For the Easter Season Spread the Good News
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 into 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.
“Tonight, represents a great night. When the power of death is conquered by Jesus Christ. When we have been given that promise of eternal life,” Bishop Dewane said.
The Bishop noted the Gospel reading from the Vigil provides guidance to carry the message of Easter forward. The Gospel of Mark (16:1-7) tells the story of the women who were going to treat the body of Jesus in the Jewish custom and wondered along the way about how to remove the stone over the tomb. Determined to go on despite their own doubts, they found the stone rolled to the side and the Gospel then reads: “On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, ‘Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.'”
Bishop Dewane said we all need to look back to Scripture and recall those words, at that moment. “It is not just a story from the past. These words, from Jesus Christ, are for you, and for me. We have to read them anew and understand it is what Christ has told us.”
By listening to the what the Lord teaches, we let the love of Christ into your hearts. Therefore, we can approach the tomb ourselves, “with the same determination as the women who came to the tomb did,” the Bishop continued. “Don’t be afraid. Go forward. If we move forward with that same determination, the Lord will provide an angel to help you remove that stone. Remember to do what he told you. It’s in Scripture. Let it be in our hearts and let us live those words we have been told.”
The Easter Vigil began in darkness before the Easter fire is kindled and the Paschal (Passover) Candle lit which was 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. It is also at this time that the priests baptize and confirm any Catechumens and Candidates. There were 398 women and men who entered fully into the Catholic Church at parishes throughout the Diocese.
One of these candidates was Carlee Smith who received the Sacraments of Baptist, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion from Bishop Dewane at Epiphany Cathedral. Smith was overwhelmed with tears of joy at becoming fully Catholic. “It is happiness that this special day has arrived,” Smith said as she held her daughter afterwards.
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 eight days after Easter make up what is called the Octave of Easter, and is a festive time. On the 40th day of the Easter Season, Catholics celebrate the Ascension of the Lord (May 8, which this year is moved to the following Sunday, May 13). The days that follow are a time to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday (May 20).