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Saturday 25 September |
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The Octave of Easter ~ Divine Mercy Sunday

"Thomas Sunday" in Eastern Churches


Lawrence OP CC

The meaning of the celebration

+ Since the Middle Ages, the week following Easter Sunday has been celebrated as an “octave.” In the liturgy, an “octave” is an eight-day celebration that is regarded as a continuation of the original feast. This means that each day of the Octave of Easter is celebrated with the same solemnity as Easter Sunday.

+ The Octave Day of Easter (the Second Sunday of Easter) recalls the eighth day after the Resurrection when Saint Thomas the Apostle encountered the Risen Christ. In this Eastern Churches, this day is often called “Thomas Sunday.”

+ In the Western Church, this day was often called “Low Sunday’ or Dominica in albis (“White Sunday”), recalling the baptismal garments worn by the newly baptized.

+ The liturgies for each day of the Octave gradually unfold the Easter Story, drawing on each of the four Gospels.

+ In the year 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II designated the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.

+ The Octave of Easter does not mark the end of the Church’s celebration of Easter. The Season of Easter extends until evening prayer of Pentecost Sunday.

Worth knowing

The main character of the novel Notre Dame de Paris (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame) is the deaf, hunchbacked bell-ringer named Quasimodo. His name comes from the words of the entrance antiphon (the Introit) for the Mass of the Sunday after Easter, the day on which he was found on the steps of Notre Dame Cathedral: Quasi modo geniti infantes, alleluia… (“As newborn infants, alleluia…).


Bring your hand and feel the place of the nails, / and do not be unbelieving but believing, alleluia.”—Communion Antiphon for the Second Sunday of Easter


God of everlasting mercy,
who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast
kindle the faith of the people you have made your own,
increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed,
that all may grasp and rightly understand
in what font they have been washed,
by whose Spirit they have been reborn,
by whose Blood they have been redeemed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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