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Resurrection Sunday & Easter Octave - 20th March 2016
Mass on Easter Sunday, or Sunday of the Resurrection, brings the Triduum to a close 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 Resurrection Sunday it is always the sermon that Peter delivered in the house of Cornelius from the book of Acts. Peter spells out the core of Christian belief and the message of the resurrection is proclaimed loud and clear.
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: “Alleluia, alleluia! Christ has become our paschal sacrifice; let us feast with joy in the Lord. Alleluia!”
On Easter Sunday the recitation of the Creed may be replaced by the renewal of baptismal promises where worshippers proclaim their beliefs as responses to questions. Then all present are sprinkled with holy water drawn from the baptismal font that was blessed at the Vigil.
The celebration concludes with a solemn three-part blessing over the people and the priest’s words of dismissal. The people’s response today, and every day throughout the Easter octave, has the words ‘Alleluia, alleluia’ added. We are sent forth as Easter people to bring joy, freedom and hope to the world.
Octave of Easter
Just as the church has a week of preparation leading up to Easter - Holy Week, the liturgical calendar provides a week after Easter to continue the joy of the resurrection – the Octave (8 days) of Easter.
The Easter Octave is the period from Easter Sunday through to the following Saturday. The days of this week are called ‘Easter Monday’, ‘Easter Tuesday’, and so on. In the early church, the newly initiated wore their white baptismal garments in public for the entire time and some even abstained for a whole week from their daily bath!
According to the table of liturgical days, no solemnity or commemoration can take precedence over the days of the Easter Octave, nor may Ritual Masses (nuptial Masses, Confirmation Masses, etc) be celebrated during this week.
Masses during Easter Week include several features that set them apart from weekday Masses at other times of the year. The Gloria is part of the Introductory Rites and the Sequence from Easter Sunday may also be sung or said before the Gospel Acclamation.
A common preface, the Preface of Easter 1, is used at Masses on the days of Easter Week:
In this time above all
(we) laud you yet more gloriously,
when Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.
For he is the true Lamb
who has taken away the sins of the world;
by dying he has destroyed our death,
and by rising, restored our life.
As on Easter Sunday, Masses finish with the Easter form of the Dismissal and the response: “Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia!”