Dear friends, today (2nd Sunday of Easter) marks the end of the Octave of Easter. To begin with, why is it called an Octave? The celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection continues in the Church for eight (8) days (counting from Easter Sunday to the next Sunday), this is called the Octave (Latin: octavus: eighth) of Easter. Those of us who are musically inclined would understand an octave or the perfect octave (sometimes called the diapason) is the interval between one musical pitch and another (remember the do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, & do scale); giving us an impression of the number 8.
As a follow-up, each day of the Octave is ranked as a Solemnity in the Church’s liturgical calendar, the highest ranking of liturgical feasts. At Masses during the Octave of Easter, as on Sundays, the Gloria, is recited or sung. And at the end of each Mass of the Octave, the double Alleluia is sung/said at the dismissal.
It is pertinent to note that the idea of an Octave of a great feast has its roots in the Old Testament. There are many Jewish feasts that lasted for eight days, for example, the feast of Passover and the feast of Tabernacles.
In the Catholic Church, we celebrate eight days of Christmas as well as eight days of Easter. The Gospel readings at Masses during the Octave of Easter include passages from the Gospels that relate various appearances of the Risen Jesus. Reflecting on these Gospel texts is a wonderful way to prolong the celebration of Easter. Each day during the Octave, we proclaim in the Gospel Acclamation: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.”
Hence, with the celebration of the 2nd Sunday of Easter today, we have come to the end of the 8days of Easter (Octave). However, we’re still in the pool of Eastertide (that is, Sundays and weekdays of Easter) until Pentecost (50 days after Easter), after which we shall return to the ordinary time of the year in the church’s liturgical calendar.
I wish you all God’s grace and perseverance in the faith as we journey through the Church’s liturgical year.
~Fr. Chinaka, OSJ