More about the Mysterious Season of Easter

More about the Mysterious Season of Easter

Last week’s column concluded with two questions; the first about key liturgical symbols of the Easter season, the second about the scripture readings.

The central Easter Vigil symbols of water and light are used throughout the fifty days of the Easter season. The paschal candle is placed near the ambo or altar until Pentecost and is lit during liturgical celebrations to remind us that Christ is indeed our light. After Pentecost evening prayer, it is placed next to the font for the rest of the year.

The use of the rite of sprinkling is very appropriate in the Easter season as it is a tangible reminder of the Vigil and initiation. The baptismal font may be highlighted by placing it near the entry to the worship space or in the centre of the assembly if moveable, or by decorating it with greenery if not.

White or gold, the colour of the Easter Season, is another key symbol of this time of joyous celebration. Vestments, banners and decorations of gold and/or white are used throughout this period until the red of Pentecost appears.

Symbols are not always ‘things’. The presence of the neophytes (newly baptised members of the church) at liturgical celebrations is a symbol of new life in Christ, a reminder of our own baptism and a sign of hope to the community. Every effort should be made to have the neophytes and newly received present each week, preferably as a group and at different Mass times, so that during the season every member of the parish community has contact with them on as many occasions as possible.

The attention of the assembly can be drawn to these new members of the community by seating them in a special place in the church along with their godparents and catechists, referring to them in the homily, praying for them during the general intercessions and having them bring forward the bread and wine in the procession of gifts.

What about the scripture readings during the season of Easter?

Usually the first reading on Sundays has been selected from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). For the seven Sundays of Easter however it comes from the Acts of the Apostles. In these passages we hear the post-resurrection story of the Christian community in Jerusalem. It is interesting to compare our own experiences with their struggles and joys. Even the practical aspects of community life happened within the context of the resurrection of Jesus and the accompanying gift of the spirit.

The gospel on Sundays of the Easter season is generally not from the evangelist whose ‘year’ it is (Mark in 2009). Except for the 3rd Sunday of Easter and the Ascension, we hear excerpts from the Gospel according to John during these seven weeks. The readings from John focus on how Christ’s dying and rising is shared with us and on the demands this makes on us. They speak of the life of those who have been baptised, of those who have joined in Jesus’ Passover meal and of their life in the company of the risen Lord.

The readings of the Easter season look at the same great event over and over again from a different angle. Through the scriptures we keep returning to the inexhaustible mystery of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.


Elizabeth Harrington