A Guide to Easter 2021

Rejoicing in the Resurrection

The glory of the Resurrection is seen in this painting of the Risen Jesus Christ holding the cross in the cathedral in Ravenna, Italy.
The glory of the Resurrection is seen in this painting of the Risen Jesus Christ holding the cross in the cathedral in Ravenna, Italy. (photo: VIVIDA PHOTO PC / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM)

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” — Luke 24: 1-5


‘Feast of Feasts’

In the liturgical year, a solemnity marks the highest celebration of a central mystery of our faith or a saint of premier importance. Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, is the “Feast of feasts” and the “Solemnity of solemnities,” because it is the single greatest feast of the entire liturgical year and “fills the liturgical year with its brilliance” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1168). It illuminates all of our worship and is the center-point of our faith: “… if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians:15-14).


Easter Octave

The celebration of Easter reaches its pinnacle at the dramatic Easter vigil, but a feast this momentous cannot be confined to a single day. The Octave of Easter lasts for eight days, until the Second Sunday of Easter. Even then, we continue the celebration for a full 50 days, until the feast of Pentecost. 

“The 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated in joyful exultation as one feast day, or better yet, as one ‘Great Sunday.’” — Congregation for Divine Worship, General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar

Additionally, every Sunday is a “little Easter,” and this is why Sundays are not included in the 40 days of Lent.


Did You Know? 

Easter is the “Christian Passover.” In most European languages, the word for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection is the same as the word used for the Jewish feast of Passover and is a derivative of the Hebrew Pesach (in Latin, Pascha). This is because Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament festival of Passover, the remembrance of God delivering his people. Through his passion, death and resurrection, he frees us from the slavery of sin and death. 

For this reason, Jesus Christ is called the “Paschal Lamb.”


Christ Is Risen!

The Paschal Greeting, or the Easter Acclamation, is an ancient practice still used in many places to this day. One person greets another with “Christ is risen!” and the other replies, “Truly, he is risen!” or “He is risen, indeed!”


Easter Sacraments

Baptism, Eucharist and confirmation are the three sacraments of initiation. 

Catechumens receive these sacraments as they enter the Church during the Easter vigil, but all the faithful have the opportunity to strengthen their own sacramental life by renewing their baptismal promises during the Easter liturgy.


“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” — John 11:25-26