Liturgy LinesReturn to Liturgy Lines
Easter Time & Christ’s Presence - 27th March 2016
The Season of Easter
Just as there is a time of preparation leading up to Easter – the 40 days of Lent, there is a period after Easter when we continue the joy of the resurrection – the 50-day season of Easter, or Easter Time.
Perhaps the best way to understand the Easter season, which runs from Easter Sunday until Pentecost, is to consider it as an overflow of the Vigil and a time for unfolding the Easter mysteries. For those who were baptised at Easter, it is the period of mystagogy when the “spiritual and heavenly mysteries of the Church are explained”.
The continuity between the Easter Vigil and Eastertime is seen in the worship environment. Banners, hangings and other decorations for the Vigil remain in place until Pentecost. The central symbols of water and light are used throughout the fifty days. The paschal candle is placed near the ambo or altar until Pentecost and is lit during all liturgical celebrations to remind us that Christ is indeed our light.
The document on the liturgical year says that the fifty days of the Easter season are “the days for the singing of the Alleluia”. In this “week of weeks” (Easter Time is seven weeks long) we sing our Alleluias, to the risen Christ and celebrate our new life in him.
Christ’s Presence at Mass
A key paragraph of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy issued in 1963 says:
Christ is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of his minister, but especially under the eucharistic elements. He is present in his word, since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. He is present when the Church prays and sings, for he promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them". (CSL #7)
More than fifty years on, does our celebration of Mass demonstrate that Christ is present in these four ways?
During the Eucharistic Prayer, we pay attention to the words prayed on our behalf by the presider and join in the responses. The sacred species are handled with care and respect. Everything speaks of honour and reverence for Christ present in the consecrated elements.
Because it is Christ who speaks when the scriptures are proclaimed at Mass, we must also give our full attention to the Liturgy of the Word. The lectionary (the book of readings) needs to be attractive and handled with reverence.
Christ is present in those with whom we worship, so we sit with others and acknowledge their presence, share the sign of peace graciously and join wholeheartedly in the responses, gestures and singing.
Actions speak louder than words. It should be clear in what we do and how we do it that we truly believe that Christ is present, not only in the sacred elements but also in the assembly, in the word and in the priest presider, when we worship together.