Program #0031 for Wednesday, April 20, 2011: The Easter Vigil Liturgy

April 20, 2011

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams

Today’s guest(s): Father Jonathan Gaspar, the Co-Director of the Office of Worship & Spiritual Life and the Priest Secretary to Cardinal Seán O’Malley

Today’s topics: The Liturgy of the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night Of Easter

A summary of today’s show: Scot, Fr. Matt, and Fr. Jonathan Gaspar go through the prayers and readings of the Easter Vigil to see how the entire Christian faith and salvation history is encapsulated in this liturgy, the high point of the whole liturgical year.

1st segment: We are now several days into Holy Week. Today is the last day of Lent. We begin the Sacred Triduum tomorrow of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Tomorrow on The Good Catholic Life we will discuss the liturgies of Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Today we will discuss the most powerful liturgy in the Church’s calendar, in Scot’s opinion, the Easter Vigil.

Fr. Matt said he is excited about the week. Thursday he will be concelebrating at St. Joseph, Holbrook. On Friday and Saturday, he will be at the Hunger for Justice retreat as discussed last week on The Good Catholic Life.

Scot welcomes Fr. Jonathan. Both of his jobs are very busy this week. What’s it like to be Cardinal Sean’s priest-secretary during Holy Week? He said it’s not unlike the parish priests who labor from morning to night during Holy Week with the extra liturgies. He invites everyone to come to the cathedral to celebrate with Cardinal Sean. All of the broadcasts can be watched this week on CatholicTV or at CatholicTV.com.

Fr. Jonathan said Easter Vigil is the basis of the Church’s liturgical year. It is the most exalted of liturgies. It goes back to the earliest centuries of the Church. 4th century Christian writers wrote about gathering in the evening to prepare for the Resurrection and it would last all night long until sunrise. Scot said you can learn most of the essentials of our Catholic faith during the Easter vigil.

The liturgy starts after nightfall and starts in a way unlike any other. Fr. Matt said it starts at dusk outdoors with the lighting of the holy fire, blessing and consecrating it. The significance is that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. The church inside is dark as well. It shows us that without Jesus, everything is dark, and the Light of the world scatters the darkness of sin. The Easter candle is lit from that candle and all the candles held by the parishioners are it from that candle. The priest recites a prayer of Christ as the Alpha and Omega and then the Easter candle is blessed.

Traditionally it was the celebrant who decorated the candle. At the cathedral, the cardinal still traces the year in four quadrants of a cross and the Greek letters for Alpha and Omega into the candle with a stylus and then five stakes of incense are placed into the candle to symbolize the wounds of Christ. The candle symbolizes the Risen Christ. When Christ is raised from the dead, He still carries within His body the wounds of the sacrifice.

Christ yesterday and today (tracing the vertical arm of the cross) the beginning and the end (the horizontal arm) Alpha and Omega (these letters, above and below the cross) All time (the first numeral, in the upper left corner of the cross) and all ages belong to Christ (the second numeral in the upper right corner) to whom be glory and sovereignty (the third numeral in the lower left corner) through every age for ever. Amen. (the last numeral in the lower right corner).

Fr. Matt said the incense shows that the Lord’s self-sacrifice is a fragrant offering to the Father.

Fr. Jonathan said the one candle lights all the tapers to fill the church with a holy glow, from darkness into the Light of Christ. We receive the light of cross and pass it on. Then there is the singing of the Easter proclamation.

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels! Exult, all creation around God’s throne! Jesus Christ, our King is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes for ever!
Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory! The risen Savior shines upon you! Let this place resound with joy, echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!

In the first part of the Easter proclamation is a call for everyone to rejoice, all the earth and all of heaven to join in this hymn of joy at the Resurrection of Christ. Scot said it connects us with heaven. This is an order in which it is sung.

Fr. Matt said the backdrop is that it comes just after Good Friday. After the devastation of Good Friday and emptiness of Holy Saturday, it is very dramatic and powerful. Fr. Jonathan said in the Extraordinary Form of the older liturgy, all the priests were still in the purple of Lent although the deacon singing this would be in white to symbolize Easter.

Scot recalls the line that Christ has conquered in a new way, unlike any other conqueror.

My dearest friends, standing with me in this holy light, join me in asking God for mercy, that he may give his unworthy minister grace to sing his Easter praises.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father, and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. For Christ has ransomed us with his blood, and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!
This is our passover feast, When Christ, the true Lamb, is slain, whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.
This is the night, when first you saved our fathers: you freed the people of Israel from their slav’ry, and led them dry-shod through the sea.
This is the night, when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin.
This is the night, when Christians ev’rywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
This is the night, when Jesus broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.
What good would life have been to us, had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Scot said never until he had heard the Exulstet did Scot believe that God had brought good even out of the evil of Original Sin. Fr. Jonathan noted the beautiful images of Christ as the Passover lamb, connecting us to the Jewish roots of our Christianity, and in Passover they offer an unblemished lamb in sacrifice to the Lord. Pontius Pilate finds no blemish, no wrong in Christ and yet Christ is led to the sacrifice. Fr. Matt said it was the sprinkled blood of the unblemished lamb that saved the Israelites from slavery and death, so too the Christian is washed in the blood of Christ.

Scot said five times the Exulstet proclaims that “this is the night!” We celebrate this in a profound way in the darkness. Fr. Jonathan said everything we believe as Christians depends on on our real belief in the empty tomb and the Resurrection of Christ. The music takes on a bit more exuberance and is more melodic. It’s because it emphasizes the biblical types, the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Scot said, just as Christ rose triumphant from the grace, he gives us the opportunity to rise triumphant with Him.

Father, how wonderful your care for us! How boundless your merciful love! To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.
O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!
Of this night scripture says: “The night will be as clear as day: it will become my light, my joy.”
The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.
Night truly blessed, when heaven is wedded to earth and Man is reconciled with God!

Scot said this will be the most powerful night in the history of the world. Fr. Matt notes that this section is addresses to the Father. How much the Father in heaven loves us that He would give us His Son who would liberate us from sin.

Fr. Jonathan said his favorite line is “when heaven is wedded to earth.” The Bible begins the wedding of Adam and Eve and ends with the wedding feast of the Lamb in Revelations. Man is reconciled to God, not by our initiative, but by God’s.

Fr. Matt says it shows how sin alienates us from God, our community, even ourselves. We see how God takes sin seriously, but also how the love of God conquers that sin.

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night, receive our evening sacrifice of praise, your Church’s solemn offering.
Accept this Easter candle, a flame divided but undimmed, a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.
Let it mingle with the lights of heaven and continue bravely burning to dispel the darkness of this night!
May the Morning Star which never sets find this flame still burning: Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on all mankind, your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Scot said this ties the prayer in with the Mass that is celebrated after this. It is a sacrifice of praise where we echo and make present the sacrifice of Christ for us on the Cross. Fr. Jonathan said we are talking to the Father as the ransomed and adopted sons and daughters He has created. The whole point of the vigil is to be a sacrifice of praise. By the end of the vigil you will be exhausted, but for all the right reasons. We talk to the Easter candle because it is the sign of the Risen Christ. In the Book of Revelations (22:16), Jesus says, “I am the Morning Star.” It is the first star of the morning, that remains visible even in the dawn. Christ remains, He is yesterday, today, and forever. Fr. Matt said we hope that our candles may be found burning when He comes again.

Fr. Jonathan explained the Easter candle. It is the largest candle in the sanctuary. During Easter season it is placed near the lectern and is always lit. During baptism, a candle is lit from the Easter candle, a sign that the life of Easter is passed on through the sacraments of the Church ,especially baptism, which is the gateway of life. The candle is placed at the head of the casket at a funeral to symbolize that Christ is the beginning and end and so we light that candle as a sign that the deceased kept the flame burning throughout their lives.

Now we have the 7 Old Testament readings, the most important readings in the OT that help us to understand Christ’s coming and the significance.

The first is the story of God’s creation of the universe in 7 stages. He looked at everything He had made and it was good.

1st Reading: Genesis 1:1-2:2

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss,
while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

Then God said,
“Let there be light,” and there was light.
God saw how good the light was.
God then separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”
Thus evening came, and morning followed—the first day.

Then God said,
“Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters,
to separate one body of water from the other.”
And so it happened:
God made the dome,
and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it.
God called the dome “the sky.”
Evening came, and morning followed—the second day.

Then God said,
“Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin,
so that the dry land may appear.”
And so it happened:
the water under the sky was gathered into its basin,
and the dry land appeared.
God called the dry land “the earth, “
and the basin of the water he called “the sea.”
God saw how good it was.
Then God said,
“Let the earth bring forth vegetation:
every kind of plant that bears seed
and every kind of fruit tree on earth
that bears fruit with its seed in it.”
And so it happened:
the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed
and every kind of fruit tree on earth
that bears fruit with its seed in it.
God saw how good it was.
Evening came, and morning followed—the third day.

Then God said:
“Let there be lights in the dome of the sky,
to separate day from night.
Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years,
and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky,
to shed light upon the earth.”
And so it happened:
God made the two great lights,
the greater one to govern the day,
and the lesser one to govern the night;
and he made the stars.
God set them in the dome of the sky,
to shed light upon the earth,
to govern the day and the night,
and to separate the light from the darkness.
God saw how good it was.
Evening came, and morning followed—the fourth day.

Then God said,
“Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures,
and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky.”
And so it happened:
God created the great sea monsters
and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems,
and all kinds of winged birds.
God saw how good it was, and God blessed them, saying,
“Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas;
and let the birds multiply on the earth.”
Evening came, and morning followed—the fifth day.

Then God said,
“Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures:
cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds.”
And so it happened:
God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle,
and all kinds of creeping things of the earth.
God saw how good it was.
Then God said:
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air, and the cattle,
and over all the wild animals
and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”
God created man in his image;
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying:
“Be fertile and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air,
and all the living things that move on the earth.”
God also said:
“See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth
and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;
and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air,
and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground,
I give all the green plants for food.”
And so it happened.
God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.
Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed.
Since on the seventh day God was finished
with the work he had been doing,
he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.

The second reading is the story of Abraham and Isaac. God tests Abraham and asks Abraham to sacrifice his son and much of the story reflects the crucifixion. Isaac carries the wood of his own sacrifice to the top of the mountain. Abraham says God Himself will provide the sacrifice, prefiguring Christ.

2nd Reading: Genesis 22:1-18

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you.”
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey,
took with him his son Isaac and two of his servants as well,
and with the wood that he had cut for the holocaust,
set out for the place of which God had told him.

On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar.
Then he said to his servants:
“Both of you stay here with the donkey,
while the boy and I go on over yonder.
We will worship and then come back to you.”
Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the holocaust
and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,
while he himself carried the fire and the knife.
As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham:
“Father!” Isaac said.
“Yes, son, “ he replied.
Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood,
but where is the sheep for the holocaust?”
“Son,” Abraham answered,
“God himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust.”
Then the two continued going forward.

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Next he tied up his son Isaac,
and put him on top of the wood on the altar.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.
Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh;
hence people now say, AOn the mountain the LORD will see.”

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessingC
all this because you obeyed my command.”

The 3rd reading is the freeing of the people from Egypt under Moses and this reading is followed by the Psalm called the Canticle of Moses.

3rd Reading: Exodus 14:15—15:1

The LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?
Tell the Israelites to go forward.
And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea,
split the sea in two,
that the Israelites may pass through it on dry land.
But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate
that they will go in after them.
Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army,
his chariots and charioteers.
The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD,
when I receive glory through Pharaoh
and his chariots and charioteers.”

The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s camp,
now moved and went around behind them.
The column of cloud also, leaving the front,
took up its place behind them,
so that it came between the camp of the Egyptians
and that of Israel.
But the cloud now became dark, and thus the night passed
without the rival camps coming any closer together
all night long.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and the LORD swept the sea
with a strong east wind throughout the night
and so turned it into dry land.
When the water was thus divided,
the Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.

The Egyptians followed in pursuit;
all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and charioteers went after them
right into the midst of the sea.
In the night watch just before dawn
the LORD cast through the column of the fiery cloud
upon the Egyptian force a glance that threw it into a panic;
and he so clogged their chariot wheels
that they could hardly drive.
With that the Egyptians sounded the retreat before Israel,
because the LORD was fighting for them against the Egyptians.

Then the LORD told Moses, AStretch out your hand over the sea,
that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians,
upon their chariots and their charioteers.”
So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth.
The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward the sea,
when the LORD hurled them into its midst.
As the water flowed back,
it covered the chariots and the charioteers of Pharaoh’s whole army
which had followed the Israelites into the sea.
Not a single one of them escaped.
But the Israelites had marched on dry land
through the midst of the sea,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.
Thus the LORD saved Israel on that day
from the power of the Egyptians.
When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore
and beheld the great power that the LORD
had shown against the Egyptians,
they feared the LORD and believed in him and in his servant Moses.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:
I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.

The 4th reading recounts Israel’s abandonment of God at times, but God taking them back. God’s love will never leave us, even though our faith may be shaken. God comes back to His people, regardless of what we’ve done. There is no sin we can commit that God’s love won’t compensate for.

4th Reading: Isaiah 54:5-14

The One who has become your husband is your Maker;
his name is the LORD of hosts;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
called God of all the earth.
The LORD calls you back,
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
a wife married in youth and then cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great tenderness I will take you back.
In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
I hid my face from you;
but with enduring love I take pity on you,
says the LORD, your redeemer.
This is for me like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah
should never again deluge the earth;
so I have sworn not to be angry with you,
or to rebuke you.
Though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be shaken,
my love shall never leave you
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
O afflicted one, storm-battered and unconsoled,
I lay your pavements in carnelians,
and your foundations in sapphires;
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the LORD,
and great shall be the peace of your children.
In justice shall you be established,
far from the fear of oppression,
where destruction cannot come near you.

In the 5th reading, we are called to come to the water to receive nourishment from the Lord. We are to seek the Lord as our source of life-giving satisfaction for our souls. “My Word will not return to me void.” The Word is Christ and He brings great fruits through His incarnation.

5th Reading: Isaiah 55:1-11

Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life:
listen, and know prudence!
How is it, Israel,
that you are in the land of your foes,
grown old in a foreign land,
defiled with the dead,
accounted with those destined for the netherworld?
You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom!
Had you walked in the way of God,
you would have dwelt in enduring peace.
Learn where prudence is,
where strength, where understanding;
that you may know also
where are length of days, and life,
where light of the eyes, and peace.
Who has found the place of wisdom,
who has entered into her treasuries?

The One who knows all things knows her;
he has probed her by his knowledgeC
The One who established the earth for all time,
and filled it with four-footed beasts;
he who dismisses the light, and it departs,
calls it, and it obeys him trembling;
before whom the stars at their posts
shine and rejoice;
when he calls them, they answer, “Here we are!”
shining with joy for their Maker.
Such is our God;
no other is to be compared to him:
He has traced out the whole way of understanding,
and has given her to Jacob, his servant,
to Israel, his beloved son.

Since then she has appeared on earth,
and moved among people.
She is the book of the precepts of God,
the law that endures forever;
all who cling to her will live,
but those will die who forsake her.
Turn, O Jacob, and receive her:
walk by her light toward splendor.
Give not your glory to another,
your privileges to an alien race.
Blessed are we, O Israel;
for what pleases God is known to us!

In the 6th reading, we hear what we need to know where the answers are found. God has traced the whole path of understanding him to the Israelites and the prophet says how blessed Israel is for what pleases God is known to them. We know the things of God because Jesus has revealed them to us.

6th Reading: Baruch 3:9-15,32-4:48

Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life:
listen, and know prudence!
How is it, Israel,
that you are in the land of your foes,
grown old in a foreign land,
defiled with the dead,
accounted with those destined for the netherworld?
You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom!
Had you walked in the way of God,
you would have dwelt in enduring peace.
Learn where prudence is,
where strength, where understanding;
that you may know also
where are length of days, and life,
where light of the eyes, and peace.
Who has found the place of wisdom,
who has entered into her treasuries?

The One who knows all things knows her;
he has probed her by his knowledge
The One who established the earth for all time,
and filled it with four-footed beasts;
he who dismisses the light, and it departs,
calls it, and it obeys him trembling;
before whom the stars at their posts
shine and rejoice;
when he calls them, they answer, “Here we are!”
shining with joy for their Maker.
Such is our God;
no other is to be compared to him:
He has traced out the whole way of understanding,
and has given her to Jacob, his servant,
to Israel, his beloved son.

Since then she has appeared on earth,
and moved among people.
She is the book of the precepts of God,
the law that endures forever;
all who cling to her will live,
but those will die who forsake her.
Turn, O Jacob, and receive her:
walk by her light toward splendor.
Give not your glory to another,
your privileges to an alien race.
Blessed are we, O Israel;
for what pleases God is known to us!

In the 7th reading, the Lord tells us He will make us new. It prefigures baptism with the sprinkling of water that will gives us a new heart and a new spirit. It is a new life of grace through baptism.

7th Reading: Ezekiel 36:16-17a, 18-28

The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their land,
they defiled it by their conduct and deeds.
Therefore I poured out my fury upon them
because of the blood that they poured out on the ground,
and because they defiled it with idols.
I scattered them among the nations,
dispersing them over foreign lands;
according to their conduct and deeds I judged them.
But when they came among the nations wherever they came,
they served to profane my holy name,
because it was said of them: “These are the people of the LORD,
yet they had to leave their land.”
So I have relented because of my holy name
which the house of Israel profaned
among the nations where they came.
Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD:
Not for your sakes do I act, house of Israel,
but for the sake of my holy name,
which you profaned among the nations to which you came.
I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations,
in whose midst you have profaned it.
Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD,
when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.
For I will take you away from among the nations,
gather you from all the foreign lands,
and bring you back to your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes,
careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your fathers;
you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

2nd segment: It’s time to announce the winner of this week’s WQOM Benefactor Raffle. Our prize this week is a copy of the book “Priest: Portraits of Ten Good Men Serving the Church Today,” by Michael Rose. The book communicates the virtuous institution of the priesthood by telling the stories of ten faithful priests who are living examples of holiness, sacrifice, and love of God. This week’s winner is Bob Ricci from Tewksbury, MA. Congratulations to Bob. If you would like to be eligible to win in an upcoming week, please visit WQOM.org. For a one-time $30 donation, you’ll receive the Station of the Cross benefactor card and key tag, making you eligible for our weekly raffle of books, DVDs, CDs and religious items. We’ll be announcing the winner each Wednesday during “The Good Catholic Life” program.

3rd segment:

Once the readings are completed, the bells of the church are rung, the lights come on and then the Gloria is sung. Fr. Jonathan said we keep the lights off until this point to let loose all the joy we’ve been holding in by singing the Gloria. On Holy Thursday is the last time we will sing the Gloria until the Easter Vigil. In the Vigil we’ve listened to the stories that lead us to Christ and the Church again sings the song of the praise of angels.

Now the Epistle is read. Saint Paul writes to the Romans that we become buried with Christ in death so that we can rise with him by the glory of the Father and have newness of life!

Epistle: Romans 6:3-11

Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his,
we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
We know that our old self was crucified with him,
so that our sinful body might be done away with,
that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.
As to his death, he died to sin once and for all;
as to his life, he lives for God.
Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.

In the Gospel, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary discover the empty tomb, meet the angel who instructs them to tell the disciples that Jesus has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee and you will see him there. Jesus met them on the way and told them to don’t be afraid and to tell the other disciples. Fr. Matt said Christ shows that the Old Testament is revealed in the New.

Gospel: Matthew 28:1-10

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
“Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
‘He has been raised from the dead,
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.’
Behold, I have told you.”
Then they went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”

Unique to the Easter Vigil is the Liturgy of Baptism for those entering the Church. Fr. Jonathan said it begins at the beginning of Lent. In Boston over 600 people have been preparing to enter the Church at Easter. Lent is a time to prepare. In this moment, when we look back at the events of Good Friday and the soldier pierces the Body of Christ and water and blood flows forth. In the same way, the Body of Christ gives us baptism (water) and the Eucharist (blood). We celebrate the events of history by witnessing the power of Christ’s grace breaking into the souls of those about to be baptized. Everyone present is asked to renew their baptismal vows.

Fr. Matt said most of us had our baptismal vows said by our parents, but here we can do this for ourselves. We start by rejecting Satan and sin and then professing our faith in God.

Fr. Jonathan said those who were just baptized and were baptized before now receive the sacrament of confirmation. Scot said 150,000 people across the country will be entering the Church this Easter. The Church wants us all to remember our baptism and our First Communion and our confirmation.

Scot said the Easter vigil can take couple of hours, but it’s well worth it and it can change you. It’s like a retreat.

Fr. Matt said the Divine Mercy novena starts on Good Friday. St. Faustina was canonized by Pope John Paul II. She received private revelations of Christ and His Divine Mercy. It’s an opportunity to intercede on behalf of the Church and the world, culminating on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1, the second Sunday of Easter and the day Pope John Paul II will be beatified.

All parishes of the archdiocese will be open tonight from 6:30-8pm for the last Wednesday of the Light is On For You.

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