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Easter: A 50 Day Season

Easter is a 50 day “season” in the Catholic Church. We need this extended period of time to receive the revelation of Jesus’ resurrection. We also need this time to allow God to work in us. While God works in us always, this is an intensive time of grace. The Season will culminate in Pentecost on Sunday, June 9th. 

This season of 50 days co-incides with “mystagogia.” This time is special for those who have been baptized and received into the Church at the Easter Vigil. Mystagogia is the 50 day time of further catechesis and learning what it means to be Catholic and a disciple of Jesus Christ. As in Lent, we journey with these candidates, now the elect, on their journey of faith.

During the Easter season we celebrate in an intense way, the Octave (8 days) of Jesus’ resurrection. Each day is a solemnity culminating on Mercy Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter. During the Easter season we read from the Acts of the Apostles. Composed by the Gospel writer and doctor, St. Luke, this book gives us an inside look at the early Church and how God worked in them and through them. Jesus’ resurrection changed them personally and enabled them to face their fears and courageously “turn the world upside down” with the message of salvation. God worked with this small group of people to revolutionize the known world then and even to our day!

We all need these 50 days to allow God to recreate our thought life, imaginations, moral life, creativity/passion as well as our emotions and relationships. We are all a work in progress and God is in the midst of raising us up in every dimension of our life. Resurrection happens when we face our fears bravely. Instead of being negative, we believe for the best and live optimistically. Rather than participating in the self-sabotage of the past. We live the risen life when we reach out to others and energetically give ourselves to dreaming dreams and living with Passion!

I celebrated a Sunrise Easter Mass on the beach in Florida for the third year in a row. I was one of 3000 people present. 

When I arrived at 5:55 am, it was still dark but a faint glow was just beginning over the Atlantic Ocean. As people were gathering I stood in silent prayer. It was a transcendent moment. I could sense God in the peacefulness. Mass began promptly at 6:30 am, before the sunrise. We sang, listened to God’s word and worshiped in faith. I looked out over the ocean, a scene I know so well, and the ocean looked different. It wasn’t familiar. It was like a place I had never been before…another transcendent moment. We sang the song “Morning has broken” as the Sun burst over the horizon.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I grasped that this moment was like the original moment of creation. Even though eons have passed, it was fresh and brand new, to be enjoyed. Several times during the Mass I experienced a loss of self. What we were celebrating was beyond me and the self I had come to know so well. I was alive, awake and aware without the baggage of self. The word “ecstasy” means to be “beside one’s self.” It was Easter morning. Special. Magical. Mystical.

There were many distractions. Babies crying. Friends to be attended to. People shuffling around. Planes flying overhead that broke the mood. There were many ups and downs, peaks and valleys to that Mass. We celebrated the truth of Jesus’ victory over death and our worship was profound.

The Easter season is like that Mass. There will be many ups and downs. Moments of peace and transcendence. A sense of God’s grace and working. Going beyond self and allowing grace to transform. Most of the season is filled with the downs of distractions and the real stuff of life. Embrace all the ups and downs. Being human is a roller coaster ride of peaks and valleys. Stay faithful along the journey and peaks will come!

We all want the appearances and visitations from the Holy Spirit during this season. The “suddenlies” that God offers will come in various ways. There are insights, inspirations and moments of peace. Suddenly the word makes sense. You become aware of personal change and God working in you. Some of these touches from God will be dramatic and some not so dramatic. Trust grace.

The great cry of the early disciples is “We have seen the Lord!” Yes, indeed, Jesus is Risen! Death has been conquered and we have a living Hope! However, Jesus taught, “Blessed are they who believe without seeing…”

As sure as the Sunrise, Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead! This is our true and sure faith. May you be renewed and recreated in this Easter season. May your faith in God increase and I pray you will experience transcendent moments in the journey. A blessed Easter Season of 50 days to you all! Sincerely, Fr. Cedric Pisegna  



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