EASTER: Spreading the Good News of the Risen Lord

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.

This celebration comes after the holiest of weeks which began with the entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and included the suffering and death of Our Lord. The Resurrection on Easter completes the journey for Jesus when death was conquered. This moment marks the beginning of a new journey of belief and hope for all the faithful, Bishop Frank J. Dewane said during the Easter Vigil Mass, March 30, 2024, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

“Humanity has never really known a single night so powerful as tonight, during this Easter Vigil – so majestic, so holy – the greatest night, when the power of death is conquered,” Bishop Dewane said. “This is the night of keeping vigil as we wait for the Lord. This is the night of the new Adam, and of the New Covenant.”

The Easter Vigil, which takes place on Holy Saturday night, “is the greatest and most noble of all solemnities and it is to be unique in every single Church,” according to the Roman Missal. The Vigil began in darkness before the Easter fire was kindled and the Paschal (Passover) Candle was lit, and then proceeded down the main aisle, carried by a Deacon, into the darkened church with the proclamation that Christ is our Light.

The Gospel reading tells of the three women who went to the tomb of Jesus to complete the anointing of Jesus’ body properly, even though they knew a great stone was in their way, they were carried by their faith, hope and love for Jesus Christ because following a great darkness, the sun had risen that Easter morning.

“We must continually grow closer to the Lord, seeking His help, and proclaiming that He is risen,” Bishop Dewane said. “By living faith, hope, and love, in our own lives, just as those women did, the stones which keep us from the Lord will be moved out of our way, because we are each called to enter into the tomb and be with Christ, seeing, understanding and believing.”

During this Mass, the faithful hear the story of Salvation proclaimed in numerous Scripture readings. It is also at this time when the Bishop/priests confer the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation for the Catechumens and Candidates. At Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice, there were 662 women and men who entered fully into the Catholic Church, a record number for the Diocese.

One of these candidates was Shawn Marren, who first received the Sacrament of Confirmation and then the Sacrament of First Holy Communion from Bishop Dewane at Epiphany Cathedral.

Marren was emotional when he received his First Holy Communion. He explained that this moment meant a great deal to him having studied and learned the origin of the Real Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist. His journey toward becoming Catholic started a few years ago while filling in as an organist at the Cathedral. Marren was fascinated by the Most Holy Eucharist and the homilies offered during Masses. He then asked questions of Cathedral Rector Msgr. Patrick Dubois and was directed to read early Church teachings.

“I had never read pre-Reformation texts and my eyes were opened to the Catholic faith, and how the Real Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist lives to this day,” Marren said. “I feel truly blessed.”

The celebration of Easter is not confined to a single day, in fact, throughout the next 50 days the Easter Season is celebrated “in joyful exultation as one Feast Day, or better as one ‘great Sunday.’”

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 9, which is moved to the following Sunday on May 12 in most Diocese in the U.S., including the Diocese of Venice), and for the nine days following, prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (May 19).