In the Archdiocese of Toronto this year the Third Sunday of Easter is also the archdiocesan Neophyte Mass. The final period of the Christian Initiation of Adults is known as the Period of Postbaptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy. It is the time where the neophytes, the newly initiated, with the community, "grow in deepening their grasp of the paschal mystery and in making it part of their lives through meditation on the Gospel, sharing in the eucharist, and doing works of charity" (RCIA, 234). The Neophyte Mass itself is a time celebrate those who have been brought into the Church. However, it is also a time of renewal for the whole Church and people of God.
By the time the Third Sunday of Easter comes I feel a bit like a balloon that has had the air let out of it. We have celebrated the great Vigil of Easter and the entrance into the Church of many new members. We have celebrated the great eight days of Easter. We have, it seems, done all the celebrating we can do. And yet, the Church has given us 50 days to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord, even if we aren't quite as excited as we were two weeks ago.
However, we in the Archdiocese are given a wonderful chance to be renewed in our Easter joy. Even if we are not attending the Neophyte Mass, it is a wonderful reminder to all of us of the opportunity we have to grow more deeply in our understanding of paschal mystery, to grow more deeply in our Easter joy.
The Collect for the Third Sunday of Easter asks that we remember that joy: "May your people exult for ever, O God, in renewed youthfulness of spirit, so that, rejoicing now in the restored glory of our adoption, we may look forward in confident hope to the rejoicing of the day of resurrection". As the excitement of Easter starts to wane, the Church calls us to rejoice, to remember what it is that we celebrate at Easter and to continue the celebration.
The Entrance Antiphon reminds us to "Cry out with joy to God, all the earth; O sing to the glory of his name. O render him glorious praise, alleluia". The Neophytes are a very real and present reminder of all the good that God has done and is doing in His Church. They embody the joy that comes with being baptized and they lead our shouts of joy.
The season of Easter isn't over, it is just getting started. Today we are shown in a special way in the Archdiocese the example of our Neophytes and we are called with them to rejoice in the resurrected Lord.
He is Risen! He is truly Risen!
Rebecca Spellacy is the Associate Director of Liturgy for the Office of Formation for Discipleship in the Archdiocese of Toronto.