EASTER VIGIL

EASTER VIGIL

The Easter Vigil is an ancient Christian liturgy that happens in four parts:

LITURGY OF LIGHT

The paschal candle is lit from a new fire and carried into the darkened church, as “The Light of Christ” is proclaimed three times. The ancient chant, the Exsultet, rejoices at the present reality of God’s deliverance and the blessings of salvation through the Passover of Christ.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The sequence of Old Testament readings and psalms recalls the history of the Jewish covenant leading up to Christ. These readings cover the time from creation to the promise of the final gathering of God’s people, interpreted through the central experience of the Exodus.

BAPTISMAL LITURGY

In the early Church, the Easter Vigil was the time for baptisms. Those who had received instruction (over a period of up to three years) and had prepared by fasting and prayer were presented for initiation into the Christian community.

Affirming the baptismal creed, they were baptized and then donned white garments. The newly baptized then received the laying-on of hands by the bishop, were sealed with chrism (consecrated oil), and received Holy Communion.

LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST

Now in bread and wine, Jesus comes among us in the Eucharist. He comes into the darkness of our lives with his risen life. The time of waiting in completed, yet we also look ahead to the final fulfillment of the paschal banquet when we shall see him face to face.