Holy Week: Easter Sunday

by Sal on April 12, 2009

in Religion

This is the day the Lord has made;  let us rejoice and be glad, Alleluia!

With the ritual and ceremony of the great liturgy of the Triduum now concluded with the fanfare of the Easter Vigil, Holy Week draws to a close with Easter Sunday.  As a Liturgy, the Mass of Easter Sunday is fairly similar to most of the other liturgies of a year.  When looked at in the context of the rest of Holy Week, it may seem almost like an afterthought, and in one sense, it is.  In the early Church, the Easter Vigil was celebrated throughout the night, and finally ending at sunrise on Easter Sunday.  There were no individual Easter Sunday celebrations to speak of.  As time went on, the Easter Sunday Masses began to be celebrated to carry over the joy of the Easter Vigil into the next day, and into the whole Octave (eight days) of Easter that end on Divine Mercy Sunday, the weekend following Easter Sunday.

In the context of Holy Week, then, Easter Sunday forms the epilogue to the greatest story ever told.  While the Easter Vigil readings focused on salvation history throughout the Old Testament, the Easter Sunday readings focus on the aftermath of the Resurrection, the early Church.  In the first reading, Peter preaches the mystery of the Resurrection and how our faith unites us to it (“To Him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins through His name”).  The second reading also extols us to celebrate this feast with pure hearts and to seek what is above, that we may be united in the Resurrection of Christ.  An ancient poem, the Easter Sequence, is sung before the Gospel, uniting us with the joy of those early Christians.  The Gospel reading focuses on the finding of the empty tomb from Saint John’s Gospel and how the Disciples were in awe of the mystery of that empty tomb. Following the Homily, the renewal of Baptismal Promises and the sprinkling of Holy Water takes place, reminding us of the link between the our new life received in the Sacrament of Baptism and the Paschal Mystery.

The Joy of the Resurrection is so great that the Church sets aside 50 days to really take in the mystery of our Redemption.  The Easter season focuses on that joy as experienced by the early Church.  The Paschal Mystery, as recounted in the events of Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday, celebrated in its fullness in the great Triduum, and remembered with joy on Easter Sunday, were transformative events that shaped the course of human history and man’s relationship with the Father through His Son, who suffered, died, was buried, and rose again from the dead.  He did this not for Himself, but to save us from our own sins.  The annual celebration of Holy Week is a reminder of this mystery, and a way for us to relive the same sorrow and joy as experienced by the Apostles and Disciples of Christ when He walked the earth.  Through the Eucharist, we are made actually present to these events as we pray, sing, and offer sacrifice to the God who created us, redeemed us, and is with us to this day in love. Happy Easter!

Christ is Risen, Alleluia.  Christ is truly risen, Alleluia!

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Holy Week: The Easter Vigil | Axis of Right
April 12, 2009 at 11:53 am

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