Following the great solemnity of Easter there is in the Church calendar a period of time when the celebration of the Eucharist and the cycle of readings recall the event of Christ’s Resurrection.
The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated as one feast day, sometimes called “the great Sunday.” The first eight days of the Easter season form the octave of Easter and are celebrated as solemnities of the Lord, and in a way, make for the “early hours” of this “great Sunday,” with accounts of the Lord who rose early in the morning, and the early preaching of the disciples who were witnesses to his resurrection. The singing of the alleluia is characteristic of these days.
The Sundays of this season are counted as the Sundays of Easter. Following the Sunday of the Resurrection, they are called the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Sundays of Easter or the Easter Season. The period of fifty days ends on Pentecost Sunday.
The Ascension is celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter. In places, such as the Des Moines Diocese, where it is not a holy day of obligation, it is assigned to the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
The weekdays after the Ascension to Saturday before Pentecost inclusive are a preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Easter Season is a significant time in the Church calendar.
The faithful spend the forty days of lent in prayer, fasting and charity preparing for the great three-day event called the Triduum, and then spends the fifty days of the Easter Season unpacking the Paschal Mystery. (8:21)