He is Risen.
He is Risen indeed!
This week we celebrate the Octave of Easter – 8 days of feasting and rejoicing. Each of these days is treated as another Easter Sunday. At daily Mass, everyone proclaims the Gloria and Alleluia, as on other solemnities. No fasting is allowed, and the usual practice of abstaining from something on Fridays is also suspended. The Liturgy of the Hours even specifies the same prayers as on Easter Sunday. It truly is one eight-day long celebration of the glory of Easter!
Though the full Easter season lasts for 50 days – up through Pentecost – the first eight are of special significance. This celebration of the Octave of Easter dates back to at least the 4th century, when the newly baptized would wear their baptismal garments and celebrate their new life in Christ daily from Easter to the following Sunday. Now known as Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter serves as a fitting conclusion to the high celebrations begun on Easter Sunday and completes the 8-day octave.
So, what can we do to celebrate this great solemnity? Daily Mass is a good start. In Rome, the newly baptized locals have traditionally celebrated Mass in a different basilica, often corresponding with the readings of the day. While people outside Rome may not have the luxury of visiting a different basilica each day, we can attend Mass at our local church or at least read the daily readings and reflect upon the Resurrection and its meaning in our lives.
Other forms of celebration include the renewal of baptismal vows, either during Mass as part of the liturgical celebrations or at home. Also, lighting candles, especially our baptismal candle or one newly blessed, serve as a reminder of the light of Christ in the world. In addition, what would a great solemnity be without a scrumptious feast? This week is a great time to prepare all the favorite Easter foods – not just on Sunday, but to indulge in throughout the week.
Most importantly, however, is to take time to rejoice in the Lord – with others or in our own homes – for He has risen, as He said. For: This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice in it and be glad. (Psalm 118:24)