The Easter Vigil – The Celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection
Followed by Parish Party
The Easter Vigil liturgy has its roots in the Old Testament and relives through the liturgy, the night the Israelites stayed awake waiting for the Lord to deliver them from their slavery in Egypt. Similarly, we wait with the disciples for the good news that Jesus indeed is risen! In its fullest expression this is a true vigil, a night watch. We gather as family to re-tell the wondrous stories of our salvation and draw strength as we remember. We wait together in joyful hope for the good news of Christ’s victory over death. In the process, we discover for ourselves the glory of the Cross
The Easter Vigil has four parts: The Service of Light; the Liturgy of the Word; the Liturgy of Baptism; and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
During the Service of Light, all the lights in the church are turned off and a fire is prepared outside the church. Then the fire is blessed and the Paschal Candle is lighted from the new fire. The candle is carried into the dark church. It is a sign of Christ, the Light of the World, who has overcome the darkness of sin and death. The lighted Paschal Candle provides the only illumination. Then, from the flame of the Paschal Candle, members of the congregation light the small candles that they are holding. The flame is passed from person to person until everyone is holding a lighted candle. The light from the Paschal Candle and all the small candles provides the only illumination in the church during this portion of the liturgy. This section concludes with the singing of the Easter Proclamation, the Exsultet.
During the Liturgy of the Word, the story of God’s great love for us is proclaimed in readings from the Old and New Testaments. The readings recall the great events of salvation, beginning with creation itself and were selected to dispose people to celebrate the sacraments of Christian initiation with great faith.
During the Liturgy of Baptism, those who have been preparing for Baptism and their godparents are called forward. The priest and ministers then go to the baptismal font, if this can be seen by the congregation. Otherwise a vessel of water is placed in the sanctuary. After the candidates are baptized, all present stand with lighted candles and renew their baptismal promises as a sign that they share the new life of Jesus through his resurrection.
The Easter Vigil concludes with the celebration of the Eucharist. This is a joyous sharing in the sacrificial meal of Jesus Christ, Lord and Risen Saviour.