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The Easter Vigil Mass

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THE EASTER VIGIL MASS

The Easter Vigil is celebrated on the eve of the resurrection of our savior, Jesus

Christ. Easter is the holiest and most important event in the Christian religion. The Easter

Vigil Mass is celebrated in a deep, spiritual, solemn way. Although different Churches

and Christian orders may have minute differences in some of the rituals during the mass,

but the over all feeling in the Easter Vigil liturgy is of solemnity and holiness. The

ceremony begins in almost complete darkness and is slowly lighted by the flames of the

congregation's candles paralleling Jesus symbolically lighting the world we live in. Also

all Easter Vigil liturgies include four parts, the Service of Lights, the Liturgy of the

Word, Celebration of the Rites of Initiation, and Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The Service of Light is composed of three parts. The Service of Light opens the

Mass. The first part of this ceremony is the lighting of the Paschal Candle. The minister

sprinkles the candle with holy water and blesses the fire. The minister carves the letter for

the Greek word "Alpha" on the top of the cross, and the Greek letter for the word

"Omega" below the cross. These letters symbolize the beginning and the end of the life of

Christ. The Paschal Candle is then lit and brought to the front of the Church as the

Catholics cry out in harmony, "The Light of Christ!" The harmony of the Christian

community's hymns and songs illustrate the events we are celebrating. For example the

"Exultet," proclaims the salvation that Christ rising from the dead brought about. From

the lit Paschal Candle all the members of the congregation light smaller, individual candles.

The lighting of the candles symbolizes Christians led by Jesus, the light,

overcoming evil, which is represented by darkness. The Trinity overcoming darkness is

represented by the Christian community overcoming the darkness that filled the Church.

In this ritual of the Easter Vigil we celebrate the triumph Jesus Christ had over sin, evil,

and death.

The next part of the mass is the Liturgy of the Word. The readings are read by the

lector and each is followed by a Responsorial Psalm. There are seven readings in the

missal but only three of them were used at the mass: Genesis 1:1-2:2 ("the story of

creation"), Exodus 14:15-15:1("through the Red Sea") and Romans 6:3-11("dying and

rising with Christ"). The readings seemed very appropriate to me relating back to that

theme of coming out of the darkness into the light. The story of creation, I believe, has the

most significant example of this theme. The idea of God bringing everything in the world

out of total darkness relates especially to the new members of the Church about to be

baptized, confirmed, and receive the Eucharist. God can bring something out of nothing

and soon he will make these people of whom some have not received a single sacrament

into fully confirmed Catholics. It is truly an amazing thing to think about and allows you

to think deeply about the mystery and power of God.

At the next part of the Vigil, the Rite of Christian Initiation, the priest called the

catechumens to the back of the church where the Baptism would take place. Once they

were back there, and separated from the congregation, the priest asked each person the

questions of the creed individually. Then, after each one had answered them, he

immediately baptized each one. I

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