Whereas in Lent we repented, in Eastertide we rejoice. Whereas we fasted, now we feast. Whereas we gave alms, now we give witness in all manner of ways to all people that Christ is truly risen, the old world order is passed away and the reign of God is begun. Begun in the newly baptized, newly oiled believers who have taken their place at Christ’s table. Begun again in us who were baptized and chrismated long ago or last Easter.
In Central Europe, it’s customary to spritz people with water on Easter Monday, to remember baptism, to make merry and in some cultures, even to choose a spouse! The bathed and anointed church is the risen Christ’s spouse. Let the wedding feast begin!
Lent was 40 days, the season of sorrow and striving and training. But Eastertide is 50 days, the season of joy and celebrating and feasting! Fifty days for our delight! Fifty days to sing the song of saints and angels: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Copyright © 2002 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1800 North Hermitage Avenue, Chicago IL 60622-1101; 1-800-933-1800; www.ltp.org. Text by David Philippart. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
A Sense of the Season
First, we kept the forty days, with praying, fasting and giving alms. Then we celebrated the three days of Christ’s passion, dying and rising. Now we delight in the fifty days, with rejoicing, feasting and giving witness! The season of Easter is fifty days long. It is a time of unbridled joy, of exuberant rejoicing. The church tells us, “The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated in joyful exultation as one feast day, or better as one ‘great Sunday.’ These above all others are days for the singing of the Alleluia.” (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar, #22)
Why is Eastertime fifty days? The ancient cultures that gave us the Bible had great respect for numbers. They believed that numbers contained hints about God and the meaning of life. The number seven was thought to contain fullness: There are seven days in the week, according to God’s original way of ordering time, creating all that there is and resting. So if you multiply 7 times 7, you have “fullness times fullness.”
But wait! 7 x 7 is 49! With God, there is always more—more than we can ever imagine. So our holy season of Easter is even more than “fullness times fullness.” It’s “fullness times fullness” and then some: 7 x 7+1. That’s what love is like: more than we can ever imagine. That’s what heaven is going to be like: more than we can ever imagine.
The fifty days are days for looking for the risen Lord among us, for hearing in each other’s stories of rising from the big and small deaths, days when we experience something of Christ’s triumphs. That’s why we look to the newly baptized, robed in bright new clothes and oily with gladness: At Easter, they died and rose with Christ! Now they take their places with us. Together, like the apostles who were so full of the Spirit that people thought they were drunk, we rush about with good and giddy news: Death is not the last word! Life and love are forever! And slowly, painstakingly, we work together, together with Christ, to change this world into the world to come. Sing Alleluia!
Copyright © 1997 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1800 North Hermitage Avenue, Chicago IL 60622-1101; 1-800-933-1800. Text by David Philippart.