The Easter Vigil, as told by New Girl

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IT’S TRIDUUM, Y’ALL! This awesome celebration and remembrance of the saving acts of Jesus Christ follows our solemn observance of the liturgical season of Lent, beginning with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and ending with the celebration of the Easter Vigil.

 

Services this time of year tend to be a bit longer than the average weekday mass, and Holy Week brings us a wide array of emotions, which culminate in the ecstatic joy of Easter Sunday and the Resurrection of our Lord.

 

Arguably the most beautiful liturgy of the year, the Easter Vigil is described in the rubrics of the Missale Romanum as the “mother of all vigils.” The celebration begins with the Service of Light in which the congregation first gathers around a single fire which the celebrant blesses. The Paschal Candle is brought forward and lit from this fire. Those participating hold unlit candles and everyone processes into the darkened church.

 

As the priest approaches the sanctuary, he hands his candle over to a server and makes the Easter Proclamation from the ambo or lectern. 

The Liturgy of the Word begins and everybody buckles in for the longest liturgical celebration of the year. Seven readings from the Old Testament, one reading from the New Testament, and the typical Gospel reading set everyone up for the glory that is to come. The homilist gears up for a sermon, which, even if brief, must be included after the nine readings from Scripture.

 

As a reminder, this is the first time since before Ash Wednesday that the Church gets to sing the Alleluia before the Gospel. But don’t bust out the pipes and bells just yet. The Gospel intonation at the Easter Vigil is meant to be solemn and sung three times by the presider.

The Liturgy of the Word segues into the Liturgy of Baptism! All those who have been preparing to enter the Church through the process of RCIA get hyped to finally celebrate either the first or the remainder of their Sacraments of Initiation.

 

The initiation process begins with a blessing of the holy waters in the baptismal font, following by the profession of faith and renunciation of Satan by those being baptized. They are immersed in the font (depending on the size and style of the font) and become official members of the Catholic Church! The entire congregation may then be invited to renew their baptismal promises and a sprinkling rite may occur.

 

If the candidates from RCIA are also receiving Confirmation, the rite takes place in the sanctuary after the Baptisms.

Next, the Liturgy of the Eucharist rounds out this mystical experience. For those receiving their First Communion, a special exhortation about the sanctity and importance of the Blessed Sacrament is given. With their reception of the Eucharist, the former candidates are fully initiated into the Church and are invited to fully participate in the Eucharist going forward! 

 

At the Easter Vigil, the Liturgy of the Eucharist is meant to be concluded solemnly. Once the liturgy is over, however, everyone exits the Church in joyful anticipation of Easter Sunday!

 

 

Alleluia!

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