The Easter Vigil

The greatest and most noble of all Solemnities, celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley.

Beginning outside of the Crypt at St Chad’s Cathedral with the Blessing of the Fire and Preparation of the Paschal Candle. 

A procession into the cathedral with lighted candles for the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet). 

The Easter Vigil consists of four parts: The Service of Light, The Liturgy of the Word, The Blessing of Water (includes the Renewal of Baptismal Promises / The Rite of Reception / The Rite of Confirmation), The Liturgy of the Eucharist.

In the Liturgy of the Word, Holy Church meditates on the wonders the Lord God has done for his people from the beginning. 

In the Baptismal Liturgy we welcome new members into the Church; and with the Renewal of our Baptismal Promises the Church is called to the table the Lord has prepared for his people, the memorial of his Death and Resurrection until he comes again.

In his Homily Archbishop Bernard said: You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here.

In this telling of the Easter story three women who have been close to Our Lord point the way to us.  On the day after his death, the Gospel of St Mark tells us, they waited until the sabbath was over before preparing the burial spices and then coming together to plan what they would do next.  They were pragmatic – asking who would move the stone for them to enter the tomb of Jesus.  

In common with all the Lord’s disciples they must have felt utterly defeated – devastated that the Master had been arrested at the dead of night, condemned with no-one to offer a word in his defence and executed like a criminal.  For the disciples who had built their lives and their hopes on the promises of Christ, his death on the cross must have shattered their trust and left them dazed and bewildered about what to do now.

This year the besieged people of Ukraine and of Gaza are also dazed and bewildered – so are the families in Israel who still hope for the return of their loved ones taken hostage.  They long for some signs of hope – for an end to conflict and suffering.

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