corpus Christi Procession

In my diocese at least, Corpus Christi is moved to the following Sunday.
3Trinity Sunday
A day to remember the Holy Trinity. Something that usually comes about when a dogma is proclaimed to combat a heresy. In this case it’s the God in 3 persons versus the Arian Heresy
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
15Sacred heart of Jesus
Friday after 2nd Sunday after Pentecost; The end of a novena (9) of Fridays after Easter to commemorate the love in Jesus’ heart
16Immaculate Heart of Mary
Saturday after 2nd Sunday after Pentecost; Feast to commemorate the Pope consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary +J+M+J+.

Thus passeth the 7 Sundays of Easter and the various moveable feasts affected thereof. So, get out there and celebrate or, at the very least, know what to expect when you go in to a Catholic Church!

1 A bane to timeclock programmers like me.

+J+M+J+ Shameless plug for Marian Consecration

Next week the Affable Geek is going to take us back and remind us Why we need Good Friday. While Catholics have moved on to Easter and baseball, we all remember that

“As much as we love the Brewers, unlike Jesus, they didn’t die for your sins.” – Archbishop Jerome Listecki

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  • Jon Ericson says:

    I knew it would be your post to include an Easter bunny!

    I’m sorry the bots took over user IDs 1-3. You deserve one of them.

    For some reason, I always think of picnics when I hear the term “movable feast”. Any time you need to calculate the phases of the moon and the vernal equinox, you know you are in deep water. I wonder how much of our knowledge of astronomy comes from our desire to plan our festivals properly in advance.

    Marian Consecration? Really? It’s pretty likely I will never understand that phenomena and I probably should stop trying as it only sets my heart against fellow Christians.

    The Dodgers didn’t die for our sins either, but they are looking pretty miraculous so far this season.

    I appreciate your humor and earnestness, which are a rare and precious combination. (Chesterton would be proud.)

    • Peter Turner says:

      Thanks, it took a lot of F5ing to get the #4.

      Yeah Marian Consecration makes a lot of Catholics grind their teeth too. Mainly because it’s a vague notion, not a sacrament. People who are in to it are really in to it, people who are out of it don’t seem to want anything to do with it. I’m not exactly on the fence myself, I can’t really help but be skeptical about something Church related which isn’t strictly necessary for salvation. It’s like, “well I’m Catholic, what else can I do.. Oh, I know, I’ll consecrate myself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” I think that’s a bad justification. I did it to follow the example of St. Maximillian Kolbe who I read about in a novel lent to me by a woman who had an exceptionally strong influence in my life. Essentially, I read a book and said, “well, I finished that book, how should I respond to it?” I didn’t just pull Consecration out a void and I don’t think anyone does, at least I hope no one does.

      But from the outside, I can see how it would seem random, strange and maybe a little idolatrous. But if you think of her as your own mother, then you ought to honor her like you’d honor your own mother. And in that sense, there’s nothing you can do for her that wouldn’t make Jesus happy.

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