Entering into the Mystery of Easter
The Easter season lasts 50 days, from Easter Sunday until Pentecost. Why 50? Seven is a sign of fullness---there are seven days in a week. Seven weeks signify “fully full”. And when one more day is added---to make 50---we have a sign of the fullest fullness. That’s where we have been rocketed by the Paschal Triduum, into the fullest fullness. And so we keep Eastertime by “playing heaven”, by learning how to live with one foot on earth and one foot in heaven---both feet planted firmly in the reign of God.
“Playing heaven”---what a great expression! Take some time to ponder what it means to live as if we were already in heaven. What might this look like, sound like, feel like? What are the challenges and consequences? Notice that Lent is shorter than the Easter season. That’s deliberate. It means that in the course of the liturgical year the balance is tipped from fasting to feasting, from contrition to celebration, from remorse to joy and contentment.
These 50 days are one-seventh of the year. Bishop Athansius called them the “Great Sunday”. As the Lord’s Day is to the week, the Easter season is to the year. The Lord’s Day every week and the Easter season every year are meant to be times of rest, renewal and recreation that leave us created anew.
Amazingly, this is our most ancient season, older even than Lent. The scriptures, psalms and sacramental rites of the Easter season are wonderfully rich and foundational to faith. But many people are still unaware of the season. Catechesis is in order here.
Even if the Easter season is unfamiliar, it brings with it familiar and well-loved observances: most every Eastertime we play baseball, celebrate Mother’s Day, have a picnic, clean windows, plant tomatoes and geraniums, and chat with neighbours whom we may have barely seen all winter. It’s light enough to play outside after supper, lily-of-the-valley blooms, and the social calendar gets into high gear with confirmations, first communions, awards ceremonies, graduations, and perhaps a wedding or two. One of our tasks is to help others recognize these familiar activities for what they can be---encounters with the risen Christ and bestowals of the Holy Spirit.
From: School Year Church Year Customs and Decorations for the Classroom by Peter Mazar