By Bob Reddy (Florida Catholic)
Throughout the Universal Church the faithful gathered for a joyous celebration on Easter; that is the Resurrection of Our 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 which 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 Our 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 on April 15 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.
‚ÄúThe path to a sharing in the Resurrection in one that is lit by the Light that is Jesus Christ,‚ÄĚ Bishop Dewane said. ‚ÄúThe path of our own salvation is also lit by the Light that is Jesus Christ. We must take that Light and put it into our life in our own way. Go and tell the Good News of the Lord and reflect that light of Christ to others. It is what JesusChrist asked us to do.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWe find an empty tomb and we rejoice and believe, just as the ‚Äėother disciple‚Äô did,‚ÄĚ Bishop Dewane continued. ‚ÄúThis doesn‚Äôt end the story. It is the beginning of the new story of hope and joy that we will someday share in the promise of Salvation. All of us are on the same journey of Faith. Let the love of Christ into your hearts because today we are asked to give witness and to go out and tell the good news that Jesus Christ is risen.‚ÄĚ
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 our 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. There were 388 women and men who entered fully into the Catholic Church at parishes throughout the Diocese.
‚ÄúIt is a blessing from the Lord that these individuals are entering fully into the Church this day,‚ÄĚ Bishop Dewane said. ‚ÄúThey are giving a public witness of who they are and who they are becoming. Let their witness be that call for us to live ever more strongly our Faith and to respond to our baptismal promises and let that Light of Jesus Christ be our guide.‚ÄĚ
The celebration of Easter is not confined to a single day, in fact, throughout the next 50 days the Easter Season is celebrated ‚Äúin joyful exultation as one Feast Day, or better as one ‚Äėgreat Sunday.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
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 25, which is moved to the following Sunday on May 28), and for the nine days following, prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (June 4).
Holy Week in pictures