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The great Vigil of Easter
The entire celebration of the Easter Vigil begins on Saturday at night (or at least after nightfall) and ends before the dawn of Sunday. (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Roman Calendar, no. 21). This is a solemn celebration of the central mystery of our faith. This rite of celebration puts everything of who we are destined to be, and what we are called to do in its proper context: 1Peter 2:9
Out of darkness God has called us, claimed by Christ as God’s own people
Holy nation, Royal Priesthood, walking in God’s marvelous light.
The Easter vigil is arranged in four parts:
The service of the Light
Blessing of the fire: A large fire is prepared in a suitable place. The priest and the people assemble there with the other ministers, carrying the Easter Candle. The priest then greets the assembly in the usual manner and briefly instructs them about the vigil and blesses the fire.
Lighting of the Easter Candle: After blessing of the new fire, the priest cuts a Cross in the wax (of the Baptismal Candle) with a stylus. Then he traces the Greek letter Alpha above the cross, the letter Omega below, and the numerals of the current year between the arms of the cross. The priest then sticks five grains of incense in the candle in the form of a cross. Then the priest lights the candle from the new fire, saying:
“may the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds”.
The Solemn Procession: An appropriate minister accepts the newly blessed Easter candle from the Presider and a procession if formed. The presider uses a smoking thurible and follows the Easter Candle leading the people to the Altar. People gather at the door of the Church holding unlit candles. The three-fold proclamation of “Christ our Light” is met with a response, ‘Thanks be to God’
The Easter Proclamation: Exultet is sung while the God’s people listen to the wonderful poem committed to beautiful music, rhythm, sound, light, incense rising to the heavens, praising and glorifying God, our Father for having given us His only Son, who died for us, on our behalf and rose to life again, to give us an inheritance of eternal life. Imagine celebrating this Solemn Mass at the Empty Tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in Jerusalem.
The Liturgy of the Word
The Church meditates on all the wonderful things God has done for his people from the beginning of time.
There are seven readings from the Old testament. After each reading, a response is sung or said. This is followed by a prayer. The number of readings from the Old Testament may be reduced for pastoral reasons, but it must always be borne in mind that the reading of the word of God, and recounting His Salvation is the fundamental element of the Easter Vigil.
The Easter Vigil Mass
Opens with the Gloria and the ringing of the bells, which remained silent at the conclusion of the celebration of Holy Thursday. The opening prayer sets the tone for the ending of the proclamation of the history of God's people and the beginning of the new rite of salvation brought about through the new and everlasting covenant of Jesus Christ.
Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation
Celebration of Baptism: The candidates for the reception of the sacrament of Baptism and their sponsors are called to come forward and are presented to the Community. The Congregation kneels to pray the ‘Litany of the Saints’ interceding on behalf of those about to be baptized.
Then the new water is blessed which will be used for Baptism as well as for the sprinkling over the community of faith.
Then the profession of Faith takes place, following which the each candidate is baptized. Then the Baptized person is anointed with the oil of Chrism and vested with a baptismal garment.
The newly baptized receives a lighted candle. Take a look at the Sanctuary of All Souls Church on the Night of the Vigil of Easter.
The Congregation renews the Baptismal vows and then the newly blessed Holy water is sprinkled over them in a solemn affirmation of Faith.
Celebration of Reception: The celebrant invites the candidates if any for Reception into the Catholic Church, along with their sponsors to come into the sanctuary and before the community to make the profession of faith.
Celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation: The newly baptized with their Sponsors are presented. The sacrament of Confirmation is administered on the Candidates.
The Mass of the Easter Vigil continues with General Intercessions, followed by the Liturgy of Eucharist.
Reflections for Easter Sunday
The Beauty of the Resurrection: www.saltandlighttv.org/prog_slprog_snl_presents_easter_video0.html
How shall we find words for the Resurrection: www.youtube.com/watch?v=byx_YBLck0k
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