On Preparing and Celebrating the Paschal Feasts (1988)



On Preparing and Celebrating the Paschal Feasts
Paschale solemnitatis

VIII. Easter Time

100. The celebration of Easter is prolonged throughout the Easter season. The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated as one feast day, the "great Sunday." [105]

101. The Sundays of this season are regarded as Sundays of Easter and are so termed; they have precedence over all feasts of the Lord and over all solemnities. Solemnities that fall on one of these Sundays are anticipated on the Saturday. [106] Celebrations in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the saints that fall during the week may not be transferred to one of these Sundays. [107]

102. For adults who have received Christian initiation during the Easter Vigil, the whole of this period is given over to mystagogical catechesis. Therefore, wherever there are neophytes, the prescriptions of the Ordo initiationis Christianae adultorum (RCIA), nn. 37-40 and 235-239, should be observed. Intercession should be made in the Eucharistic Prayer for the newly baptized through the Easter octave in all places.

103. Throughout the Easter season, the neophytes should be assigned their own special place among the faithful. All neophytes should endeavor to participate at Mass along with their godparents. In the homily and, according to local circumstances, in the General Intercessions, mention should be made of them. Some celebration should be held to conclude the period of mystagogical catechesis on or about Pentecost Sunday, depending upon local custom. [108] It is also appropriate that children receive their first communion on one or other of the Sundays of Easter.

104. During Easter time, pastors should instruct the faithful who have been already initiated into the Eucharist on the meaning of the Church's precept concerning the reception of Holy Communion during this period. [109] It is highly recommended that communion also be brought to the sick, especially during the Easter octave.

105. Where there is the custom of blessing houses in celebration of the resurrection, this blessing is to be imparted after the Solemnity of Easter and not before, by the parish priest or other priest or deacon delegated by him. This is an opportunity for exercising a pastoral ministry. [110] The parish priest should go to each house for the purpose of undertaking a pastoral visitation of each family. There, he will speak with the residents and spend a few moments with them in prayer, using texts to be found in the book De Benedictionibus (Book of Blessing). [111] In larger cities, consideration should be given to the gathering of several families for a common celebration of the blessing for all.

106. According to the differing circumstances of places and peoples, there are found a number of popular practices linked to celebrations of the Easter season, which in some instances attract greater numbers of the people than the sacred liturgy itself. These practices are not in any way to be undervalued, for they are often well adapted to the religious mentality of the faithful. Let episcopal conferences and local ordinaries, therefore, see to it that practices of this kind, which seem to nourish popular piety, be harmonized in the best way possible with the sacred liturgy, be imbued more distinctly with the spirit of the liturgy, be in some way derived from it, and lead the people to it. [112]

107. This sacred period of fifty days concludes with Pentecost Sunday, when the gift of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, the beginnings of the Church, and the start of its mission to all tongues and peoples and nations are commemorated. [113]

Encouragement should be given to the prolonged celebration of Mass in the form of a Vigil, whose character is not baptismal as in the Easter Vigil, but is one of urgent prayer, after the example of the apostles and disciples, who persevered together in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as they awaited the Holy Spirit. [114]

108. "It is proper to the paschal festivity that the whole Church rejoices at the forgiveness of sins, which is not only for those who are reborn in Holy Baptism, but also for those who have long been numbered among the adopted children." [115] By means of a more intensive pastoral care and a deeper spiritual effort, all who celebrate the Easter feasts will, by the Lord's grace, experience their effect in their daily lives. [116]

Given at Rome, January 16, 1988.
Paul Augustin Cardinal Mayer Prefect
Virgilio Noè Titular Archbishop of Voncaria, Secretary


105. Cf. GNLYC, n. 22.

106. Cf. ibid., nn. 5, 23.

107. Cf. ibid., n. 58.

108. RCIA, nn. 235-239.

109. CIC, c. 920.

110. Cf. Maxima redemtionis nostrae mysteria, n. 24, AAS (1955): 847.

111. De Benedictionibus, caput I, II, Ordo benedictionis annuae familiarium in propriis domibus.

112. SC, n. 13; Cf. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Orientamentie proposte per la celebrazione dell'anno mariano (April 3, 1987), nn. 3, 51-56.

113. Cf. GNLYC, n. 23.

114. It is possible to combine the celebration of first Vespers with the celebration of Mass as provided in the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours, n. 96. In order to throw into greater relief the mystery of this day, it is possible to have several readings from Holy Scripture, as proposed in the Lectionary. In this case, after the collect, the reader goes to the ambo to proclaim the reading. The psalmist or cantor sings the psalm, to which the people respond with the refrain. Then, all stand and the priest says, "Let us pray"; after a short pause, he says the prayer corresponding to the reading (e.g., one of the collects for the ferial days of the Seventh Week of Easter).

115. St. Leo the Great, Sermo 6 de Quadragesima, 1-2, PL 54: 285.

116. Cf. Roman Missal, "Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter," Opening Prayer.