Easter Vigil Mass ~ Saturday 8 April 2023 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Genesis 1: 1-2:2; Responsorial: Psalm 104; II: Genesis 22: 1-18; Responsorial: Psalm 16; III: Exodus 14: 15-15:1; Responsorial: Exodues 15:1-6, 17&18; IV: Isaiah 54: 5-14; Responsorial: Psalm 30; V: Isaiah 55: 1-11; Responsorial: Isaiah 12: 2-6; VI: Baruch 3: 9-15, 32-4:4; Responsorial: Psalm 19; VII: Ezekiel 36: 16-28; Responsorial: Psalm 42; GLORIA; Epistle: Romans 6: 3-11; Responsorial: Psalm 118; Gospel: Matthew: 28:1-10

Do not be afraid. He has risen!

Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. it is about the conquest of sin and death through the grace, mercy, and love of God. It is about Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the tomb for all and for each of us, individually. To truly celebrate Easter, the risen Christ it is essential to know and be growing in His Risen Presence. But how do we come to the tomb? How do we find Jesus among the sorrows and disappointments of this life? How do we KNOW, how do we truly EXPERIENCE, that Jesus Christ is risen, today, in my heart, in my life in our world? We can follow, without fear or disappointment, the way of the cross and the path to the empty tomb with the saints, the faithful who have gone before us.

The Catholic Church, for millennia, has begun the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus with the Easter Vigil Mass. In accordance with the Hebrew observance of time, it was recognized the third day began on Saturday night. The joy of Easter would dawn after Christ had departed the tomb on that holy night.

It should be understood that this is the longest of liturgies in the Catholic Church. Even if a shortened list of readings is used this Mass can easily last two or more hours. It is also common for the Sacraments of Initiation to be celebrated (Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation). It is deeply rooted, as is all liturgy in Scripture. From Genesis to the Gospel with affirmation from the responsorial Psalms it shares the story of our shared salvation history. I would encourage you for an incomparable Easter to prayerfully read the Scriptures for this Mass. Allow God’s Word to lead His way to the tomb, emptied by the power of God’s holiness and love.

There is another powerful, unique segment to this Mass. After the procession into the dark church, with everyone assembled there is proclaimed the Exsultet. This ancient proclamation has a history obscured in time. It is generally dated to probably the fifth century. Once proclaimed in Latin it is now shared in the vernacular of the people. It is a long piece and the rich lesson it shares may be lost to some because of its length. But since it is so powerful and beautiful I ask you to prayerfully read and listen to the psalm of the resurrection. Read, listen, and share this psalm of praise to our Risen Lord and let the Holy Spirit draw you into the embrace of He who conquered sin and death.

Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!

Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,
ablaze with light from her eternal King,
let all corners of the earth be glad,
knowing an end to gloom and darkness.

Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,
arrayed with the lightning of his glory,
let this holy building shake with joy,
filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.

(Therefore, dearest friends,
standing in the awesome glory of this holy light,
invoke with me, I ask you,
the mercy of God almighty,
that he, who has been pleased to number me,
though unworthy, among the Levites,
may pour into me his light unshadowed,
that I may sing this candle’s perfect praises.)

(V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.)
V. Lift up your hearts.
R. We lift them up to the Lord.
V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R. It is right and just.

It is truly right and just, with ardent love of mind and heart
and with devoted service of our voice,
to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father,
and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.

Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father,
and, pouring out his own dear Blood,
wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.

These, then, are the feasts of Passover,
in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb,
whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.

This is the night,
when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children,
from slavery in Egypt
and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.

This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
banished the darkness of sin.

This is the night
that even now, throughout the world,
sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices
and from the gloom of sin,
leading them to grace
and joining them to his holy ones.

This is the night,
when Christ broke the prison-bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld.

Our birth would have been no gain,
had we not been redeemed.

O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!
O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O happy fault
that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

O truly blessed night,
worthy alone to know the time and hour
when Christ rose from the underworld!

This is the night
of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me,
and full of gladness.

The sanctifying power of this night
dispels wickedness, washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.  
On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,
which glowing fire ignites for God’s honor,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees
to build a torch so precious.

O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.

Therefore, O Lord,
we pray you that this candle,
hallowed to the honor of your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night.

Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,
and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.

May this flame be found still burning
by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets,
Christ your Son,
who, coming back from death’s domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

Excerpt from the English translation of the Roman Missal© 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved