Christ Our Light: A Reflection

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The first major section of the annual Easter Vigil celebration may be the most memorable and engaging to the senses. It certainly includes some vivid symbols and actions which we do not encounter in the liturgy every day. Formerly called simply the “Service of Light”, in the present English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal this introductory sequence of liturgical elements is entitled “The Solemn Beginning of the Vigil or Lucernarium”. The solemn liturgy begins – usually outdoors – with the blessing of the fire followed by the preparation and lighting of the Paschal Candle. As the candle is being carried in procession into the dark church, all those in attendance are given individual candles which have received their light from the one Paschal Candle. When the Paschal Candle is placed in its prominent candle stand in the church, the church’s lights are turned back on, the candle is incensed, and the deacon (or a priest, or a lay cantor if need be) intones one of the most evocative and poetic hymns of praise in all liturgy: the Easter Proclamation – also known as the Exsultet, named after the first word of the Latin original. The liturgy’s symbolic movement has been from darkness to light; now words and music are used to praise and thank God for what the light represents: God’s saving activity throughout human history, culminating in Christ’s defeat of death and resurrection from the dead.

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Homily for the Easter Vigil, April 4, 2015

Readings for Today

We live in an age where technology has made so many things instant. The news comes to us immediately, we can text one another at the moment, and in many ways the world is just a click or two away. But this immediacy comes with a cost. Maybe it is not true for everyone, but I find in my own life I need to work at a longer attention span, back to a time when I find it (a little) easier to wait. There is the “black hole” that technology and its uses can become in our lives. Perhaps one of the biggest weaknesses is that the immediacy of technology can cause us to forget and become ignorant of our history.

For to understand the Easter Vigil means to understand the long and deep history of God’s relationship with people. In the readings tonight, especially if all are read, we are invited to “soak in” the rich salvation history. History, and the study of history is an interpretative endeavor. As much as we might like to believe there is an objective history, battles over history textbooks in states indicate that we are always seeking to discover not only “what happened”, but more importantly “what does it mean.”

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