By Jessica Easthope
It’s common knowledge that Easter marks the end of Lent but it also marks a beginning – another part of the Easter season that goes on for almost two months.
“It’s continued for the 50 days until the feast of Pentecost,” said Monsignor David Cassato, the pastor of St. Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. “The coming of the Holy Spirit – it’s a very special time. There’s no greater time than Easter.”
It’s called Eastertide, the time between Easter and Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’ disciples on the seventh Sunday after Easter. Msgr. Cassato says the Polish, Irish, and Italians have their own ways of celebrating Easter Monday and observing this time.
“In the Italian tradition, it’s called ‘Pasquetta,’ after the work of Easter, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday,” he said. “Most people in Italy take the day off and go to the country and celebrate with all the leftover food.”
St. Athanasius parishioners, Nila Ruggieri and Vittoria Spagnolo, came to church to celebrate Easter Monday. They said Eastertide is a time to live the joy of Easter and the hope of the Resurrection.
“This is the biggest celebration,” Nila said. “It lasts a long time. 50 days until the Holy Spirit comes and enables us with his power and strength and joy.”
“That was the way to go,” Vittoria said. “The disciples show that he’s there with us.”
On any given day, you can find Carlo Formisano at St. Athanasius, alone, praying the rosary. For him, Eastertide is a time to give, using the power of the Holy Spirit to help others.
“That’s what I feel these next days,” Carlo said, “Pentecost Sunday coming up where you get that spirit. The Holy Spirit comes into you like he gave it to the disciples. If you can feel that for just one day, one hour, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Msgr. Cassato says it’s also the best time of year for evangelization.
“Why is it the perfect time of the year to bring people into church and back to church?” he asked. “It’s interesting because during this Eastertide, after the pandemic especially, it’s time to come back to the church. It’s time to reach out to people who have fallen away.”
This year, Eastertide is celebrated until May 23 on Pentecost.