A Time for Joy in the Church
The 8 day period from Easter Sunday through to the Second Sunday of Easter (often known as Whitsunday, Low Sunday or in more recent times Divine Mercy Sunday) is a time of particular joy in the Church. Known as the Octave Week of Easter, it is so important that it is treated as a continuation of Easter Sunday itself. For example, the Church’s liturgical texts continue to refer to “this Easter Day,” repeating the Easter psalms and prayers; weddings and funerals which occur during this time use the Easter texts as well; fasting and abstinence from meat is not allowed; and other feasts and memorials which might fall during this time are postponed until after the Octave Week.
But the Easter Season doesn’t end after its Octave. Due to its spiritual importance – Easter is after all the most important feast in the Christian calendar, far more important than the celebrations of the Incarnation at Annunciation and Christmas – the Easter season continues on for 50 days! Sometimes called Paschaltide, it extends all the way until the Solemnity of Pentecost, seven full weeks after Easter Sunday!
The Easter Season is such a happy time in the Church that the only “special” obligation particular to it is a joyful one: to commune with Christ Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist! Church law requires reception of Holy Communion at least once a year, and specially recommends that this take place during the Easter Season. It’s sometimes referred-to as one’s “Easter Duty” for this reason. "Of course, communion must always be preceded by sacramental confession if one is aware of having committed a serious (that is, mortal) sin since one’s last good confession.
So even after Easter Sunday, and even after the Octave of Easter, continue to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection from the dead. As Pope St. John Paul II famously said, “We are an Easter People, and Alleluia is Our Song!” Keep the joy of the Risen Lord in your heart! It’s even okay to keep on wishing your friends a Happy Easter!