Catholics recognize Easter — when Christ rises from the dead after sacrificing his life for all of humanity — as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox. But, as it turns out, they can continue saying “Happy Easter” into June.
Easter lasts for a total of 50 days, from Easter Sunday until the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Christ.
This year, 2022, Easter runs from April 17 until June 5.
Catholics observe Easter in different stages. Easter Sunday is the greatest Sunday of the year, and it marks the start of the “Easter Octave,” or the eight days that stretch from the first to the second Sunday of Easter (also known as Divine Mercy Sunday). The Church celebrates each of these eight days as Solemnities of the Lord — a direct extension of Easter Sunday.
The entire Easter season lasts 50 days, and includes the Solemnity of the Ascension of Christ, which falls on the 40th day of Easter, which this year is May 26. It ends with Pentecost, which is derived from the Greek word “pentecoste,” meaning “50th.”
“The fifty days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated in joy and exultation as one feast day, indeed as one ‘great Sunday,’” according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “These are the days above all others in which the Alleluia is sung.”
The USCCB calls Easter “the most important of all liturgical times.”
“It celebrates Jesus’s victory of sin and death and salvation for mankind,” the U.S. bishops say. “It is God’s greatest act of love to redeem mankind.”
In the traditional Roman rite
In the traditional form of the Roman rite, Easter is known properly as Paschaltide, which includes three parts: the season of Easter, Ascensiontide, and the Octave of Pentecost. It thus lasts one week longer than the Easter season in the calendar of the Missal of St. Paul VI.
The season of Easter begins with the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, and runs through the afternoon of the Vigil of the Ascension.
Ascensiontide begins the evening before the Ascension, with First Vespers of the feast, and ends the afternoon of the Vigil of Pentecost – marking the first novena.
The Octave of Pentecost is an extension of the feast of Pentecost, beginning with the Vigil Mass of Pentecost and ending the afternoon of the following Saturday, which this year falls June 11.
Pope Francis on Palm Sunday 2022 in St. Peter’s Square. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Vatican City, Apr 21, 2022 / 06:40 am (CNA).
Pope Francis has joined the head of the United Nations and the leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in a call for a four-day truce in Ukraine for the Triduum and Easter.
The Eastern Orthodox churches and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church follow the Julian calendar, meaning they will celebrate Easter on April 24 this year.
The appeal for an Easter truce was launched on April 19 by Antonio Guterres, secretary general of the UN, in agreement with Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk.
“Easter is a season for renewal, resurrection and hope. It is a time for reflection on the meaning of suffering, sacrifice, death — and rebirth. It is meant to be a moment of unity,” Guterres said at UN headquarters in New York
“This year, Holy Week is being observed under the cloud of a war that represents the total negation of the Easter message,” he said, calling for a four-day pause on fighting, beginning on Holy Thursday, April 21, to allow for the opening of humanitarian corridors and the safe delivery of aid.
The Vatican announced on April 21 that Pope Francis had joined the UN chief’s appeal, after the pope had called for an Easter truce in Ukraine during Palm Sunday Mass on April 10.
“In the knowledge that nothing is impossible for God, they invoke the Lord so that the population trapped in war zones may be evacuated and peace may soon be restored, and they ask those in charge of the Nations to listen to the people’s cry for peace,” a Vatican press release said.
At the end of Mass on Palm Sunday 2022, Pope Francis urged the laying down of weapons for an “Easter truce.”
Before an estimated 65,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said that “nothing is impossible for God.”
“He can even bring an end to a war whose end is not in sight, a war that daily places before our eyes heinous massacres and atrocious cruelty committed against defenseless civilians. Let us pray about this.”
Pope Francis led the “Regina Caeli” on Monday, April 18, 2022, at St. Peter’s Square. / Daniel Ibáñez | CNA
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 18, 2022 / 10:40 am (CNA).
Fear is like a tomb that can “bury us,” Pope Francis said Monday, but the Risen Lord’s words to the women who were the first to announce his resurrection apply to us, as well: “Be not afraid.”
Jesus knows that “our fears are our daily enemies” and that “our fears hide from the great fear, that of death: fear of fading away, or losing loved ones, of being sick, of not being able to cope further,” the pope said.
But Easter marks the day that Jesus conquered death, he added, “so no one else can tell us in a more convincing way: ‘Do not be afraid.’”
Pope Francis spoke Monday afternoon to a large crowd in St. Peter’s Square on La Pasquetta, or “Little Easter,” a national holiday in Italy. The day’s Gospel reading, from the twenty-eighth chapter of Matthew, records how Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” encounter Jesus while running to bring the news of his rising to his disciples.
“Brother, sister, who believe in Christ, do not be afraid! Jesus says: ‘I tasted death for you, I took your pain upon myself. Now I have risen to tell you: I am here with you forever. Do not be afraid!'” Pope Francis said.
The Holy Father noted that the Lord gives the women another instruction: “Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Fear “closes us in on ourselves,” the pope said, but we can overcome fear by answering Jesus’ call to proclaim the resurrection to others.
We may doubt our ability to share that news, but it is important to note that “the women were not perhaps the most suitable and prepared to proclaim the resurrection” either, the pope said. Nevertheless, “that did not matter to the Lord.”
Jesus cares only that “we go forth and proclaim … because the Easter joy is not to be kept to oneself,” he said.
“The joy of Christ is strengthened by giving it, it multiplies sharing it,” Pope Francis added. “If we open ourselves and bear the Gospel, our hearts will open and overcome fear. This is the secret: We proclaim and overcome fear.”
In addition to fear, there is another obstacle to sharing the Gospel, the pope noted: falsehood.
Falsehood can be seen in the “counter-proclamation” of the soldiers who guarded the tomb and lied saying that Jesus’s body was stolen by his disciples, the pope said.
“The Gospel says [the guards] were paid ‘a sum of money,’ a good sum, and received these instructions: ‘Tell people, “His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep”’’” Pope Francis said.
But there is a contradiction: If the soldiers were sleeping, how did they see the disciples steal Jesus’ body? The payment they received explains their contrived narrative. Money is “the other lord that Jesus says we must never serve,” the pope said.
“Before the Risen Lord, there is another ‘god’ – the god of money that dirties and ruins everything, that closes the door to salvation,” Pope Francis said. “This is present everywhere in daily life with the temptation to adore the god of money.”
Pope Francis said that when deceit and lies are discovered by the media within the lives of people, it causes scandal.
“But let us give a name also to the obscurity and falsehoods we have in ourselves! And let us place our own darkness and falsehoods before the light of the Risen Jesus,” he said.
Jesus wants to “bring hidden things to light to make us transparent and luminous witnesses to the joy of the Gospel, of the truth that will make you free,” he said.
He then asked “Mary, Mother of the Risen One,” to “help us overcome our fears and give us passion for the truth.”
Pope Francis celebrates Mass in St. Peter’s Square for Easter 2022 / Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Vatican City, Apr 17, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).
Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated Easter Mass for around 50,000 people in St. Peter’s Square — the first Easter Mass with the public after two years of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
On a sunny and windy morning in Rome, Pope Francis also participated in the “Resurrexit,” an ancient rite honoring an icon of the Holy Savior.
The ritual sequence, sung in Latin, recalls how the apostle Peter, of whom the pope is the successor, was one of the first witnesses to Christ’s resurrection, after St. Mary Magdalene.
While the “Resurrexit” was sung, deacons opened the panels of the icon of the Holy Savior next to the altar.
Pope Francis then sprinkled holy water before proceeding with the rest of Mass.
For Easter 2022, the Vatican’s altar was decorated with flowers from the Netherlands, the continuation of a 37-year tradition.
Pope Francis concelebrated the Easter Sunday Mass with 280 priests, 25 bishops, and 23 cardinals. Students from the North American College Seminary in Rome were ministers at the pope’s Mass.
The Gospel reading, John 20:1-9, was proclaimed in Latin and Greek. The passage recounts the moment in which Mary Magdalene and the apostles Peter and John found the empty tomb after Jesus’ resurrection.
Instead of giving a homily after the Gospel, following a custom of the last few years, Pope Francis kept a silence of several minutes for prayer and reflection.
After the Mass, he greeted the crowds in St. Peter’s Square and the street outside from the Popemobile, before going to the Hall of Blessings.