The Eastertide Rolls In
by: Christopher D’Angelo ’16
Growing up, my family and I went to mass only once or twice a month, and I was not seriously involved in a church until I came to Dartmouth. As a result, for much of my childhood, my knowledge of all things Catholic did not extend too far beyond my CCD classes and a basic understanding of the Bible. Even now, as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter, I notice a striking deficiency in my understanding of Catholicism, namely my complete ignorance for the Easter season. While many people, non-Christians inclusive, have a decent understanding of the season of Lent and the associated sacrifice, it seems to me that the fifty-day period following Easter, known as Eastertide, has been largely neglected in our Catholic consciousness. Beginning on Easter Sunday, the first eight days of Eastertide are intended as a period for new members of the Church to contemplate the new life into which they have been received. For those who have completed the RCIA program and received the sacrament of Baptism, Confirmation, or the Eucharist, this is the beginning of a new chapter in their life. This initial octave of Easter is a time for reflection newness, as well as a time to begin living in a different, fuller way. These eight days culminate on the second Sunday of Easter, which since 2000 has been observed as Divine Mercy Sunday. On this day, based on Saint Faustina’s devotion to the Divine Mercy, Catholics are encouraged to make a Confession and receive the Eucharist, all the while contemplating the fact that Jesus died for the salvation of humankind. Forty days after Easter, we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus to commemorate when Christ rose to heaven under his own power in his resurrected body. In the Ecclesiastical Province of Boston, which includes the diocese of Manchester and thus us here at Dartmouth, the Ascension is celebrated on that Thursday, as opposed to being commemorated on the following Sunday. Nine days later, we commemorate Pentecost Sunday, when the Holy Spirit appeared in the Upper Room to the Apostles, who then went out and preached to Jews of many different languages. Often, Pentecost is referred to as “the birthday of the Church,” since with the descent of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s mission is completed and the New Covenant is initiated. But what does the season of Eastertide mean for a college student who goes to mass once or twice a month, and is wondering what to do after Easter? It is a season to reflect daily on the renewal of our baptismal vows that we made on Easter Sunday: to reject Satan, to affirm our belief in Jesus and the Resurrection, and to remember the unity of the Church. It is a time to do as Jesus taught right before the Ascension, to go out and “be witnesses…to the ends of the earth.” Finally, it is a season to rejoice in the sacrifice and Resurrection which we commemorated on that first Easter Sunday, and continue to let the Alleluias ring out on high.