April 4, 2021

Easter Sunday–The Resurrection of the Lord

What is Easter?

The Easter Vigil is the “Mother of All Vigils.” Easter Sunday, then, is the greatest of all Sundays,
and Easter Time is the most important of all liturgical times. Easter is the celebration of the Lord’s
Resurrection from the dead, culminating in his Ascension to the Father and sending of the Holy
Spirit upon the Church. There are 50 days of Easter from the first Sunday of Easter to Pentecost.
It is characterized, above all, by the joy of glorified life and the victory over death, expressed
most fully in the great resounding cry of the Christian, Alleluia! All faith flows from faith in the
Resurrection: “If Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, is your
faith” (1 Cor 15:14).

“What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be
but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind; . . . So also is the resurrection of the
dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it “Easter is the celebration of the
Lord’s Resurrection from the dead, culminating his Ascension to the Father and sending of the Holy
Spirit upon the Church.” is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual
one. So, too, it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living being,’ the last Adam a life-giving
spirit. But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. The first man was from
the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven. As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and
as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one,
we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one” (1 Cor 15:36-37, 42-49).

The Octave of Easter comprises the eight days, which stretch from the first Sunday of Easter to the
Second Sunday of Easter. It is a way of prolonging the joy of the initial day. In a sense, every day
of the Octave is like a little Sunday.

The word “Easter” comes from Old English, meaning simply the “east.” The sun that rises in the
east, bringing light, warmth, and hope, is a symbol for the Christian of the rising Christ, who is
the true Light of the world. The Paschal Candle is a central symbol of this divine light, which is
Christ. It is kept near the ambo throughout Easter Time and is lit for all liturgical celebrations.

Copyright © 2021, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved

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