Catholic Easter :- Easter is the greatest feast in the Christian calendar. On this Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For Catholics, Easter Sunday comes at the end of 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving known as Lent. Through spiritual struggle and self-denial, we have prepared ourselves to die spiritually with Christ on Good Friday, the day of His Crucifixion, so that we can rise again with Him in new life on Easter.
A Day of Celebration Catholic Easter
In Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches on Easter, Christians greet each other with cries of “Christ is risen!” and respond “Indeed He is risen!” Over and over, they sing a hymn of celebration:
Christ is risen from the dead
By death He conquered death
And to those in the graves
He granted life!
In Roman Catholic churches, the Alleluia is sung for the first time since the beginning of Lent.
As St. John Chrysostom reminds us in his famous Easter Homily, our fast is over; now is the time for celebration.
The Fulfillment of Our Faith
Easter is a day of celebration because it represents the fulfillment of our faith as Christians. Saint Paul wrote that, unless Christ rose from the dead, our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:17). Through his death, Christ saved mankind from bondage to sin, and He destroyed the hold that death has on all of us; but it is His Resurrection that gives us the promise of new life, both in this world and the next.
The Coming of the Kingdom
That new life began on Easter Sunday. In the Our Father, we pray that “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven.” And Christ told His disciples that some of them would not die until they saw the Kingdom of God “coming in power” (Mark 9:1). The early Christian Fathers saw Easter as the fulfillment of that promise. With the resurrection of Christ, God’s Kingdom is established on earth, in the form of the Church.
New Life in Christ
That is why people who are converting to Catholicism traditionally are baptized at the Easter Vigil service, which takes place on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter), starting sometime after sunset. They have usually undergone a long process of study and preparation known as the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). Their baptism parallels Christ’s own Death and Resurrection, as they die to sin and rise to new life in the Kingdom of God.
Communion: Our Easter Duty
Because of the central importance of Easter to the Christian faith, the Catholic Church requires that all Catholics who have made their First Communion receive the Holy Eucharist sometime during the Easter season, which lasts through Pentecost, 50 days after Easter. (The Church also urges us to take part in the Sacrament of Confession before receiving this Easter communion.) This reception of the Eucharist is a visible sign of our faith and our participation in the Kingdom of God. Of course, we should receive Communion as frequently as possible; this “Easter Duty” is simply the minimum requirement set by the Church.
Christ Is Risen!
Easter isn’t a spiritual event that happened just once, long ago; we don’t say “Christ has risen” but “Christ is risen,” because He rose, body and soul, and is still alive and with us today. That is the true meaning of Easter.
Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
What Is the Easter Duty?
Because of the central importance of Easter to the Christian faith, the Catholic Church requires that all Catholics who have made their First Communion receive the Holy Eucharist sometime during the Easter season, which lasts through Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after Easter. (They should also take part in the Sacrament of Penance before receiving this Easter communion.) This reception of the Eucharist is a visible sign of our faith and our participation in the Kingdom of God. Of course, we should receive Communion as frequently as possible; this “Easter Duty” is simply the minimum requirement set by the Church.
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Holy Communion: Our Life in Christ
The Sacrament of Holy Communion is the third of the Sacraments of Initiation. Even though we are required to receive Communion at least once per year (our Easter Duty), and the Church urges us to receive Communion frequently (even daily, if possible), it is called a sacrament of initiation because, like Baptism and Confirmation, it brings us into the fullness of our life in Christ.
In Holy Communion, we are eating the True Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, without which “you shall not have life in you” (John 6:53).
Who Can Receive Catholic Communion?
Normally, only Catholics in a state of grace can receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. (See the next section for more details on what it means to be in a state of grace.) Under certain circumstances, however, other Christians whose understanding of the Eucharist (and the Catholic sacraments generally) is the same as that of the Catholic Church can receive Communion, even though they are not in full communion with the Catholic Church.
In their Guidelines for the Reception of Communion, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops notes that “Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law.” In those circumstances,
Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these Churches.
Under no circumstances are non-Christians allowed to receive Communion, but Christians beyond those mentioned above (e.g., Protestants) can, under canon law (Canon 844, Section 4), receive Communion in very rare circumstances:
If the danger of death is present or other grave necessity, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or the conference of bishops, Catholic ministers may licitly administer these sacraments to other Christians who do not have full Communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and on their own ask for it, provided they manifest Catholic faith in these sacraments and are properly disposed.
Preparing for the Sacrament of Holy Communion
Because of the intimate connection of the Sacrament of Holy Communion to our life in Christ, Catholics who wish to receive Communion must be in a state of grace—that is, free of any grave or mortal sin—before receiving it, as St. Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29. Otherwise, as he warns, we receive the sacrament unworthily, and we “eateth and drinketh damnation” to ourselves.
If we are aware of having committed a mortal sin, we must participate in the Sacrament of Confession first. The Church sees the two sacraments as connected, and urges us, when we can, to join frequent Confession with frequent Communion.
Making a Spiritual Communion
If we cannot receive Holy Communion physically, either because we cannot make it to Mass or because we need to go to Confession first, we can pray an Act of Spiritual Communion, in which we express our desire to be united with Christ and ask Him to come into our soul. A spiritual communion is not sacramental, but prayed devoutly, it can be a source of grace that can strengthen us until we can receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion once again.
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