Sounding Off on Easter

While Easter Sunday has already passed, we are well into what we call the Octave of Easter, an eight day period that takes us to the Second Sunday of Easter (which is also dubbed Divine Mercy Sunday). Now, as an avid pianist and music lover, my ears always pipe up if I hear somebody around me using any sort of terminology like “octave” (hey, I’m just interested, okay?), and naturally the first thing that pops into my mind when I hear “Easter Octave” is the musical octave.

The Music Theory 101 definition of an octave is an interval between one pitch and another with half or double its frequency; that means that we essentially hear these two pitches as the “same” note. After pure unison, the octave is the simplest interval in music – though playing composers’ imaginative arrangements of them is not always so simple, and playing octaves well is an important part of a pianist’s technique. Check out this famous passage from Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto:

That entire piano passage is made up of a succession of octaves. In Western music, our scales and the chords built off of them are all singularly defined by specifying intervals within the octave; within this simple interval we derive a plethora of intervallic relationships with which to organize sound into pitch classes and make beautiful music.

In the Church, an Octave is an eight day period of further celebration of a feast. That means that during this week we are called to meditate further on the wonder of Christ’s Resurrection in our lives and manifest the Good News this event signifies in our dealings with the world. The Risen Christ is one with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, and in the resurrection we encounter this awesome unison, this Threeness-in-One, in a fundamentally transforming way. There could be no more fitting name than ‘Octave’ for these days, for, like a cosmic expansion of its musical counterpart, these are days during which the Christian must seek to place his very soul on the same frequency – the same all-encompassing love – that Christ demonstrated in redeeming us. Since Christ is the “Last Adam” (Man made perfect – See 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45), the fullness of our faith will come to bear, just as beautiful music takes its form within the octave, by approaching this kind of attuned harmony in our relationship with Him.

It is my prayer during this Easter Octave that we as a Catholic and Christian people will grow closer to Christ as the Perfect Man and that, like the miraculous light that scared the soldiers from Christ’s tomb, God gives the Church the light of His love to penetrate this oft-dark world and make His glory known to all.

A blessed and joyous Easter to each and every one of you and your loved ones!

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