Tuesday April 22, 2014
The Easter season, between Easter and Pentecost Sunday, is a foretaste of the life of the world to come. In Christ's triumph over death, we see the promise of everlasting life, in a world without sin and pain and death.
There is no better time of the year to devote ourselves in prayer for the most helpless among us. The murder of the unborn, children innocent of actual sin, in their mothers' wombs is the greatest tragedy we know today. Yet it takes places every day, all around us—1.3 million children per year in the United States alone.
Thus, as we celebrate the joy of Christ's Resurrection and glimpse the life of the world to come, I have chosen the Easter Prayer for Life as our novena of the week. Written by Priests for Life, one of the chief Catholic pro-life organizations, this prayer is short, simple, and powerful.
And don't forget that the Divine Mercy Novena, which began on Good Friday, continues through the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday (this coming Sunday). Even if you haven't been praying the novena every day, you can join in at any time with the millions of Catholics worldwide who pray this novena every year.
If you have a favorite novena that you'd like me to choose as Novena of the Week, or if you'd like me to suggest a novena for a particular intention, send me an e-mail, and I'll work it into the rotation.
Tuesday April 22, 2014
Which season is longer, Christmas or Easter? Well, Easter Sunday is just one day, while there are 12 days of Christmas, right? Well, yes and no.
As I've discussed before, the Christmas season actually lasts 40 days, from Christmas Day until Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation, on February 2. The 12 days of Christmas refer to the most festive part of the season, from Christmas Day until Epiphany.
Similarly, the period from Easter Sunday through Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter Sunday), also known as the Octave (or eighth day) of Easter, is an especially joyful time. But the Easter season doesn't end there: Because Easter is the most important feast in the Christian calendar—even more important than Christmas—the Easter season continues on for 50 days, through the Ascension of Our Lord to Pentecost Sunday. (Indeed, for the purpose of fulfilling our Easter Duty, the Easter season extends until Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost!)
So keep on celebrating and wishing your friends a happy Easter! As St. John Chrysostom reminds us in his famous Easter homily, read in Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches on Easter, Christ has destroyed death, and now is the "feast of faith."
You can read all about Easter, including its history, practice, how the date of Easter is calculated, what holidays fall during the Easter season, and much more in Easter 101: Everything You Need to Know About Easter in the Catholic Church.
(A statue of the risen Christ at Saint Mary Oratory, Rockford, Illinois. Photo © Scott P. Richert)
More on Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday:
Sunday April 20, 2014
Today is Easter, the greatest feast in the Christian calendar. From His death on Good Friday, Christ has risen to new life, and His Resurrection gives us the hope of eternal life. In Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches on Easter, Christians greet each other with cries of "Christ is risen!" and respond "Indeed He is risen!" Over and over, they sing a hymn of celebration:
Christ is risen from the dead
By death He conquered death
And to those in the graves
He granted life!
In Western Catholic churches, the Alleluia is sung for the first time since the beginning of Lent. Our fast is over; now is the time for celebration, as St. John Chrysostom reminds us in his famous Easter Homily. We began singing hymns of joy at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday; and we should continue that joy throughout the day, as we enjoy our Easter meal.
Through it all, however, we should always keep in mind that Easter isn't just some spiritual event that happened just once, long ago; we don't say "Christ has risen" but "Christ is risen," because He rose, body and soul, and is still alive and with us today. That is the true meaning of Easter.
Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
(A Russian icon of the Resurrection of Christ. Photo © Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.)
Friday April 18, 2014
Icon of Extreme Humility. (Photo © Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.)