The 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated as one feast day, or, as St. Athanasius described it, one “great Sunday.”
That sense of one feast day is evident in the preface prayed throughout the octave, including today: “It is truly right and just . . . at all times to acclaim you, O Lord, but on this day, above all, to laud you more gloriously when Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.” For the rest of the 50 days, we will pray “to acclaim you, O Lord, but in this time, above all to laud you more gloriously … “
Today we close the octave and, as we do on every Sunday, we continue to sing God’s praises using the Gloria and we profess the creed. The lighted paschal candle is a symbol of the risen Christ among us and remains in the sanctuary, near the altar or ambo, until the end of the day of Pentecost.
While this Second Sunday of Easter has also been designated as “Divine Mercy Sunday,” that does not change the paschal character, the prayers and readings of the day.
Today and during the Sundays of Easter, it is also appropriate to use the blessing and sprinkling of water instead of the customary penitential act. The sprinkling rite reminds us of our baptism renewed during the Lenten days and Easter celebration. After the special blessing of water during Easter, the priest sprinkles us while we sing a hymn or chant. When he returns to the chair, he prays the absolution, “May almighty God cleanse us of our sins, and through the celebration of this Eucharist, make us worthy to share at the table of his Kingdom.” Then the Gloria is sung.
After the homily, we profess our faith. During Lent and Easter, it is especially appropriate for the community to use the Apostles’ Creed, the first baptismal creed, instead of the Nicene Creed for this profession of faith. This version also includes the profound bow (body bow) at the description of the incarnation: “who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.”
At the end of the liturgy there are two elements that are unique to this time within the liturgical year. There is a special solemn blessing for Easter time, asking that God “give us gladness by his blessing, make us heirs to an eternal inheritance, and unite us with Christ in the homeland of heaven.” The blessing also refers to the gift of redemption and adoption we have received through the resurrection of Christ and his redeeming work.
For the last time until next Easter, the dismissal has the added double alleluia: “Go forth the Mass is ended, alleluia, alleluia,” or “Go in peace, alleluia, alleluia.” We respond, “Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia.”
In former days, banners and bumper stickers carried the slogan, “we are an Easter people and ‘Alleluia’ is our song.” During these 50 days of Easter we continue to sing “alleluia” and to meditate on the gift of risen life, freedom and salvation which is ours in Jesus Christ.
Sr. Rehrauer is the diocesan director of Evangelization, Living Justice and Worship.