Feasting on Easter
How many of us today really know how to feast on Easter?
by Robert R. Allard | Source:
Sure, we look forward to Easter Sunday every year, but how many people truly understand the incredible blessings that are awaiting us at this special time of year? It is the greatest feast!
More and more people are starting to realize the importance of celebrating the full eight days that begins on Easter Sunday and goes right on through to the following Sunday. Each day of that week is like another Sunday with the days being called: Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday…. up until and including Divine Mercy Sunday. Although the Easter season ends on Pentecost, the feast itself last for eight days.
Pope John Paul II understood this very well and established a special feast on that octave Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, so that all may receive in great abundance. This is the only Sunday that has a very special plenary indulgence attached to it. The octave (an eight day period and the eighth day itself) has always been a very important tradition to celebrate an important feast and Easter is the very biggest.
Why did Pope John Paul establish such a feast? Because this was a request from Our Lord to Sister Faustina during in his apparitions to her.
The Apparitions of Our Lord Jesus Christ to Saint Faustina
In 1931, Jesus appeared to Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, who was then a sister from the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, in Poland. Our Lord told Sister Faustina that she was going to prepare the world for his Second Coming and that He was going to pour out his mercy on a special feast.
He told her to paint an image of him just as he looked when he appeared to her with red and pale rays coming from his heart and then to have it blessed and venerated on the first Sunday after Easter throughout the world. Jesus also told Sister Faustina that he wanted that Sunday to be established as the Feast of Mercy where he would be pouring out his mercy like a “whole ocean of graces”.
Pope John Paul II established that Feast of Mercy during the Jubilee Year 2000, saying that he had fulfilled the will of Christ. He then issued the special plenary indulgence right after in 2002. Another amazing fact is that Pope John Paul II died right on the vigil of that new feast. Truly a divine sign!
Jesus made a special promise saying that the soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of the Divine Mercy would obtain the “complete” forgiveness of sins and punishment.
What a great enticement to get people to come back to church on that Sunday following Easter! In simple terms, you could say that the Church backed up that promise with the plenary indulgence.
But the Church didn’t stop there. The Church has also included in the special plenary indulgence the duties of priests to tell everyone about it, to make extra time for confessions, and to lead the prayers for the indulgence after the masses. The instructions for priests include proclaiming the indulgence in the most suitable manner.
The importance of Octaves
The greatest doctors of the Church: St. Gregory, St. Thomas, and St. Augustine all pointed to the octave as being the greatest day of the festival without taking anything away from the feast itself. Even St. Thomas the Apostle called for a special feast on the Easter Octave. If you look into the earliest liturgical document attributed to the Apostles, you will see an entry by St. Thomas calling for a special feast on that Sunday after Easter.
Now with the proper emphasis on celebrating the octave, we have so much more to look forward to. Now we can also offer the Easter-only, fallen-away, and lapsed Catholics a great incentive and something else to look forward to each year. It is very similar to the Old Testament Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) which was the last day of an annual celebration that obtained for God’s people the yearly forgiveness of all sins. God told Moses that it was to be for them “the Sabbath of Sabbaths”.
In the same way, the last and final day of our greatest feast, can yield for us the total forgiveness of sins and punishment every year until Jesus comes in Glory. We are to always expect Jesus’ return. We cannot let anyone perish knowing full well that there is this great feast on the Octave of Easter that can obtain, even for the most terrible of sinners, the total forgiveness of all their sins and punishment.
All that it is required is for us to go to Confession (usually within 3 weeks, before or after) and receive Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday (the Octave of Easter). It is not only the forgiveness of sins and punishment that we will be receiving on that day, but a “whole ocean of graces” that Jesus promises that will be poured out on souls and he said that the worst sinners will receive in the greatest abundance.
The Feast of the Divine Mercy is fast becoming a great evangelization tool. People have been returning to the practice of their faith, in great numbers, and on fire! Some have likened their experience of an outpouring of an ocean of graces to being born-again. Just like in the parable of the Prodigal Son, fallen-away and luke-warm Catholics can be made whole again and be fully restored to a royal dignity through Jesus Christ.
For more information on the Feast of the Divine Mercy, please visit
www.DivineMercySunday.com. They have Church documents, suggestions for Divine Mercy Sunday homilies, bulletin inserts, images, and articles for use in newspapers and magazines.
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