Port Coquitlam, B.C.
The season of Easter is a joyous, celebratory season. It begins with celebrating Christ’s resurrection and ends by celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus. Christ’s ascension into Heaven is celebrated just prior to Pentecost. The Easter season lasts through Pentecost.
While Easter marks the end of the paschal fast, the end of the celebration of Holy Week, and the end of repentance and conversion for which Lent prepared the community, it is much more a beginning. It is the beginning of a new season of grace and a time of joy and thanksgiving, for Easter is not one day or one solemnity—it is a fifty day celebration, and the fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday together comprise what the General Instruction terms "the great Sunday".
In 2017, the Easter season starts with the Easter Vigil on April 15 and ends on June 4.
At Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For Catholics, Easter Sunday comes at the end of 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving known as Lent. Through spiritual struggle and self-denial, we have prepared ourselves to die spiritually with Christ on Good Friday, the day of His Crucifixion, so that we can rise again with Him in new life on Easter.
Easter is a day of celebration because it represents the fulfillment of our faith as Christians. St. Paul wrote that, unless Christ rose from the dead, our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:17). Through his death, Christ saved mankind from bondage to sin, and He destroyed the hold that death has on all of us; but it is His Resurrection that gives us the promise of new life, both in this world and the next.
Easter celebrations begin with the Easter Vigil service, which takes place after sundown on Holy Saturday. At the Vigil, those who have undergone a long process of study and preparation known as the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). Their baptism parallels Christ's own Death and Resurrection, as they die to sin and rise to new life in the Kingdom of God.
In 2017, Easter Vigil is April 15 and Easter Sunday is April 16.
The celebration of the Easter Vigil is the beginning of the season of Easter. The Vigil and Easter Sunday are feasts of new birth, new beginnings, salvation renewed, and humanity restored to the Lord.
The Feast of Divine Mercy, celebrated on the Octave of Easter (the Sunday after Easter Sunday), is a relatively new addition to the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Celebrating the Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ, as revealed by Christ Himself to Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, this feast was extended to the entire Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II on April 30, 2000, the day that he canonized Saint Faustina.
In 2017, Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on April 23.
The Ascension of Our Lord, which occurred 40 days after Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Easter, is the final act of our redemption that Christ began on Good Friday. On this day, the risen Christ, in the sight of His apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven.
Christ's bodily Ascension foreshadows our own entrance into Heaven not simply as souls, after our death, but as glorified bodies, after the resurrection of the dead at the Final Judgment. In redeeming mankind, Christ not only offered salvation to our souls but began the restoration of the material world itself to the glory that God intended before Adam's fall.
In 2017, Ascension Sunday is May 28 and is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Diocese of Vancouver.
The Feast of the Ascension, 40th day of Easter, is a Holy Day of Obligation. The Feast commemorates Christ's Ascension into Heaven from Mount Olivet 40 days after He rose from the dead.
Pentecost Sunday, or Whitsunday, is the 50th day after Easter – counting both Easter and Pentecost. Pentecost commemorates the day (50 days after Jesus’ resurrection) when the apostles were gathered together and a flame rested upon the shoulders of the apostles and they began to speak in tongues (languages), by the power of the Holy Spirit.