Monday, April 1, 2013


In Italy, Easter Monday is called Pasquetta ("Little Easter"). Easter Monday is still a legal holiday in several countries - making it a sort of socio-civic prolongation of the great Easter festivity before everyone resumes the routine of the regular work week.  In past centuries, Easter Monday was also widely observed in the Church as a holyday of obligation (and still is, I believe, in Germany). Its ancient importance is suggested by the assignment of St. Peter's Basilica as the stational church for today. In the traditional (pre-1970) liturgy, today was one of the days (together with tomorrow and Saturday) when the Paschal Candle was supposed to be lit this week.

The papal liturgies of the Easter Triduum - culminating in the Urbi et Orbi Blessing from the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica - are solemn and splendid celebrations. In the U.S., most parishes probably put their greatest effort into celebrating the Triduum services worthily and well. The effort typically pays off in beautiful and spiritually energizing ceremonies, that can be quite uplifting without being "showy" or "creative" in a secular sense. Almost universally, of course, the best attended of all the Triduum liturgies is Easter Sunday morning. As expected, we here had bigger than usual attendance at Masses on Easter Sunday. Of course, that can make the return to more typical, smaller-sized congregations afterwards almost feel like something of a let-down. (I'd say "Low Sunday" was very aptly named!)

Something about the style and pace of modern life makes it a challenge to sustain solemnity. Overall, I think we're better at building up to festivity than at prolonging it. That makes the Easter Octave - and actually the whole seven-week Easter season - something of a challenge.

When I was a kid, Catholic schools routinely closed all of Easter Week. So it was easy to get into the mindset of Easter Week as vacation time. That may do something of a disservice to the liturgical calendar, but it may be beneficial in other ways.  "Celebration," one of the priests on the formation team when I was in seminary once said, "takes work." Certainly,  celebrating the solemn ceremonies of the Easter Triduum in smaller churches can sometimes seem like a lot of work, and can easily leave one simultaneously both exhilarated and exhausted as a result! Personally, I felt that combination in myself as I finished up at church and headed home for my solitary Easter afternoon.

So, having celebrated the Church's liturgy this past week with all the solemnity I could muster,  I am now planning to observe Easter Week this year by taking off today and the three days following for some (hopefully restorative) rest and catching up with friends in New York.

A blessed Easter Week - and Easter season - to all!

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