As a child and young adult, the lengthy Easter Vigil brought awe, wonder and hope to my heart–and as I have grown into a middle aged woman, that awe and wonder has only increased. Thanks be to God!
My prayers and welcoming accompany all those who are preparing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church this night, especially my good friend “K,” congratulations!
The Easter Vigil
The Easter Vigil is the high point of the Easter triduum celebrating the passion and resurrection of Jesus. With a rich display of symbols, rites and readings, the church in worship expresses her faith in the mystery that brings her into being.
Light conquers darkness
The vigil opens with a service of light. Like the Jewish Passover, our Easter celebration coincides with the beginning of spring, when the sun offers new warmth and earth is ready to flower again. Our words “lent” (from the Middle-English word for spring, “lengthening days”) and “Easter” (possibly Germanic or Anglo-Saxon in origin, signifying “the east”, “the rising sun”) point to the long tradition of seeing this holy mystery through signs of the natural world.
The lighting of the fire and the Easter candle go back to rites that long preceded Christianity. The candle, carried with loving reverence and lyrically praised in word and song, is a sign of Christ, “the light of the world,” and celebrates the victory of light over darkness that humanity has ever longed for.
God’s love endures forever
A series of readings recalls the great interventions of God in history, from creation to the the redemption of Israel from Egypt, and ends with the story of Jesus’ resurrection. The great “alleluia” proclaims with quiet joy the triumph of God’s Son. Those preparing for Batpism then receive the sacraments of initiation. The blessed water sprinkled over others signifies the blessing of new life.
Rejoice! This night says as it brings before us the deepest symbols of our hopes and fears. The darkness, sign of evil and death, has been overcome by light. A lamp, a candle has been lit; a fire is enkindled in our hearts; a nourishing water flows through our lives; a baptism destroys what is unclean and brings to life again.
Rejoice! this night says to all creation. The Word who made all things, as a new Adam, freshly proclaims God’s promise of life. All creation celebrates God’s love.