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Celebrating the Octave of Easter

Easter Sunday and the following seven days present a special time to bask in the glory of the resurrection.

The Octave of Easter is one of the lesser known liturgical celebrations in the Catholic Church. It includes Easter Sunday and the seven days that follow, culminating in the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday.

Starting from at least the 3rd or 4th century, Christians began to extend certain feasts beyond the initial day. This meant that the joyous celebrations of Easter Sunday were prolonged and lasted a full eight days.

Presently, we treat each day in the octave as if it were Easter Sunday. The liturgical readings and actions of each day mimic what happened on Easter Sunday.

Reflection for Monday in the Octave of Easter

Hear these words! (Acts 2:22)

The Book of Acts—which we will be reading throughout this Easter season—is so much more than a history of the early Church. It’s a book about the power of the Holy Spirit! Throughout its pages, we read how the Spirit worked through regular people to make them into bold apostles and witnesses to Christ.

Because it speaks about so many lives being powerfully transformed, Acts also gives us hope and encouragement for our lives. What happened in the apostles can happen in us as well.

Today’s reading describes the first of many scenes in Acts in which the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to build the Church on earth. This passage also describes the first fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy before he ascended into heaven: “You will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Here, in Jerusalem, Peter preached, and thousands came to believe.

As Acts progresses, we will read how Peter and other disciples, like Stephen, preached the gospel in Jerusalem and the surrounding area of Judea. Then, the focus will shift to Philip, who spread the gospel even farther when he proclaimed Christ in Samaria. Finally, we will witness Paul bringing the message and the power of salvation throughout Asia Minor, then into Greece, and lastly to Rome and “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And in every scene, we can see the Holy Spirit working powerfully through these anointed messengers of God.

Stories like the ones recorded in Acts continue to happen today through the preaching and witness of Jesus’ disciples—and that means you. Like Peter, Philip, Paul, and all the others, you too have received the Holy Spirit. He is with you to help you witness to Jesus and build his kingdom here on earth. So as the Easter season unfolds, ask Jesus to fill you with his Spirit and to make you into his witness. He desires it and will surely help you to fulfill your calling.

“Father, you are looking for people to send out as witnesses to your Son. Here I am, Lord. Send me!”

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