Study: How did you learn your Christian faith? When did it become something you claimed for your own?
Pray: This is a good time to count our blessings and draw near to the Lord in gratitude for the gift of life.
Serve: Perhaps there is someone to whom you might want to say, “I love you.” Perhaps this is a good time right now…
Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast (7 minutes, given at Cathedral on April 4, 2015)
This holy night finds the Church celebrating the profound mystery of Christ’s saving work. The Easter Vigil recalls the great moments of salvation history, rejoices with those who enter into full communion with the sacramental life of the Church, and is nourished by Eucharist. Here are the four key components:
- The Liturgy of Light
- The Liturgy of the Word
- The Liturgy of Initiation
- The Liturgy of the Eucharist
The Liturgy of Light (or Lucernarium) begins the Easter Vigil. In the darkness the image of light is used to proclaim our hope in Christ. Several things happen:
- A new fire is blessed and from its flames the light of the paschal (Easter) candle is lit
- This candle is processed into church where the faithful light their own candles from it.
- By this sea of candlelight the great Easter proclamation of Christ our Light – the Exsultet – is offered.
The Liturgy of the Word recounts the epic story of salvation history through several Old Testament Scriptures:
- Creation – Genesis 1:1-2.2 and Psalm 104 or 33
- Abraham’s Sacrifice – Genesis 22:1-18 and Psalm 16
- Passage through the Red Sea – Exodus 14: 15-15:1 and its Canticle (Exodus 15)
- The New Jerusalem – Isaiah 54:5-14 and Psalm 30
- Salvation Offered Freely to All – Isaiah 55:1-11 its Canticle (Isaiah 12)
- The Fountain of Wisdom – Baruch 3:9-15 and Psalm 19
- A New Heart and a New Spirit – Ezechiel 36:16-28 and Psalm 42-43
We then move from the Old t0 the New Testament:
- The Gloria is sung
- A reading from Romans 6:3-11 – Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more!
- The Alleluia is sung
- The Gospel is read – Mt 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-7, Lk 24:1-12 (depending on the year)
The Liturgy of Initiation then follows where those who have been preparing to enter the Church now receive their sacraments.
- The Litany of the Saints is sung
- The Baptismal Font is blessed
- The Sacrament of Baptism is celebrated
- The Assembly renews their Baptismal Promises
- The Sacrament of Confirmation is celebrated
Finally, the Liturgy of the Eucharist allows the entire community to draw near to the altar to receive Jesus Christ in the sacrament of his Body and Blood. The newly baptized receive Holy Communion for the first time in the company of their fellow Catholics. Like every Mass:
- Bread and Wine are brought to the altar
- The Priest prays the Eucharistic Prayer
- The Lord’s Prayer is said, followed by the Sign of Peace
- We receive the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion
The great promise of faith, founded upon God’s saving work through time in the history of salvation, is proclaimed on this holy night. May Christians around the world renew their faith in Jesus Christ – sharing his love and light with one another.
Christ our Light!
April 15th, 2017 at 8:36 am
Thank you, Fr. Andrew! Your summary is a known but little understood explanation of the Easter Vigil. Please forward this explanation to other pastors in the Diocese for publication in their bulletins as part of the bulletin or an insert. Unfortunately, most Catholics or many anyway are totally unfamiliar with the Easter Vigil and its importance. We are so focused on Easter Sunday, we miss the importance of Christ’s death and resurrection and OUR participation every year in this extraordinary spiritual event. Without Christ’s death and resurrection, we wouldn’t have the gift of salvation. A truly amazing gift! Thank you for providing an insight so needed in today’s complicated world.