NOTES FROM DEACON PAREJA
Many people think that Christmas is the most important day in the Catholic liturgical calendar. When I was young, Christmas seemed liked the most important holiday of the year. But as I grew in my Christian faith,
I began to understand the importance and meaning of Easter.
From the earliest days of the Church, Easter has been considered the central Christian feast. As St. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:14, "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith sin vain.” Without Easter - without the Resurrection of Christ – there would be no Christian faith. Christ’s Resurrection is the proof of His Divinity.
Easter is not only the greatest Christian feast; Easter Sunday symbolizes the fulfillment of our faith as Christians. Through His Death, Christ freed us from sin. Through His Resurrection, He brought us the promise of new life, both in Heaven and on earth. As we consider The Lord’s Prayer, these words, "Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven," begins to be fulfilled on Easter Sunday. That is why individuals who have chosen to become Catholic are traditionally brought into the Church through the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion) at the Easter Vigil service which is on Holy Saturday evening. But to truly understand what makes Easter so special, it’s important to understand other Catholic beliefs regarding this special day.
Regarding Christmas, we celebrate it on a fixed date (December 25) each year. But some have asked why is Easter on a different day each year? Many Christians think that the date of Easter depends on the date of Passover, and so they get confused in those years when Easter (calculated according to the Gregorian calendar) falls before Passover (calculated according to the Hebrew calendar, which does not correspond to the Gregorian one). While there is a historical connection—the first Holy Thursday was the day of the Passover feast—the Council of Nicaea (325), one of the seven ecumenical councils acknowledged by both Catholics and Orthodox Christians, established a formula for calculating the date of Easter independent of the Jewish calculation of Passover.
Most Catholics currently receive Holy Communion each time they go to Mass, but that wasn't always the case. In fact, for a variety of reasons, many Catholics in the past very rarely received the Eucharist. Therefore, the Catholic Church made it a requirement for all Catholics to receive Communion at least once per year, during the Easter season. The Church also urges the faithful to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) in preparation for that Easter Communion, though you're only required to go to Confession if you have committed a mortal sin.
Just as Easter is the most important Christian holiday, so, too, the Easter season is the longest of the special liturgical seasons of the Church. It extends all the way to Pentecost Sunday, the 50th day after Easter, and encompasses such major feasts as Divine Mercy Sunday and Ascension.
In fact, Easter impacts the liturgical calendar even after the Easter season ends. Trinity Sunday and the feast of Corpus Christi, which both fall after Pentecost, are "moveable feasts," which means that their date in any given year depends on the date of Easter.
Just as Christmas isn’t about Santa Claus and presents, Easter isn’t about the Easter Bunny and colored eggs. Both events are all about Jesus.
My prayer for you is that your celebration in Jesus’ resurrection isn’t just focused on Easter Sunday, but throughout the entire Easter Season.
Easter Blessings to you and your families!