For many in our culture Easter is a one day event – the bunny arrives, the baskets are filled, the sun sets, and it’s all over. For us, as Catholics, though, Easter Sunday marks the beginning of the Easter season – a 50 day season punctuated by Pentecost. That’s a pretty long time – longer than Lent. But it’s kind of funny because when you think about how we mark Lent with our spiritual exercises to prepare for Easter, you’ve got to wonder what we do to mark the Easter season with spiritual exercises to prepare ourselves for Pentecost. That got me thinking…
The Octave of Easter
An octave is a special liturgical period lasting 8 days. It begins on a feast day and often ends on another. The Easter Octave begins on Feast of Easter and ends on the Feast of Divine Mercy, the following Sunday. At daily Mass a notable difference occurs during the octave. Each day we pray the Gloria. Usually omitted during daily Mass, the Gloria is integral to the celebration. As a Church, we pray that great hymn of praise. We continue the feast by praising!
Today’s scripture readings
In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the Sadducees arrested and jailed Peter for healing “the crippled man” (Acts 4:1). Brought before the Jewish leaders, Peter proclaims the resurrection and witnesses to the power of Jesus and His Holy Name. We are called to do the same. We continue the feast by proclaiming and witnessing to the power of Jesus!
Today’s psalm, 118, gives us three further clues.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good…” (Ps 118:1) Gratitude places us in a humble posture before God and man, but it is one of the most liberating sentiments of the human heart. It completely lifts us out of ourselves and turns our gaze toward the other. Easter is time of deep gratitude for the sacrifice of Jesus. Gratitude lights our face with joy, making Jesus more visible to the world. We continue the feast by giving thanks!
“… for His mercy endures forever.” (Ps 118:1) God’s love is everlasting, eternal, and personal. Our selfishness and sin separate us from God and from one another. Only mercy reunites us, and only mercy forgives us. We are called to be the merciful hands and feet of Jesus in this world. We continue the feast by extending mercy!
“This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.” (Ps 118:24) God is the eternal present – I AM, not I was, or I will be. Today, in fact this moment, is all we really have. Choosing to rejoice in His gift of the moment – no matter how difficult – is an acceptance of His Lordship. God gives us “this day” to do His will and His work in the world. Rejoicing in His gift radiates purpose and gratitude and proclaims Him to those we meet. We continue the feast by rejoicing!
Today’s gospel relates a familiar scene. The apostles are out on the lake fishing. Having caught nothing, Jesus, whom they did not recognize, instructs them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” (Jn 21:6) They hear the voice Jesus; they obey His command; and they experience abundance. It is only then that they recognize Him. We continue the feast by listening to Jesus and obeying Him!
So today, would you join me in continuing the Feast by praising, proclaiming, witnessing, giving thanks, extending mercy, rejoicing, listening, and obeying?
His mercy endures forever! Anne