It is the long awaited “red carpet” event of the year. There will be the most fragrant of flowers, candle light and music. People from around the world will gather, remember, listen to stories and share in a meal with food that can only be described as “divine.” It is the Easter Vigil.
We will gather in darkness and silence, still carrying with us the memories of the Good Friday events. We will be drawn around a fire, blazing in the night. The priest presider will take a large wax candle and carve the cross into its wax, reminding us of Christ, who is our alpha and omega. A tiny spark will touch the wick, piercing the darkness. We will turn to follow Christ our light. Gathered again in the church, each of us will accept the light as it is passed candle to candle. The church lights will begin to reveal the flowers and decorations that have prepared our worship space for the seven weeks of Easter glory that lies ahead. “Rejoice” will ring through the church as the exultet is proclaimed.
We will listen to the stories and sing the songs, which speak of the faith of our ancestors. We will recall the blessing of God upon us from the beginning of time, in his creation, deliverance and sustenance. Is it any wonder that, after hearing these Scriptures, every voice is compelled to break into the song of the Gloria?
The epistle, heard only on this night, will be proclaimed. The Alleluia, silenced during the time of Lent, will grow stronger and stronger as we sing. As the Book of Gospels is carried in procession, we may smell, even before we see, the clouds of incense.
After the homily, the church will again engage in actions special to the Easter Vigil. People will wait expectantly to renew themselves by holy water, as they witness the catechumens being baptized and candidates welcomed. The scent of sacred chrism will waft through the air as these new members of the church are all confirmed.
Now we move into what is familiar mystery, as we participate in the words and actions of the eucharistic prayer. With humble hearts, we come forward to receive him, whom death could not overcome.
The Easter Vigil, the mother of all liturgies, and a place at the table has been reserved for you since the day of your baptism. Surely, you will want to be there.
Zahorik is director of worship at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh.