Sunday, April 8, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath #17

Alleluia!  Happy Easter!  I hope you had a great day celebrating our Lord's Resurrection!

I attended our church's Vigil Mass last night.  I love Easter Vigil.  If I have anything to say about it, I plan to go to one every year for the rest of my life.  The church starts dark, quiet, and empty.  It is slowly lit by candles.  The church becomes bright, the altar is dressed, flowers are brought in.  Bells and incense bring all of our senses into worship.  Then the singing begins.  Oh, the singing, and the chanting, and the responses.  It is so powerful.  I love singing the Alleluia again after 40 days of waiting.  I love hearing the story of salvation history through the reading from the Old and New Testament.  I love being inspired by the message of the homily (my pastor's was great, btw.) I love witnessing the desire of adults who come to be baptized, and renewing my baptismal promises right along with them.  I love watching the eager anticipation of the catechumens desiring full initiation into the Church through Confirmation.  I love it all.

Instead of the seven usual parts of my Keeping the Sabbath post, you get a song and the text below.  This is the beginning of the very long Easter Proclamation chanted just after we fill the church with candle light.  The line that struck me over and over last night was "This is the night." We start the Easter vigil with a dark, silent church reminiscent of the the first Easter vigil.  Closed tomb, body inside, silent waiting.  We end the Easter Vigil celebrating the "dawn" bringing with it an empty tomb and abundant hope.  "This is the night" reminds me of the four questions asked at a Jewish Seder meal- What makes this night different from all other nights?
This night is different.  This night showed us the power of our Savior.  This night was the fulfillment of all God's promises.  This night is the manifestation of our faith.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin
to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.
This is the night when the pillar of fire
destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin
and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night when Jesus Christ
broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.
What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave
you gave away your Son.

Happy Easter! 

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