Easter Vigil in the Holy Night & Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

Happy Easter! We have, at long last, reached the celebration of the resurrection of the Lord. And what a series of celebrations we have had, between the Easter vigil and the two Sunday morning Masses!

As I told the servers before Mass, the Easter vigil is the most solemn, the most important Mass of the entire liturgical year. It is our great privilege to be ministers of the mysteries we celebrate this night – and we do our best to do so with reverence, care, and attention to detail.

And there are a LOT of details. The first half of the day, in the morning, was spent in rehearsals. The servers and I spent and hour & a half going over the Mass, from top to bottom. After a brief break – fueled by several pizzas from Dominos – those to receive sacraments of initiation ran through their own rehearsal of the rites of baptism & confirmation.

When the night finally came, things fell together wonderfully. I won’t say that it was without a few hitches – not the least being my voice beginning to give out! But the Mass was beautiful. I have many favorite moments, but the most mystical one was during the Exsultet. Inside the church, illuminated only by the candles held by the congregation and the altar servers, with the smoke of the incense floating above us, the history of God’s plan for salvation was sung. This is one of the great highlights of the liturgy for me, and one I look forward to throughout the year.

We continued on with the Old Testament readings – proclaimed in the darkness. When we finally reached the seventh and final reading, the gloria was proclaimed and the lights came up. Servers lit all the candles in the church while bells rang out. At last, the light of Christ has dispelled the long dark night of Lent! I was struck by the contrast of extinguishing the candles at Tenebrae (the Service of Shadows) and lighting them anew at Easter: death & darkness do not prevail.

For the first time in a long time, we had baptisms and confirmations at the Easter vigil. I think my face is sore from how much smiling I did throughout – these folks were ready! They were so excited to be baptized and confirmed, and their joy was contagious. As I look through the photos of the night (thank you, Hope, for taking them!), I find myself smiling all over again.

All in all, the Mass was nearly three hours long – but it felt like it moved far quicker than that. And at the end, no one rushed out to leave! Thanks to the generosity of many parishioners, we had a wonderful reception afterwards – home made coconut macaroons (so good!), cake, fruit, sandwiches, sweets and more.

While I can’t pretend I wasn’t dragging a bit on Sunday, both of the Easter Masses were lovely – and packed! Special kudos, by the way, to the many volunteers who came back to serve on Sunday mere hours after the Easter vigil! There were a lot of naps being taken Sunday afternoon, I’m sure 🙂

Of course, Easter is not ended but rather, just beginning – we have a whole octave of celebrations, each day of which is a solemnity! And the entire Easter season – running until Pentecost – is fifty days. May we use it well, rejoicing in the graciousness of our Saviour, praying for all of those who received the sacraments of initiation, and proclaiming the Good News: He is risen, He is risen indeed!