Festival of Christian faith
Our Easter faith depends on the testimony of the first witnesses, John and Peter and others who saw Jesus risen from death. We have to take them at their word when they proclaim that God raised Jesus from the dead. We come to our Christian faith through the report of those first witnesses, who “saw and believed.”
From the beginning, after the Resurrection, Christians celebrated the paschal mystery every Sunday in the form of a eucharistic celebration. Over a hundred years later, Christians chose a particular Sunday as a special day for the feast of Christ’s resurrection. The Sunday they deliberately chose was the Sunday following the Jewish feast of the Passover, which was held at the new moon on the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan. In this way, the Jewish feast was christianized.
More than Commemoration
In celebrating the Passover, the Jews were not simply commemorating a past event. Rather, they were celebrating a past event that they considered they were taking part in. In this sense, they regarded the past event as a present reality in their own lives.
Similarly, for Christians, Easter is not simply the commemoration or recollection of a past event, or only its representation in word and sacrament. We celebrate our own participation in the risen life of Christ, initiated in baptism and nourished in Holy Communion.
Completion of the Easter Triduum
Throughout Holy Week and especially during the Easter Triduum, we looked forward to Easter Sunday. We celebrated Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday, while never forgetting the Resurrection. Now on Easter Sunday, we look back to those events and see everything in perspective. What happened on Good Friday, for example, was not an imposed execution but a voluntary sacrifice, not a defeat but a triumph, not an end but a beginning.
Liturgy of the Hours
The Easter Vigil takes the place of the Office of Readings. Those who haven’t attended the Solemn Vigil should read at least four readings, including the account of the Exodus (Ex 14:15-15:1).
In Morning Prayer, a special antiphon replaces the Short Responsory. There is a special Concluding Invitation for Easter Sunday and the whole of the Easter Octave.
Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday concludes the Easter Triduum and begins the fifty days of the Easter Season.
In Night Prayer, the psalms are prayed under a single Antiphon of three Alleluias.
There is only one Mass text for all the Masses celebrated on Easter Sunday. The day Mass stresses the presence among his own of the risen Jesus, leading us to the fullness of faith. The theme is joy in the Risen Christ.
The Renewal of Baptismal Promises is included in every Mass, after the homily. The Profession of Faith (the Creed) is incorporated in the renewal of our baptismal promises. The people are sprinkled with water that was blessed during the Easter Vigil, as a symbol of their baptism.
In the Preface of Easter I, “on this Easter day” is included. The Eucharistic Prayer I has two special Easter inclusions: “In union with the whole Church”, and, “Father, accept this offering.”
The Dismissal for Easter Sunday and the Octave is the same as the Dismissal at the Easter Vigil Mass.
Continuation of the Easter Mass of the Resurrection
The Easter Vigil Mass is like an earthquake that sends out shock waves. The resurrection event reverberates most strongly on Easter Sunday then throughout the fifty days of the Easter season (Paschal Time). The shock waves reach every Sunday of the year and every Mass on weekdays. Any feeling of anticlimax after the Easter Vigil should be dispelled by the solemnity and festivity of the Easter Sunday Mass. This, and Christmas, are the only two occasions when many Christians come to church.
Day of baptism
Easter Sunday is the ideal day to celebrate Baptism. Adults are often baptized in the Easter Vigil, and babies on Easter Sunday. This avoids overloading the Easter Vigil and makes it easier for babies and their parents, who have difficulty coping with the vigil.