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50 Day Easter Season

May 16, 2012

The 50-day Easter season, which extends through the celebration of Pentecost, offers marvelous opportunities for ongoing spiritual growth. By the third century, Christian communities used this season for “mystagogical catechesis,” which provided the newly baptized neophytes with further instruction in the faith they professed at the Easter Vigil. The revised RCIA, initiated by Vatican II, calls for mystagogical instruction in the period after Easter to help the new members of the church live the Christian life more fully. Now, fifty years after the Council began, it seems opportune to emphasize again that the Easter season is a rich spiritual resource not only for neophytes but also for all Christians striving to deepen our relationship with the risen Christ.

Most Catholics have a clear understanding of the 40-­‐day Lenten season as a unified and structured time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving leading to a more fruitful celebration of Easter. Many of us, however, do not have a similar sense of the Easter season as an integrated period with its own resources for spiritual growth. In popular piety, Easter is a one day event. Large crowds attend festive Sunday Masses. The liturgy celebrates the resurrection, the central mystery of our faith. After Mass, family gatherings generally extend the joyful mood of the day. By that evening, the popular celebration of Easter is all over.

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