The first time I experienced the Easter Vigil I was a student and seminarian at Saint Michael's College (growing up on a farm had precluded ever attending the Vigil). The first time I FELT the Easter Vigil was while ministering in Caracas among the people of the Las Minas de Baruta shanty-town community then under Edmundite pastoral care.
The difference between the first “first time” and the second may be compared to the distance between head and heart. The former carried with it all the “excitement” of a task I had to get done. In contrast, the latter had all the vitality imaginable to the human spirit. To some, the Easter Vigil ceremony may seem a needlessly prolonged one. Yet, when well-done, it touches the soul in a unique way by rehearsing the deeply human mystery of darkness and light.
It may seem that I am making strong pitch for people—you the reader—to attend the Easter Vigil ceremony at your place of worship. In a way, this is true because it is impossible to put into words the power today’s liturgy exhibits in the drama of darkness and light, in the story of salvation retold in the readings and the beauty of its liturgy. It’s not possible to exaggerate its impact on the heart.
After attending the Easter Vigil liturgy, I encourage you to pray the homily Pope Benedict gave at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in 2007, which you will find on the website: http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/homilies/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20070407_veglia-pasquale.html.
(And, if you have a good excuse for not attending the Easter Vigil Mass, praying Pope Benedict’s homily will at least inspire you to appreciate God's infinite goodness and love for our human family down through the ages, and as personalized in our Resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ.)
Gracious God, grant us always to see ourselves as Your children and sisters and brothers with all people. Fill us with Your grace so that we may be one in mind and heart, both individually and in community. May the Holy Spirit of Your Love always be the Light of Life for us. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. Amen.
Fr. Marcel Rainville, S.S.E. ’67, Edmundite Campus Ministry
First Reading: Genesis 1:1-2:2 or 1:1, 26-31aPsalm 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12-14, 24, 35 or Psalm 33:4-7, 12-13, 20, 22
Second Reading: Genesis 22:1-18 or 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Psalm 16:5, 8-11
Third Reading: Exodus 14:15—15:1
(Psalm) Exodus 15:1-6, 17-18
Fourth Reading: Isaiah 54:5-14
Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13
Fifth Reading: Isaiah 55:1-11
(Psalm) Isaiah 12:2-3, 4-6
Sixth Reading: Baruch 3:9-15, 32—4:4
Seventh Reading: Ezekiel 36:16-17a, 18-28
Psalm 42:3, 5; 43:3-4
Eighth Reading: Romans 6:3-11
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Gospel: Matthew 28:1-10
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website