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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Each year, the Church renews in its liturgy the remembrance of the events of the Saviour’s life, in which we are invited to take part. On the feast of Easter, it celebrates the anniversary of the triumph of Jesus overcoming death. This is the central event of history, and everything in the life of Christ converges towards it; it is also the culminating point of the life of the Church in its Liturgical Cycle. 1
The Resurrection of the Saviour is the preeminent proof of His divinity, for He must be God in order to be able, as Jesus said, tolay down His life and take it up again. 2 Belief in the Resurrection of Jesus is therefore the very basis of the Christian Faith.3 It is also its definitive consecration, for the Pasch of Christ, His passage from death to life, marks the victory that all of humanity won in Jesus
over the world, the flesh and the devil. 4
The Easter Vigil is the loftiest summit of the entire Christian liturgy. Followed with attention and piety, it lays up great spiritual riches in our hearts, with which our soul may be nourished throughout the liturgical year.
This holy Vigil is the vigil of remembrance. It calls to mind the exodus from Egypt, when the Hebrews were delivered by the passage of the exterminating Angel after they had marked the doors of their houses with the blood of a lamb. They were then able to leave for the Promised Land, crossing dryshod through the Red Sea, while the Egyptians who pursued them were swallowed up in the waters.
But above all, the Easter Vigil reminds us of the passage of Our Lord Jesus Christ in this world, from His earthly life to His glorious life, which is the true Pasch. Consequently, it calls to mind our own deliverance, included in principle in the deliverance of Jesus, because He is our Head and we are the members of His Body.
Everything is symbolic in this Vigil. The Church, which blesses all the objects it employs for divine worship, implores the blessing of God upon the new fire which it will draw from a stone, and which it will use to light the Paschal Candle, to recall that Jesus Christ, Light of the world, overcame death and the stone of the tomb.
— The words of the blessing, spoken over the Paschal Candle, clearly show that this Candle is the figure of the risen Saviour. “Christ, yesterday and today, beginning and end, to whom belong time and eternity; to Him be glory and honor for ever and ever.”
— The five grains of incense set into the wax symbolize the glorious wounds which remained visible on the hands, feet and side of the Risen Christ.
— The lighted Paschal Candle represents the Saviourenlightening every man who comes into the world, 5 and the darkness that surrounds us is the image of the darkness of sin with which the world was covered before the coming of the Redeemer. The celebrant says, “May the light of Christ, rising glorious, dispel the darkness of heart and mind.”
— The procession of the Light recalls the Hebrews’ walk towards the Promised Land, and above all the Christian people’s walk towards Heaven behind Jesus our Head.
— The celebrants and the children light their candles from the flame of the Paschal Candle, to symbolize the light of Christ which is shared, and which comes to us by means of the Hierarchy of the Holy Church.
— The lighted candles of the faithful and the light that streams throughout the church remind us of our own spiritual resurrection and inform us that we are light in the Lord. 6
Finally, at the conclusion of the procession, the deacon invites us to praise the Lord and rejoice in our salvation, symbolized by the passage of the Hebrews through the Red Sea and fulfilled by Christ, who passes from the tomb where He reposed to the glory of the Resurrection.
The readings, related to baptism which releases us from sin, recall to us the greatness of our dignity as children of God, the confidence we ought to have in His Word, the rewards of Christians faithful to their sacred promises, and the chastisements reserved for unfaithful Christians.
The invocation of the Saints disposes us to renew with fervor the holy vows of our baptism, and the Church concludes by imploring God to bestow His universal blessing upon all of His Creation, upon the Christian people and all of humanity.
For us, therefore, the Easter Vigil and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is more than a remembrance. It is precisely the pledge of Jesus’ glorious return, just as He Himself solemnly announced to His enemies during His Holy Passion, saying,
One day you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power of God and coming upon the clouds of Heaven,7 and as the Angels prophesied on the day of His Ascension. 8
Following our Saviour’s example, may our moral resurrection be definitive. May the communion of the Body and Blood of the true Paschal Lamb, immolated for our salvation, sustain us in our determination to fully live the teachings of the Holy Church, in such a way as to win the eternal reward of Heaven where, according to the holy Apostle,we shall ever be with the Lord. 9
. “As the memorial of the Passion and the Resurrection of Jesus, the Mass is like the mustard seed from which the entire Catholic liturgy arises.” Dom Cabrol
. Cf. St. John 10:18.
. St. Paul, I Corinthians 15:14 – If Christ has not risen, vain is your faith.
. Dom Gaspar Lefebvre.
. Cf. St. John 1:9.
. St. Paul, Ephesians 5:8.
. St. Mark 14:62.
. Cf. Acts of the Apostles 1:11.
. St. Paul, I Thessalonians 4:17.