Saturday, April 23, 2011

Third Movement of the Paschal Symphony: The Vigil of Easter

I often tell people that if they want to understand Catholicism and Catholics, all they need to do is celebrate the Sacred Triduum with us!  And tonight, the Easter Vigil, is the culmination of everything!

The basic structure of the Vigil is pretty simple, consisting of four parts.  The Service of Light, in which we move -- literally -- from darkness to the light of Christ.  The Liturgy of the Word follows, but not in the abbreviated form we normally celebrate on Sundays!  As many as seven readings from the Old Testament, each with its own responsorial psalm and reflective prayer.  Following the homily, we celebrate the sacraments of intitation: baptism, reception into full communion, and confirmation. All of this moves us into the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Simple it may be, but it touches us all at the very core of our beings.

One of the great joys and challenges for the deacon is the chanting of the ancient prayer known as the Exultet.  You can find the whole thing here.   I find the whole prayer to be a profound Easter reflection, but one passage is particularly moving and meaningful in today's world. 

The power of this holy night:

dispels all evil,

washes guilt away,
restores lost innocence,
 brings mourners joy;
 it casts our hatred,
 brings us peace
 and humbles earthly pride.

May tonight's Vigil bring us all to new life, hope and joy!


  1. Deacon Doctor Bill...what a joy to read your reflections on the Triduum. I say Amen your blessing "May tonight's Vigil bring us all to new life, hope and joy!"
    Peace and Joy in this coming Easter Season.

  2. A beautiful set of reflections - thanks so much - and happy Easter!