An Easter for all seasons?

Catholics Take Part In Way Of The Cross Procession In Washington

A reader sent in the headline and caption that is running on the CNN.com home page right now:

Easter celebrations around the world: Christians around the world are celebrating Easter this weekend, including re-enactments of Jesus' walk to his crucifixion on Good Friday. On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI will preside over the Easter Vigil at the Vatican. GALLERY

I certainly understand the difficult that the press has in understanding this, but there's a bit of a problem with this headline and caption.

Clicking through the gallery photos reveals that, at this point, almost every photo deals not with Easter -- the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus -- but, rather, with Good Friday or the events preceding Good Friday -- the day on which Christians remember Jesus Christ's crucifixion and death.

It might all seem like the same season to the outside observer but there is a huge, bright line dividing the events preceding the resurrection and the celebration of the resurrection. It's two different seasons.

Lent, for Western Christians at least, is a 40-day penitential season that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with the Great Vigil of Easter. Holy Week ends with what many Christians call the Triduum (aka "the three days" in Latin) -- Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. My congregation's Easter Vigil tonight is our longest and most beautiful service of the year.

The vigil marks the transition from Lent to the Easter season. Easter is the celebration of Christ's resurrection from the dead. "It is the oldest and holiest Christian festival, the climax and center of the liturgical year, and the holy day to which all other holy days point." The season that begins on Easter is the most joyful and festive of the year.

There is no greater contrast in the church year than the seasons of Lent and Easter.

The point is that re-enactments of Jesus' walk to his crucifixion are not things one does during Easter, as the CNN caption indicates, but during Lent.

Perhaps the use of the term "Holy Week" would have been better in this case.

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