Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil)
The Easter Vigil is so dramatic in its symbolism—darkness and light, fire and water—so grand in its vision of salvation history unfolded in the Scriptures—that we easily overlook the bees. “O holy Father, accept this candle, a solemn offering, the work of bees…this gift from your most holy Church,” we hear chanted in the Easter Proclamation, the Exultet. “Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven, exult, let Angel ministers of God exult!” Angels and “your most holy Church” and bees: the tall Paschal Candle joins them all together to greet “the Morning Star who never sets.” This song is for all creation to sing, from angels to bees, highest to lowest, and humanity in the middle given voice by “your most holy Church.” The bees are not at all incongruous with the Vigil’s drama. They are necessary to complete the vision of all creation renewed by Christ’s Resurrection. But what about that “most holy Church?” Is that the real incongruity here? The bees, after all, have done their job; the candle stands there as witness. But what about “most holy Church?” Is our job done and that “most holy” deserved? No, not done and not deserved. But still we can claim that “most holy.” It is ours because the Church singing this is the Body of Christ, joined to its Head and living by His Spirit. It is by the Resurrection (not by our own doing!) that we are raised up to that “most holy.”
O Risen Christ, by the power of your Resurrection, raise us up!
Fr. Richard Berube, S.S.E. ‘66, Saint Michael’s College Edmundite Community
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website