The Easter Season
And on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled back from the sepulchre. And going in, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were astonished in their mind at this, behold, two men stood by them, in shining apparel. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their countenance towards the ground, they said unto them: Why seek you the living with the dead?
He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spoke unto you, when he was in Galilee, Saying: The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words. And going back from the sepulchre, they told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. And it was Mary Magdalen, and Joanna, and Mary of James, and the other women that were with them, who told these things to the apostles.
- Luke 24:1-10
What is Easter?
Easter is the principal feast of the liturgical year, called "the greatest feast" by Pope St. Leo the Great in the mid-5th century. He also noted that the feast of Christmas was celebrated in preparation for Easter. And while Christmas celebrations are often far more abundant in today’s society, the nativity is indeed a preparation for the central feast of Easter. Christmas is celebrated because the birth of Jesus begins Christ’s journey and work on earth, which will culminate in the crucifixion and resurrection.
The Easter season does not last for merely one Sunday, but several weeks. The season begins with the Easter Vigil, which is celebrated after night falls on the evening before Easter Sunday; it lasts for 50 days, from Easter Sunday through Pentecost. A joyous season, Easter begins with the celebration of the resurrection and concludes with the celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus.
Of the feast of Easter, the Catholic Encyclopedia notes that “Commemorating the slaying of the true Lamb of God and the Resurrection of Christ, the corner-stone upon which faith is built, it is also the oldest feast of the Christian Church, as old as Christianity, the connecting link between the Old and New Testaments.”