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Sunday, April 08, 2007

The feast of resurrection of Christ derives its name from Eastre, the goddess of Spring, according to St. Bede the Venerable, but others think that the term comes from a misunderstanding of Hebdomada Alba , when alba ("white") was mistranslated into the High German word for dawn, when the Risen Lord was seen by the holy women. In any event, this festival is the high point of the Christian Year, as it celebrates the central mystery of Christ, His triumph over death and the cross in His resurrection, which in the synoptic Gospels is associated with the Jewish Passover.

In celebrating the Pasch, the early Christians no longer focused so much on the exodus from Egypt, but on the new exoducs from the slavery of sin into new life in the Risen Lord wrought by Christ. This new focus was central to each Sunday's celebration of the Eucharist, but the natural tendecny was to historicize it by celebrating it yearly on the first Sunday after the fourteenth of Nisan (the date of the Jewish Passover). Not all accepted this way of computing the Easter date, but eventually the Council of Nicaea furthered uniformity by fixing it on the Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox. There are still difficulties between those who follow the Gregorian (Western) and Julian (Russian Orthodoc) calendars.

The fest itslef was considered the time to welcome new catechumens into the Chuirch by Baptism at the Great Vigil, where the whole salvation history was read. After Baptsim, the catechumens were sealed by Confirmation and them made their First Communion at the Easter Eucharist. They had a long catechumenate with special preparation for the Easter feast. Lent developed. Yhe vigil itself was kept in the night in the East, but in the West in the tenth century it was moved to the afternoon, and in the fourteenth century to the morning. Pope Pius XII permitted the Vigil Mass to be celebrated as such in the evening as an option in 1951 and made this practice obligatory in 1956. At this time, he restored the Holy Week rites, especially those of the Triduum, which were further revised after Vatican II.

The spirit of the feast of Easter begins with the vigil and its festival of lights, symbolizing the Light of the Resurrection seen in the new fire, the Easter Candle,and the Exsultet. The liturgy of the Word commences with the whole history of salvation commemorated in the readings from the Old and the New testaments. The Liturgy of Baptism takes place for those to be initiated, and the faithful renew their baptismal promises. All of this leads to the celebration of the Easter Eucharist in the middle of the night, which makes this night different from all other nights and the "moter of all vigils", in the words of St. Augustine. The next day at the Festive Easter Masses the baptismal promises are renewed by all the faithful who did not attend the vigil. The Easter Season lasts until Pentecost, with the Pachal Candle lit at Mass, Lauds and Vespers until then.


(Source: Abstracted from the readings of CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA by Rev. Peter M.J. Stravinskad, PhD)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:16 PM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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