Monday, April 9, 2007

Octave of Easter

Alleluia! He is risen!

A happy Easter to everyone! Today is in the octave of Easter. The octave is eight consecutive days that we observe like Easter Sunday. The octave concludes with the Second Sunday of Easter, which also marks Divine Mercy Sunday (more on that later in the week). Of course the eighth day, going back to the Church Fathers, is the eternal day, the day that will never end, the dawn of which is Christ's resurrection. Each week, as we count days from Sunday to Sunday, the Lord's Day is both the first and the eighth day, just as Jesus Chist is the Alpha and the Omega- the beginning and the end, "the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb 13,8).

From the Monday following Divine Mercy Sunday it remains Easter until the great feast of Pentecost, which, this year, is Sunday, 27 May. So, we still have a lot of Easter to enjoy! It is fitting that we rejoice and celebrate ten days longer than we observe Lent. We must keep in mind, of course, that Lent can and should be a joyful observance in its own right. During Easter our midday prayer switches from the Angelus to the Regina Caeli, both of which can be found in Latin and English in the Holy See's web version of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

It is during Easter that we enjoy the fruits of the discipline we undertook during Lent. If, for example, one of your Lenten foci was praying daily, you should be well in the habit of daily prayer and so enjoy this new found, or re-established closeness to our resurrected and risen Lord. Whatever else we focused on, overcoming those habits and even addictions that are not life-giving, we are also to continue to enjoy during Easter, and not return to them, like a dog to its vomit, to use St. Peter's stark, almost over-the-top metaphor (2 Pet 2,22). "It is a pity," writes Deacon Owen Cummings, quoting Resurrectionist priest Harry Williams, in his article The Spirituality of Ash Wednesday and Lent, which appeared in Emmanuel magazine, a publication of St. Anne's Province of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, if "we think of Lent as a time when we try to make ourselves uncomfortable in some fiddling but irritating way."

Bishop Wester preached eloquently on Easter about how it is that we experience this new life that God gives us in Christ and through His resurrection. He spoke about how this new life is to be experienced in the very in ordinary circumstances of our daily lives. If we look for it elsewhere, as a sudden flash from the great beyond, we are bound to be disappointed and our lives very little changed.

Alleluia! He is risen, indeed!

(Picture is an album cover for the Christian group Eighth Day as is from their website Eighth Day Music Online)

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