|Pope Benedict XVI holds a candle during the Easter Vigil Papal mass on Holy Saturday on April 23, 2011 at St Peter's basilica at The Vatican. Source: Getty Images|
With Easter now fast upon us, I would like to take this opportunity to explain just very briefly why I think you should attend the Easter Vigil.
Reason #1: You’ve never seen anything like it
The Mass for the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night is the liturgy of all liturgies. All of the symbolism that makes the typical liturgy so rich and meaningful is multiplied by 100 for the Easter Vigil. What this means is that you’re going to see and experience something truly unique.
For one, the Mass begins with the lights out. The only illumination comes from a massive bonfire burning outside. Once the Paschal candle is lit by the fire, its flame is used to light small candles held by those in the congregation. To see the church ultimately alive not by the force of electricity but by a holy fire is truly a sight to behold.
The Liturgy of the Word during the Vigil Mass is also much more substantial. It is essentially a grand tour through salvation history, as reader after reader tells the story of God’s interventions into human history. It is awe-inspiring to see the plan of God unfolding and to reconsider the hard work that God put in to bringing us His Son and raising Him from the dead for our salvation.
There are many more extraordinary things about the Vigil liturgy, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise! If you want to know what those are, you’ll have to see them for yourself!
Reason #2: Welcome to the party!
Since the revival of the RCIA process after the Second Vatican Council, the Easter Vigil has taken on new significance as the liturgy that welcomes new members into the Church. At my parish, we don’t have any catechumens this year so there won’t be any baptisms, but we do have candidates who will be fully initiated into the Church by receiving the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion.
This is a cause for great celebration! Each candidate brings his own gifts, and talents, and aspirations to the Church. This can only work to build up and renew us as a mystical Body. But, beyond the benefit for us, we should also celebrate this occasion for the simple fact that more souls are entering into the fullness of grace and truth that we possess. Praise God!
Considering all this, what message would it send if the church was only half full, or if no one attended the reception afterwards? We should show these candidates that we are thankful for their presence and for the hard work that brought them here. I hope that you will come to welcome them and to experience the awesome beauty that only the Easter Vigil can bring. Christ is coming soon. Are you ready?