Easter - Christ is Risen

Easter is a Season, Not a Day!

13 April 2022

5 MINS

Let us celebrate the stupendous fact of the Resurrection, our Lord’s victory over sin and death, not just on Resurrection/Easter Sunday, but for the whole season of Easter, until Pentecost Day. Though the world around us may carry on with life as normal, we have been graced with the Good News that Jesus lives, now and forever.

Given the big fuss over Christmas, one may be forgiven for thinking that Easter is less important — but the Solemnity of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the most important Christian feast in the entire liturgical year. It marks the ultimate triumph of Christ over sin and death.

Resurrection from death is a significantly more difficult concept to accept compared to the birth of a child, hence probably why Easter receives less notice in our secularised culture. If you accept that Jesus rose from the dead, you have to accept that He is divine.

Gestation and Birth of the Church

Just as Christmastide is traditionally celebrated for forty days, Paschaltide (or Eastertide) goes for fifty days, until Pentecost Sunday. As Fr John Hardon writes:

“It corresponds to the time of rejoicing that the risen Jesus spent with His followers on earth and the nine days He told them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.”

During this time, the Acts of the Apostles are read daily — the story of the first Christians and how they spread the Gospel throughout their world.

The early Christian bishop Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296 – 373) stated:

“The fifty days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated in joy and exultation as one feast day, indeed as one ‘great Sunday’.”

From Easter Sunday till the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven is forty days, and thereafter are nine days to Pentecost Sunday. From these nine days we derive the custom of praying a novena – a nine-day prayer. Just as Christ spent nine months gestating in the womb, the disciples spent nine days in prayerful preparation before the birth of the Church at Pentecost. (Acts 1:14)

The Christian Passover

Wikipedia notes:

“Easter Sunday and Pentecost correspond to pre-existing Jewish feasts: The first day of Pesach (פסח) and the holiday of Shavu’ot (שבועות). In the Jewish tradition, the 49 days between these holidays are known as Counting of the Omer (ספירת העומר)‎.”

Fr John Hardon explained:

“The deliverance of the Jews from Egypt was a foreshadowing of the Christian Pasch when through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and the application of the merits of His blood, the human race would be freed from the bondage of the devil and of sin.

Good Friday in the early Church was called the Pasch of the Crucifixion, while Easter day was styled the Pasch of the Resurrection, the Sundays from Easter to Whitsunday were always referred to as ‘after the Pasch.’ Easter is the Christian Passover.”

Christ is the ultimate Passover lamb, the Lamb Whose blood saves us and our families from certain destruction, Who sustains us as we cross over from the slavery of sin to the freedom of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Octave of Easter

I was seated at dinner in my Anglican college during one Easter break when I overheard a fellow student ponder, “I wonder why it’s called Easter Monday. I guess it’s because Easter is on a Sunday and so the public holiday is on a Monday.”

I was too shy to speak up and inform the wonderer that it is called “Easter Monday” because it is properly known as Monday in the Octave of Easter. Just as Christmas is celebrated for eight days until New Year’s Day, the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, so the Day of the Lord’s Resurrection is celebrated as the highest holy day over a period of eight days.

Indian weddings last at least three days — what more our joyous celebration of this foretaste of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb? A single day is simply not long enough to honour the fantastic miracle of the Resurrection, after the terrible events of Good Friday. (Moreover, more traditional Christians have just emerged from the forty penitential days of Lent, wandering in the desert, and are ready for a good party.)

Every day during the Octave, the medieval hymn Victimae Paschali Laudes is sung before the Gospel is read:

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
Offer your thankful praises!

A Lamb the sheep redeems;
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconciles sinners to the Father.

Death and life have contended
in that combat stupendous:
The Prince of Life, who died, reigns immortal…

Divine Mercy

A recent development has been the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday on the Second Sunday of Easter. Pope John Paul II designated this feast to re-emphasise how God’s mercy saves us from our sins. The opening prayer reads:

“Heavenly Father and God of Mercy,
we no longer look for Jesus among the dead,
for He is alive and has become the Lord of Life.”

 

New Life

Some Paschaltides ago, I composed this poem – may it bring you joy as you commemorate our Lord’s victory. Christ is Risen, Alleluia!

A Paschal Poem: Christ’s Guests

Christmas - Easter - The Adoration of the Magi -Edward Burne-Jones

The Adoration of the Magi. Morris & Co. tapestry. Design by Edward Burne-Jones (1887). Art Gallery of South Australia.

When Love was hid within the crib
Wise men Heaven’s call did heed
Beneath the Star they travelled far
To seek the King of Whom was writ
That He should come to rule the world.
The Infant’s fingers lightly curled
About His mother’s drooping veil
As the old kings did gently kneel
Amidst the straw, to here adore
The Messiah, and implore
His solemn benediction
Proffering a sweet oblation
Of frankincense for the true God
And purest gold for our one Lord
With myrrh to spice the Sacrifice
They built for Him an edifice
Of profound praise within their hearts
And reluctantly, depart
Holding in sweet memory
The innocent visage of He
Who was to bring
Through suffering
The reign of Peace.

Easter

The Three Marys at the tomb, Peter von Cornelius (1822)

When Love had sprung from the cold tomb,
The women came to anoint His wounds
Bearing myrrh; their hearts were gold
With sheer courage — they were bold
Enough to brave the guards
If fight they must with their pot-shards
They would not be unduly kept
Away from Him for Whom they wept.
As prayers like incense rose on high
In silence through the darkened sky
They found to their deep dismay
The body gone, the grave forlorn
Who had stolen Him away?
The angels came, in light arrayed
And as the women bowed and prayed
They turned to them, and softly said
Why seek ye the living among the dead?
He is not here, He is risen.
Cease ye now thy sad orisons.
The women rose, and brought the news
To brethren hiding from the Jews
Who did not believe their words
But Peter ran, with John ahead
And stooped to see, with bated breath
If Christ had truly conquered death
No words were needed then, their eyes
Saw He had opened Paradise.

Easter Resurrection -Piero della Francesca

Resurrection, Piero della Francesca (1463-65)

So now we sing, to our God-King,
Let all earth and Heaven ring
He has triumphed evermore!
Let us bow down and adore
The Infant, Man and God in one
The Father’s sole obedient Son
Who for us Life has dearly won
‘Tis Love alone, when all is done
Who will call to us, and we
Should now strive ever to be
Worthy of the price He paid
And be delivered undismayed
Into His presence, and adore
In profound peace forevermore.

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6 Comments

  1. Nel Farnik 13 April 2022 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your article and beautiful poem which is a gift to us all. Shalom Nel

    • Jean Seah 13 April 2022 at 1:40 pm - Reply

      You are most welcome, and thank you for your lovely comment, Nel! God bless you and your family this Paschaltide! =)

  2. Sylvia Huxham 14 April 2022 at 5:53 am - Reply

    Thank you Jean -This was an insightful article – Giving me the opportunity to prod a bit deeper than the conventions of church practices- Then you beautiful poem of love and adoration -of worship -Beautiful !! Thank You

    • Jean Seah 15 April 2022 at 10:07 am - Reply

      You are most welcome, Sylvia! God bless you & yours this Paschaltide =)

  3. Paul 25 April 2022 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    If Jesus Christ had not risen from the dead then he would have been just another prophet? But, in rising from the dead, he demonstrated that he was not just a prophet but The GOD of the Prophets… and that’s the difference.

  4. Paul 25 April 2022 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross, but that same Christ will rise and split history into AD and BC., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by His name.

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