Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Sunday - The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Resurrection Stained Glass, Sacred Heart Church Honolulu
Jesus had a serene disregard for worldly renown. His birth had been obscure, His parents common folk.  For many years He worked as a carpenter to support His widowed Mother.  Though His miracles made Him a public figure, His "hard sayings" won Him the wrath of the hypocrites, who "in the hour of darkness" had their way with Him. On Calvary, He was surrounded by a jeering rabble, gloating that the self-styled King of the Jews was in His proper place- "with two other malefactors."  But on Easter, there was no one with Him to rejoice at His Resurrection.

Jesus had many witnesses of His failures, but none at His crowning success.  His loneliest moment was His triumphal resurrection.  He was a success first of all before God--the only worthwhile success.

Glorious Mysteries Rosary Meditation, The Prayer Book, Catholic Press.

A very happy and blessed Easter to you and your family.

A Holy Saturday Meditation

Picture source
For three hours, Satan contemplated his masterpiece, the dying Jesus. How easy it had been, after all! Years before, Satan had borne Jesus to the temple roof, and challenged Him: "Cast Thyself hence!" Jesus had overcome him with a refusal to presume upon His Father's power. Now, borne high on Calvary, Jesus is again challenged. "Cast Thyself hence! Come down from the cross! He refuses, and Satan claims the victory. But then Jesus dies, and the centurion cries aloud: "This is God's Son"; the temple curtain is ripped in two, the dead rise from their graves, heaven's gates open wide, and Jesus triumphantly leads a repentant thief into Paradise.

Jesus' refusal to come down from the cross was His greatest victory over Satan. By accepting my life's crosses patiently, prayerfully, I overcome hell.

The Crucifixion Rosary Meditation: The Prayer Book, Catholic Press

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Good Friday

Picture source

Commemorating the Passion and Death of Our Lord.

Reminder: The Divine Mercy Novena Begins on Good Friday and Local Divine Mercy Invitation

Since I won't be on the computer tomorrow, I am posting the link to the Divine Mercy Novena today.

Divine Mercy Novena

For those of you who will be praying novena for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, be sure to sign up to receive the emails. If I receive the first day email late tonight, I will not be able to post the First Day intentions here.

Also, I want to share an invitation which came from Rose of the Divine Mercy Center of Hawaii:

You're Invited to
A Special Divine Mercy Sunday and New Adoration Chapel Dedication Mass

Join us for the official inauguration of The Blessed Pope John Paul II Adoration Chapel at St. Joseph's Church in Waipahu
DATE: May 1, 2011 Divine Mercy Sunday
TIME: 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
LOCATION: St. Joseph's Church
94-675 Farrington Highway, Waipahu

2:00 pm Visit the Parish Hall for Eucharistic Adoration
and Divine Mercy Materials

2:30 pm Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy Prayers

3:00 pm Holy Mass to be officiated by Bishop Larry Silva
with the LaSalette priests concelebrating
Eucharistic Procession after the Mass

4:00 pm Refreshments in Parish Hall

Simon of Cyrene, the Scandal of the Cross, and Some Life Sight News

Father Gordon's latest has been posted and it is a good one!

Simon of Cyrene the Scandal of the Cross and Some Life Site News

Bishop of Springfield authorizes St. Michael Prayer after Masses

His Excellency the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, has authorized the public recitation of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel - originally composed by the Holy Father Pope Leo XIII in 1886 - following the dismissal at the end of Mass and before the recession.

He announced this authorization to the priests of the Diocese at a dinner preceding the Chrism Mass Tuesday evening and to the people of the Diocese at the conclusion of the Chrism Mass.

Prayer cards with the text of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel were distributed after every Mass with the newly blessed and consecrated oils to be place in the pews of the parish churches throughout the Diocese.

Father Daren has more here.

Let us pray that more bishops will follow Bishop Paprocki example.

BTW, my family recites the St. Michael Prayer following Holy Communion...after our prayers of Thanksgiving.

Prayer for Priests

Divine Savior Jesus Christ, who has entrusted the whole work of your redemption, the welfare, and salvation of the world to priests as your representatives, through the hands of your most holy Mother and for the sanctification of your priests and candidates for the priesthood, I offer you this present day wholly and entirely, with all its prayers, works, joys, sacrifices, and sorrows,.  Give us truly holy priests who, inflamed with the fire of your divine love, seek nothing but your greater glory and the salvation of souls.

And you, Mary, good Mother of priests, protect all our priests int eh dangers of their holy vocation and with the loving hand of a Mother, also lead back to the Good Shepherd those poor priests who have become unfaithful to their exalted vocation and have gone astray.  Amen.

- Holy Week 2011 Magnficat

Holy Thursday - Institution of the Sacrifice of the Mass

Picture source

Our Blessed Lord instituted this sacrifice of the Mass at the Last Supper. On the very night in which He was betrayed, He changed bread and wine into His Body and Blood, and gave to the Apostles and to their successors, the power to do the same in commemoration of Him. In obedience to the commands of our Lord, the Apostles frequently offered up the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as we see from the Acts of the Apostles (Chap .ii. 42) and from the writings of the Fathers of the Church...When St. Andrew, the Apostle, was required by the tyrant Aegeas, to sacrifice to the gods, if he wished to escape the punishment of the cross, he replied: "I daily offer up on the altar to the only true and Almighty God, the Immaculate Lamb, which though it is consumed, remains always living and entire...An altar implies a sacrifice, since an altar is used only for sacrifice... The Fathers of the Church commonly speak of the Mass as 'a salutary sacrifice. St. Cyprian...calls it 'an everlasting sacrifice.' St. Augustine...declares it to be 'a true and august sacrifice, and that it has supplanted all former sacrifices.'...St. John Chrysostom: 'O wonder!' he exclaims in his Homily De Sacra Mensa, 'At this table, so magnificently furnished, the Lamb of God is immolated for thee; there the Cherubim are present; there the Seraphim attend; there all the Angels join with the priest in praying for thy welfare.'

"The Last Supper by Philippe de Champaigne

Picture source his book, De Sacrificio, he says: "When thou beholdest the Lord immolated and lying upon the altar and the priest bending over the sacrifice and praying and all the assistants reddened with that precious blood, dost thou think that thou art still on earth? Does it not rather seem to thee that thou art wrapt into Paradise, and beholdin, with the eye of thy soul, the things that are done in heaven?"

Picture source

..."How surpassingly pure ought he to be who offers such a sacrifice?  Ought not the hand that divides this sacred flesh-- the mouth that is filled with this spiritual fire--the tongue that is dyed with this most sacred blood be purer than the light of the suns?  Think how though are honored, to what a banquet thou art admitted!  Thus, before which the Angels tremble and veil their faces, is our food; we are united to Christ; we are made one body and one flesh with Him!"...

Excerpts from The Blessed Eucharist: Our Greatest Treasure by Fr. Michael Muller, C.S.s.R.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spy Wednesday

Judas receiving payment for betraying Jesus - by Giotto
Picture source

"Judas is neither a master of evil nor the figure of a demoniacal power of darkness but rather a sycophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion. But it is precisely this anonymous power that crucified Jesus, for it was anonymous voices that cried, 'Away with him! Crucify him!'"

- Pope Benedict XVI

April 20, 2011 Magnficat

I forgot to post an explanation of Spy Wednesday. Here it is

Happy Birthday Dear Mother Angelica!!

You can go to EWTN to offer a prayer for the spiritual bouquet if you'd like I think Mother would really appreciate our prayers for her.

Mass was offered this morning at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Honolulu for her birthday intentions.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Special Announcement - Divine Mercy Novena

I just received the following email from John-Paul who recently organized the novena for Pope Benedict XVI's birthday:

I can't wait to tell you about this exciting prayer intention for the Divine Mercy Novena!

This Friday is both Good Friday AND the first day of the Divine Mercy Novena! 

I hope you're as excited as I am about praying this Novena! Not only is it Divine Mercy, but we have a special intention too!

Click here to see what our special Divine Mercy Novena Intention will be!

You and I are going to be praying with over 2,400 people in the PrayMoreNovenas community and with a multitude of people around the world!

I'm looking forward to it. Are you?

God bless you!


P.S. Not only is it a very important and powerful novena that was given to St. Faustina by Jesus, but we also have a very special intention to go along with this novena! Click here to see what it is!


*Join the PrayMoreNovenas Facebook Page*

Father Don Calloway on Harry Potter, Means and Ends

Thank you Ed.

"Reading Harry Potter is not going to make your children saints..." - Fr. Donald Calloway

Happy Anniversary to Our Holy Father

This is the 6th anniversary of his becoming Pope Benedict XVI.

New book takes a look at the messages left at the tomb of John Paul II

The Declaration of Independence and the Arizona Memorial

Today KITV reported that an original copy of the Declaration of Indepence was making a brief visit to Hawaii.

As providence would have it, my son's class was cancelled today. So as soon as he returned home, we hightailed it over to the Arizona Memorial. We actually said a Hail Mary that we:  1. would find parking 2. it wouldn't be so crowded. Usually, the Arizona Memorial gets many visitors, mostly tourist on a daily basis.

Our prayers were answered. When we arrived we were the only ones to view this piece of American History and even had the assigned guards tell talk to us a bit. It was awesome to see this document so close.  I also felt like touching it like I would a relic of a saint!

Here are some photos:

My son and I were amazed on how much the visitor center had changed since we were last there.  It was so spacious and well-planned. We no longer got the feeling of being herded like cattle until it was our turn to get on the ferry.

The Arizona Memorial

Monday, April 18, 2011

the Vatican Invites You to Share the News of the Beatification of Pope John Paul II

Beloved in Christ,

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications has announced an initiative for Catholics to become “digital sentinels” to help to “bring in the ‘digital world’ the figure and words” of Pope John Paul II on the occasion of his beatification.

From Fr. Paolo Padrini of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications:
Lisa Graas has morehere

Sixth anniversary of Benedict XVI's election: The white smoke and his fi...

Pope John Paul II - October 22 Will Be the Feast Day

The following is from Robert Moynihan of Inside the Vatican Magazine Reprinted with permission.

October 22 will be the Feast Day of Blessed Pope John Paul II.

The Holy See made the announcement yesterday.

October 22 in 1978 was the day Pope John Paul II was installed as Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter, and head of the Universal Church (he had been elected six days earlier, on October 16).

Some of you have been writing to ask when the Feast Day will be, so that's the answer.

At the same time, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, published the opening prayer for the feast day Mass. The prayer — called a “collect” — was written in Latin and translated into several languages, including English:

O God, who are rich in mercy
and who willed that the Blessed John Paul II
should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the sole Redeemer of mankind.
Who lives and reigns...

Now for some, John Paul II remains controversial.

There is even a petition being promoted by a group of Catholics who contend that John Paul should not be beatified on May 1. They argue that, though he was stalwart and heroic in some ways -- particularly in defense of human life in time in the West that (astonishingly) embraced legalized abortion as if it were a matter of no moral concern whatsoever -- he was weak and ineffective in others: too ecumenical (the Assisi prayer meeting in 1986, cited as an occasion when he allowed the Church to be drawn in to a type of religious syncretism which would have shocked many Catholic saints and theologians of past centuries -- and did shock Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the time) and too ineffective in handling problems like the sexual abuse crisis.

What are we to make of these concerns?

No one can deny that the Church has suffered in profound ways in these years, that she has been, in fact, repeatedly betrayed, through the human weaknesses and sins of many of her leaders, and members, in what they have done, and in what they have failed to do.

But I keep receiving messages and emails from people who were inspired by John Paul II, and who loved him. I just received one today: "Just wanted to share this with you... Pope John Paul II's appeal truly continues to go beyond the grave... It really brings a tear to the eye!" (Muriel Nathan)

I do not wish to enter here into any extended discussion of John Paul's life and pontificate. But it may be worth asking one simple question: Why has Pope Benedict decided to beatify John Paul, so soon, and knowing the concerns raised by some of his critics?

The question is not improper. It is being asked even in Rome.

The answer that is being given is that John Paul is being beatified, not because of his administration or leadership of the Church, but because of his personal holiness.

In a phrase, because, in his holiness, he was, and is, "an image of Christ."

And bringing people to Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the World, by every means possible is the essence of being a saint.

This is how Cardinal Angelo Amato, the head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome -- the dicastery which oversees all beatification and canonization causes -- explained it recently to Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service.

Amato told Wooden that "beatification and canonization are not recognitions of someone's superior understanding of theology, nor of the great works he or she accomplished," Wooden wrote April 1. "Declaring someone a saint, the Church attests to the fact that he or she lived the Christian virtues in a truly extraordinary way and is a model to be imitated by others, the cardinal said. The candidate, he said, must be perceived 'as an image of Christ.'"

(Here is a link to the complete article:

But then we might ask: what way did John Paul make clear this holiness?

And we might answer: through his prayer.

In other ways as well, but especially through his prayer.

Just as Jesus prayed, long and often and alone, so too did John Paul pray long, and often, and alone...

John Paul prayed with a fervor and a love of God which may be edifying even to those who feel he made errors of judgment in leading the Church.

In this context, I publish here a little article by Angela Ambrogetti, an Italian journalist who lives and works in Rome and writes for us at Inside the Vatican.

It is an article where an Italian cardinal, Cardinal Giovanni Coppa, reveals what he saw once when he opened a chapel door where John Paul was praying alone -- and more importantly, what he heard.

He heard John Paul singing.

In front of the Eucharist.

In praise of Christ and in thanksgiving for Christ.

(The article appears in our April "Special Issue" on Pope John Paul II's beatification, which just came out. This 96-page double issue, is a "Commemorative Issue" and for those of you who don't subscribe to the magazine, it might be an issue you would like to order and keep. In fact, why not consider taking out a year's subscription, and you can have this issue as a free gift! I'll start your subscription with this issue, and not charge you for it. I don't need to tell you, in this day and age, that printing and publishing a magazine can be a rough business, so I do hope some of you might consider supporting us by taking out a subscription -- it only come to about nine cents (!) a day over the course of a year, yet it is critical to our survival that we have subscribers...)

We might conclude by saying: people saw how John Paul prayed. They saw it, and were moved by it.

I myself saw it. I remember once kneeling not far from him as he prepared to pray the Rosary, and he didn't start for almost 30 minutes, and during those 30 minutes I myself felt "drawn in" to John Paul's mystical contemplation of human and divine things, from the mystery of iniquity to the even greater mystery of salvation, which is the heart of our faith.

—Robert Moynihan


Cardinal Giovanni Coppa

The Pope Never Stopped Praying

By Angela Ambrogetti

Not many people know that John Paul II wrote on top of each page of text he wrote, the words of the prayer he also chose as his motto: Totus Tuus ("Entirely Thine", meaning he was given over entirely to the love and protection of the Virginb Mary).

The words are from the great French saint and mystic, St. Louis Marie de Montfort Gringnon. This was recently revealed by Cardinal Giovanni Coppa, papal nuncio in Prague for years and friend of John Paul II.

The occasion was a meeting in Rome for the presentation of a DVD with three video clips of unreleased songs devoted to Karol Wojtyla from the tenor and author Joseph Raphael Bossio. In the video there are some rare images from the 1960s of the Polish Pope retrieved by Monsignor Jarek Cielecka, director of the Vatican Service News Agency.

The cardinal shared a few personal memories of the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1997 in the Czech Republic. Monsignor Coppa was the Papal Nuncio in the Slavic country.

“He had already come to Czechoslovakia in 1990,” the cardinal said, “stopping in Prague, Velehrad and Bratislava just after the Berlin Wall fell. On that occasion, President Havel gave that famous speech orchestrated with the words we all still remember: I do not know what a miracle is, but if miracles exist, the coming of the Pope today is certainly one.

“In 1995, John Paul II came for the second time, stopping in Prague, Bohemia and Olomouc in Moravia for the canonization of two Czech saints. But he also wanted to cross the border to neighboring Poland, where he stopped to pray at the tomb of his brother, a physician.

“And in 1997 he came again to Prague and Hradec Kralove, where he celebrated World Youth Day. The Pope was already suffering physically and beginning to use a cane, and to joke about it with young people, who were always eager to rally around him, but was still in good form, and continued to use the stairs without using the lift.

“The first night after the arrival and dinner with the bishops, he stopped in the chapel in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The nuns had prepared for him a big kneeler, but he preferred to pray in the back. I waited for him outside the chapel. The next night I was detained by urgent phone calls and commitments and could not accompany him to the Chapel. I arrived later, when he was already kneeling.

“Before entering, I heard a faint music, but when I opened the door quietly I heard that kneeling on the bench, he sang softly in front of the tabernacle. The Pope sang softly in front of Jesus in the Eucharist. The Pope and Christ in the Host! Peter and Christ. It was a very moving thing for me, a very strong call to faith and love, to the Eucharist and the reality of the Petrine ministry. I have never forgotten his faint song, which was like a meeting of love between Christ, the invisible Head of the Church, and the Pope who is its visible head.

“I have told this episode only once in the Czech Republic. Today I want to do it for his beatification, because it tells in a magnificent way that we must have a lively, intimate and profound relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist. It shows in a superlative way that the source of coherence, energy, enthusiasm and a natural depth of Pope John Paul II was his relationship to God through prayer, his ongoing encounter with God, being in love with Christ and feeling loved by him.”

Cardinal Coppa also recalled how the Slavic peoples loved the Pope who came from the East. The Church emerged from the catacombs and society, after the fall of communism, had to be reborn, the cardinal said.

“President Havel told me twice that John Paul II had played a key role in the fall of communism. Certainly, he said, there were also other reasons for the victory of freedom over communism, but without the Pope, the result would not have been so sudden and unexpected. Havel and Pope met in an informal and friendly way. Each one spoke his own language and they understood each other perfectly.

“What attracted the sympathies of all to Pope John Paul II, was the fact that he was the first Slavic Pope in history. During his visit he was always surrounded by a sea of people. The people who for 40 years had been transformed by the Bolshevik propaganda against religion, began to understand what was the Church, a mystery of communion and brotherhood, which would bring men together through faith in God and love of Christ, denied for so long time.”

April 2011, Inside the Vatican magazine

Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR - Becoming the Eucharist

How the Easter Date is Determined and the Easter Vigil

The following two articles are by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M. Used with Permission.


Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

People often puzzle over the different dates on which Easter is celebrated. The different dates are determined by the different calendars used for reckoning Easter.

Biblical Background

In the Old Testament, the Jews celebrated the feast of Passover, or Pasch, in remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt. The Book of Exodus, chapter 12, tells the story.

Thereafter the celebration of Passover was begun on the fourteenth day of Nisan (Abib), the Paschal full moon following the spring equinox (Leviticus 23:5-8; Deuteronomy 16:1-8). Spring equinox is when day and night are equal.
The Jewish calendar, however, since it was a lunar calendar consisting of twelve or thirteenth months per year, caused difficulties in determining the day of the spring equinox. Consequently, Passover celebrations would begin on the full moon of either March or April of the Julian calendar.

The Gospel of St. John explicitly states that the death of Jesus coincided with the Paschal celebrations of the Jewish people (John 13:1; 19:31).

Early Christian History

The Christians in Asia Minor, Caesarea, Syria, and Mesopotamia observed Easter on the first day of the Jewish Passover. But the Christians in Rome and Egypt celebrated Easter on the Sunday after the Jewish Passover.
Pope St. Anicetus (155-166) supported the celebration of Easter on the Sunday after the Jewish Pasch. Pope St. Victor (189-198) upheld this practice.
Controversy ensued, and Pope St. Sylvester I resolved the matter at the first ecumenical council at Nicaea, Asia Minor, in 325. The general council decreed that Easter be celebrated on the first Sunday following the Paschal full moon after the spring equinox.

The Julian Calendar 

From that time for 1,247 years Easter was celebrated on the same Sunday in the entire Christian Church -- East and West. According to the Julian calendar, March 21 was considered the day of the spring equinox in the Roman Empire.
Eventually the inaccuracies of the Julian calendar witnessed Christians in the sixteenth century celebrating Easter on different Sundays.

In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar had originated the Julian calendar. The astronomers of his time calculated the solar year to have 365 days and six hours. Every fourth year became a leap year with 366 days. This was remarkably close, but each year was too long by 11 minutes and 14 seconds. This small difference accumulated to one day in 128 years. In addition the astronomers figured that the moon cycle of 19 years was exact, that is, that the full moon returned to the identical day and hour after 19 years. However, the cycle was too long by one hour and 29 minutes. This difference amounted to one day in 308 years. By the sixteenth century astronomers were alarmed that the Julian calendar was out of congruence with the seasons of the years by ten days, and with the cycles of the moon by four days.

The Gregorian Calendar 

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII asked the leading astronomers to correct these inaccuracies, and he proclaimed some changes in the Julian calendar. Regarding the solar year ten days were dropped from the calendar, and that year October 5 became October 15. In the future three leap years would be omitted every 400 years. To rectify the moon cycle the calendar full moon was drawn back four days. In the future the calendar full moons were to be drawn back one day eight times in 25 centuries. With these reforms the Julian calendar was brought very close to the astronomical solar year and the astronomical moon cycle.

The Gregorian calendar took its name from Pope Gregory XIII, who proclaimed it to the world.
The Catholic countries of Europe quickly accepted the new Gregorian calendar: Italy, France, Poland, Spain, and Portugal. The Protestant countries --
Germany, England (including North America), Denmark, Sweden, Norway -- adopted it about 200 years later. The non-Christian countries of Japan, China, Siam (Thailand), Turkey, Egypt, etc., accepted it about 350 years later. The Orthodox countries -- Greece, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, and the patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria -- adopted it in the twentieth century in civil and historic matters only. They still observe religious feasts (Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, etc.) according to the Julian calendar. This divergence can place the celebrations of Easter as much as five weeks apart.
In determining the date of Easter the discrepancy between the Julian and Gregorian calendars grows each year.


Easter was very early in 2008 on March 23. Actually it can be one day earlier, March 22; but that rarely happens. That was the earliest Easter we will experience in our lifetime.

The next time Easter will be this early, March 23, will be in 2228. The last time it was this early was 1913.
The next time Easter falls on March 22, will be in 2285. The last time it was celebrated on March 22 was in 1818.

But what is really important is that Christ is risen. He is truly risen.


Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

Knowing more about the Easter Vigil helps us to understand it, appreciate it, and live the Paschal Mystery on a deeper level.


From the outset the Easter Vigil, originally and more appropriately called the Paschal Vigil, has been celebrated at night. In the beginning it was a very plain ceremony – an assembly that ended with the breaking of the bread and an agape. One or more days of fasting preceded the Easter Vigil.

Later, as the Easter vigil developed in Rome and in places where the Roman rite was followed, this tradition added a baptismal rite, the ceremony of the lucernarium, blessing of the new fire, and a candlelight procession.

As it developed the Easter Vigil became more and more meaningful and focused. From the very first the celebration took place at night like the weekly Eucharist, because most of the faithful could not assemble during the day.
The evangelists already situated the discovery of the tomb “as the first day of the week was dawning” (Mt 28:1), very early” (Mk 16:2; Jn 20:1), “at dawn” (Lk 24:1). The thrust is that Jesus is the “light of the world” that came into the world as a “revelation to the Gentiles” (Lk 2:32).

Significance of the ceremony

In baptism the believer passes from death to life (Col 2:12). Ritually and really the neophyte, the newly baptized person, is plunged with Christ into death so as to come to new life with the one who “was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father” (Rom 6:4). For this reason baptism is called “illumination” (in Biblical Greek, photismos) and the baptized, “illuminated.” Light is the dominant theme.
In our day, thanks to electricity, we can have as much light as we want whenever we want it. This was not the case in the past, when lighting the lamps in the evening was a rite. This was generally a happy occasion, when many lamps were lit as for a banquet at the beginning of the Sabbath on a Friday evening. Christians understood that this light which drives away the darkness is a symbol of the Christ-light.

The procession led by the Paschal Candle represents the journey of God’s people no longer led by a bright cloud but by the glorious light that shines on every person coming into the world(Jn 1:9). This rite is most solemn in the context of the great night illuminated by the resurrected Christ. This is eloquently explained in the solemn proclamation of the Lord’s resurrection that we now call the Exsultet.

Because all lights were extinguished on Holy Thursday evening, it is necessary to light a new flame in order to celebrate a liturgy at night. And so the ritual developed: the blessing of a new fire and the procession into the church led by the Paschal Candle as the celebrant intoned “Light of Christ!” and the faithful responded “Thanks be to God!”

Recession, then development

Over the centuries this celebration underwent some problems and waned in significance. As late as the thirteenth century the liturgy was still not entirely structured. Since the seventh century there had been a general decline, and this event was celebrated early in the day on Holy Saturday. When Pope St. Pius V reformed the Missal in the sixteenth century following the Council of Trent, he forbade the celebration of the Eucharist after midday. Consequently on Holy Saturday morning in churches brightened with sunlight and a barely perceptible flame on the Easter Candle, the celebrant sang, “O night truly blessed!” In addition very few people were able to attend this long liturgy on Holy Saturday morning. This added to its diminished appreciation.

The Biblical, patristic, theological, and liturgical renewal that began to swell in the 1920s indicated the unacceptability of this condition and the impoverishment of the Easter celebration. In 1951 Pope Pius XII authorized the celebration of the Easter vigil during the evening hours of Holy Saturday, and revised the rites to foster greater congregational participation. Then in 1955 he decreed that the Easter Vigil must take place at night. In our day we follow the “Missal of Pope Paul VI” promulgated in 1969 following the Second Vatican Council.
Today the Easter vigil has four parts: 1) the blessing of the fire, procession of the Easter Candle, and the chanting of the Exultet; 2) the Liturgy of the Word; 3) the baptismal liturgy, which includes at least the blessing of the water and the renewal of baptismal vows; 4) culminates in the Eucharistic liturgy.
This solemn celebration of the Lord’s resurrection is the zenith of the liturgical year, “the solemnity of solemnities.”

The challenge
While the spoken word is very important in the liturgy, we are called to be more alert to the symbolism, both in things and in actions. We are asked to approach with a receptive attitude, ready to be engaged in a way that appeals both to the mind and to the heart, to one’s whole being. We are invited to look attentively on the realities present in signs that cannot be fully captured in words. This is how we are called to participate fully in the Easter Vigil.
The Easter Vigil invites us to action -- to go forth and reflect the light of the resurrected Christ to the world around us.