Resurrection Sunday - 5th April 2015

What is commonly known as Easter Sunday is called Sunday of the Resurrection in the Roman Missal. Mass on this day brings the Triduum to a conclusion and ushers in the great fifty days of the season of Easter Time. After 40 days of fasting, 50 days of feasting lie ahead!

The first reading for Mass throughout Easter Time is taken from the Acts of the Apostles. On Resurrection Sunday it is always the account in chapter 10 of the sermon that Peter delivered in the house of Cornelius. Peter spells out the core of Christian belief and the message of the resurrection is proclaimed loud and clear. Peter says that the prophets testified that Jesus would rise from the dead and it is now the task of all believers to testify to the risen Christ through their preaching.

The psalm that follows is an acclamation of joy proclaiming “This is the day the Lord has made”. Through the use of the present tense, the psalm moves the celebration of Easter beyond a mere historical remembrance to a reality in which we participate still.

There are two choices for the second reading today. The passage from Colossians speaks of how Jesus’ resurrection has implications for the behaviour of believers. In the alternative reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians we hear a comparison between the celebrations of the resurrection and of Passover.

The Gospel reading today is John’s account of the resurrection. If it is considered appropriate, perhaps because the Easter Vigil has not been celebrated at a particular place, one of the Gospel readings set down for the Vigil may be used instead.

Easter Sunday is one of only two celebrations during the year when there is an obligatory sequence (Pentecost is the other). A sequence is a long hymn text that follows the second reading and leads into the Gospel acclamation. Originally it served to embellish and prolong the Gospel procession on high feast days.

It is a challenge to liturgy planners to ensure that the sequence is a joyful element of the celebration. One way of doing this is to sing or recite the sequence as the Book of the Gospels is carried through the assembly in solemn fashion accompanied by candles and incense, culminating in the acclamation: “Alleluia, alleluia! Christ has become our paschal sacrifice; let us feast with joy in the Lord. Alleluia!”

On Sunday of the Resurrection the recitation of the Creed may be replaced by the renewal of baptismal promises. In this form, worshippers proclaim their beliefs as responses to questions in the same way as happens in the celebration of baptism. This profession of faith is followed by the sprinkling of all present with holy water. The water is drawn from the baptismal font which was blessed at the Vigil.

The Missal says that it is appropriate to conclude the celebration with the Solemn Blessing used at the Easter Vigil. The priest’s words of dismissal and the people’s response on this day, and every day throughout the Easter octave, are followed by “Alleluia, alleluia”.

Happy Easter!

Elizabeth Harrington