Easter Vigil

Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. (Isaiah 55:2)

There are so many powerful symbols during the Easter Vigil! We gather in darkness as a brand-new fire is ignited. That light spreads from the Paschal candle to our own tapers, swallowing up darkness and isolation in its radiant glow.

We hear how our father Abraham sacrificed a lamb caught in a thorn-bush in place of his only son, and we stand in awe before the Father who offers up his thorn-crowned Son as a sacrifice for our sins.

We hear God declare his unconditional faithfulness to the covenant he made with his people, and we join the elect as they pro­fess their faith and love and enter into this covenant themselves. We exult as the Lord of Hosts opens a path for his people through the sea of destruction, and we see the Paschal candle plunged into the font, making its waters the place where the old life of sin and death will be destroyed.

We marvel as the power of God’s voice brings forth creation, and we bow before the humility of the Incarnate Word as he bursts from the silent grave. We hear God promise to place his Spirit within his people, and we witness the anointing with oil that conveys the fullness of that Spirit to brand-new Catholics.

Fire and light, sacrificial Lamb, words of faith, holy water, life-giving Word, fragrant oil— all of our senses are filled with the life of God at the Vigil! But none of these is the central sym­bol of this great celebration. It is the eucharistic banquet of life. It’s the glorious celebration of Jesus’ decisive victory over sin and death, the commemoration of the way Jesus’ resurrection has brought fulfillment to each and every other symbol of our faith. This, and not just Baptism and Confirmation, is the most impor­tant thing that the newly baptized will experience tonight.

And even better, it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s a reality we can all share at every Mass!

“Christ is risen indeed!”

romans 6:3-11; Matthew 28:1-10