As Jesus lies in the tomb, we come to my favorite part of the Sacred Triduum – The Easter Vigil. The Easter Vigil is the Mass where the new Catholic converts are welcomed into the Catholic Church. As the Sacred Liturgy begins, there is the Blessing of the Fire and the Preparation of the Candle. After the candle is prepared, the Easter Proclamation is recited. During the Liturgy of the Word, we hear the seven Old Testament readings of Salvation History accompanied with seven Psalms in response, an epistle from Paul, and then the Gospel Reading. For those of us that love the Scriptures and Salvation History, this Mass is by far the best set of readings for the entire year.
After the homily is given, the Baptismal Liturgy begins which includes the Litany of the Saints, the blessing of the baptismal water, the rite of baptism (Catechumens come forward with their Sponsors), and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises by the faithful. If you never seen an adult baptized, I encourage you to attend the Vigil. It’s a moving experience!
Once everyone is baptized and has received the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins and Mass continues and concludes as normal. The Catechumens for the first time receive Jesus Christ – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. As the Easter Vigil comes to a close, the Church finds herself in the Easter Season looking 40 days ahead to the Ascension of Our Lord and 50 days to the Great Feast of Pentecost.
On Easter Sunday, we celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection over sin and death. We cannot have the Resurrection without the Crucifixion. The Paschal Mystery – Passion, Death, and Resurrection is now complete. Jesus Christ has Risen from the Dead!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1169 states, “Therefore Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the “Feast of feasts,” the “Solemnity of solemnities,” just as the Eucharist is the “Sacrament of sacraments” (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls Easter “the Great Sunday” and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week “the Great Week.” The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him.”
If there are any converts that read this blog, please share with us your conversion story and the night you were received into the Catholic Church. In the modern era of the Church, the converts are brining life back to the Church. I know so many converts and some taught me Catholic theology in graduate school.
Holy Sepulchre – The Tomb of Jesus