Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Vigil Part 1

Lastnight, shortly before midnight, I received my first communion in the Catholic Church. Four hours is fairly long for an evening service, but time seemed to fly by. Once everyone had crowded into the fellowship hall, we were called out to the courtyard to witness the Easter Fire. The fire is a symbol of Christ's resurrection, & even now reminds me of a "phoenix rising from the flames". The fire was blessed & the Easter Candle was brought out. This thing is huge. The priest started carving a cross into the wax- the Greek letters Alpha & Omega were fixed at top & bottom and the numbers of the year went in each tiny pseudo square created by the arms of the cross. He said:" Christ yesterday & today, the beginning & the end, Alpha & Omega; all time belongs to Him & all the ages; To Him be glory and power, through every age forever." And we all said "Amen." The candle was then lit from the fire & brought back to the fellowship hall by the deacon. We followed & lit our candles from its flame as we went back to our seats.

We sat in darkness, in the candlelight... waiting. I looked up at the large domed lights which hung from the ceiling. The reflection of so many candles burning seemed like starlight. The deacon approached the altar shouting "Christ our Light!" & the candle was eventually placed in a stand at the altar & incensed. Something called the "Exsultet" (or Easter Proclamation) came next. It was long & it was sung, but it was fascinating to listen to. It's like a hymn of praise that summarizes the story of our faith.

Next came the readings. There were 7 of them- a couple from Genesis, one from Exodus, two from Isaiah, one from Baruch and one from Ezekiel. Between each, a responsorial psalm was sung & the priest led us in prayer. He later explained that we have these readings to remind us of our history because this is all the Jews had in their day- they had no New Testament, just the stories of old- we are the continuation of those stories...

After a final song, we were dismissed to the sanctuary of the church. We entered into warm light. The joyful "Gloria" was sung while the consecration bells sounded & I noticed the solemn purple banners of Lent had been replaced by gold, signifying the celebration of Easter. We filed into our pews & picked up the last few verses while everyone was getting settled. I remember thinking "Here we go!"...

Easter Vigil Part 2

No comments:

Post a Comment