Why Easter lasts 50 days in Church?

By Sem. Robert Bigabwarugaba

Easter is the heart of the Church’s Liturgy and liturgical year. The Church gives us fifty days to give thanksgiving to God for the gift of Christ’s victory over sin and the opening of heaven to all men. Through our celebration of this season, let us strive to deepen our understanding of this great mystery and bear witness to Christ through our lives. 

After Lent’s forty days of preparation for Easter, it would be anticlimactic to celebrate the feast of  Easter for only one day. Jesus is risen! He is alive! Holy Mother Church in her wisdom ensures that we celebrate the resurrection longer than we do the season of penance. The Paschal Mystery, Christ’s Passion, death, and resurrection, is central to our faith. Jesus conquered sin and death and re-opened the gates of heaven, which were closed due to the original sin of Adam and Eve.  Through His victory over death and our rebirth in baptism, we share in everlasting life. 

Culturally we tend to replace more emphasis on the season of Lent than we do on Easter season. We choose acts of penance, fast, tithe, and stay focused on Lent for the whole forty days. The  fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated in joyful exultation as one feast day, or  better as one “great Sunday” 

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By designating a longer Easter season, the Church’s telling us that we should focus even more on celebrating the resurrection. Just as you ask Jesus what He wants you to do for Lent, ask Him what He wants you to do for the Easter season. 

While 50 days of unmitigated Joy seems hard for us to sustain today, the season still has meaning. It’s time when we are meant to experience what it means when we say Christ is risen. It’s the season when we hear and ponder the beginnings of our Church, the gifts of the spirit, and the meaning and mission of discipleship, on what joining in the Eucharist commits us to be and do. For no matter how glorious this 50 – day taste of the heavenly banquet is meant to be, God eventually calls us out of the celebration and reminds us to move on and live what we have celebrated in all the moments of our lives. 

The great fifty days of Pentecost are not an unwelcome, unrealistic obligation to party on, even if we don’t feel like it, but an invitation to explore more deeply “the weather of the heart” to awaken our memory of God’s presence and power in our lives, to look more closely at all the rich and varied textures of creation. 

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One way the Church pursues this goal of seeing God present in the world is through the reading of the Acts of the Apostles. At Masses all through the Easter season, our usual practice of 

reading from the Old Testament is replaced by reading from the Acts of the Apostles. These readings tell the story of the Church’s earliest days and the beginning of our faith is spreading throughout the ancient world, these stories of heroism, controversies, persecutions, and miracles in the world, through the lives of his disciples, and the actions of the Holy Spirit. 

All of this should be an encouragement and sign of hope for us today. Despite war, violence, personal struggles, and an under-performing economy, God has not abandoned us, nor left us to our own devices. The risen savior is still with us. These 50 days of Easter ask us to reflect on his presence, and even in the face of danger or fear to live with Joy.

The writer is a catholic church leader at Katigondo National Major Seminary.
Email: [email protected]

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