Venice | Throughout the universal Church the faithful gathered for a joyous celebration on Easter; that is the resurrection of the Lord, the summit of the Catholic Faith. Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the “Feast of Feasts,” the “Solemnity of Solemnities.”
This celebration comes after the holiest of weeks that began with the entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and included the institution of the Eucharist (Communion) during the Last Supper, institution of the Sacrament of Holy Orders as well as the betrayal by Judas on Holy Thursday and the suffering and death of the Lord on Good Friday. The resurrection on Easter completes the journey for Jesus, but it is just the beginning of a new journey of belief and hope for the faithful, Bishop Frank J. Dewane explained during an Easter Vigil Mass April 20 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.
“Easter is a promise that we will die,” Bishop Dewane said. “But it doesn’t end there at all. More important in that message is the Resurrection, the assurance that in the death of Jesus Christ you and I are also offered eternal life.”
Through this we are part of a covenant where God has sent his son, and for this we are called to live accordingly.
“The Easter mysteries are given to all of us, and at the same we are given a new identity,” Bishop Dewane added “We are the saved; we are the redeemed; we are the renewed; we are the Christians. The tomb could not hold back the Lord of Life. In living the promise that Jesus Christ has given, the tomb cannot hold back the promise of eternal life.”
The Easter Vigil began in darkness before the Easter fire was kindled and the paschal (Passover) candle was lit and brought into the darkened church with the proclamation that Christ is the light.
During this Mass, the faithful hear the story of salvation proclaimed in numerous Scripture readings including from Genesis and Exodus. It is also at the Holy Saturday vigil that the priests baptize and confirm any catechumens and candidates. In all, there were 268 women and men who entered fully into the Catholic Church at parishes throughout the Diocese. They join more than 37,000 who were welcomed into the Church at Easter Vigil Masses nationwide.
The celebration of Easter is not confined to a single day, in fact, throughout the next 50 days the Easter Season is celebrated “in joyful exultation as one feast day, or better as one ‘great Sunday.’”
The first days make up the octave of Easter and are celebrated as solemnities of the Lord. On the 40th day of the Easter season, Catholics celebrate the Ascension of the Lord (May 30, which is moved to the following Sunday June 2), and for the nine days following, prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (June 9).