Holy  Saturday / Easter  Vigil

 

The   Easter   Vigil   Mass,   which   takes   place   after   sundown   on   Holy   Saturday,   properly   belongs   to Easter   Sunday,   since   liturgically,   each   day   begins   at   sundown   on   the   previous   day.   (That   is   why Saturday   vigil   Masses   can   fulfil   our   Sunday   Duty.)                                                                                                    

 

In  the early Church, Christians gathered on the afternoon of Holy Saturday to pray and to confer the Sacrament   of  Baptism on catechumens—converts to Christianity who had spent Lent preparing to be received into the Church. 

 

The vigil is divided into four parts:   

1) Service of Light,       2) Liturgy of the Word     3) Liturgy of Baptism,       4) Liturgy of the Eucharist

 

1) Service of Light

The   atmosphere   in   the   church   is different:   the holy   water   fonts   are   drained,    all   the   lights  

are out,   the   tabernacle   is   empty.   The service begins outside the church. A new fire is lit and blessed.

A   Paschal   Candle   is   prepared   with   these   words   while   the   priest   marks   the candle:

 

Christ   yesterday   and   today    (vertical arm of the cross)
the   Beginning   and   the   End   (horizontal arm of the cross)
the   Alpha (alpha above the cross)
and   the   Omega (omega below the cross)
All   time   belongs   to   him   (numeral 2 in upper left corner of cross)
and   all   the   ages    (numeral 1 in upper right corner of cross)
To   him   be   glory   and   power   (numeral 4 in lower left corner)
through   every   age   and   for   ever.     Amen    (numeral 0 in lower right corner)

 

Then   the   priest   may   insert   five   grains   of   incense   into   the   candle   in   the   form   of   a   cross, meanwhile saying:
 

1. By his holy
2. and glorious wounds,
3. may Christ the Lord
4. guard us
5. and protect us. Amen.

 

The   priest   lights   the   candle   from   the   new   fire,   saying:

 

May   the   light   of   Christ,   rising   in   glory,   dispel   the   darkness    of   our   hearts   and   minds.

 

The   candle   is   then   processed   through   the   church,   with   the   deacon   lifting   the   candle   at   three different   times,   singing:       The   Light   of   Christ.      (or   Lumen   Christi)   and   the    congregation   sings  in reply: Thanks be to God (or Deo gratias).

Everyone   lights   their   candle   from   the   Easter   candle   and continue in procession   until   the whole church is alight.   The    Paschal   candle    symbolizes    Christ,    the    Light    of   the   World.

 

2) Liturgy of the Word

 

During   the   Easter    Vigil,    nine    readings   are   provided:   seven   Old   Testament   and   two   New Testament.     Not   all are required to be read due to time constraints, but at least three Old Testament readings   must   be read,   including Exodus 14.   These readings   help   us meditate   on   the   wonderful  works   of   God   for   his   people   since   the   beginning   of   time.   The readings are:

 

  1. the story of creation, Gen 1:1-2; 2;

  2. Abraham and Isaac, Gen 22:1-18;

  3. Crossing of the Red Sea, Exodus 14:15–15:1;

  4. Isaiah 54:5-14;

  5. Isaiah 55:1-11;

  6. Baruch 3:9-15.32–4:4;

  7. Ezekiel 36:16-17.18-28;

  8. Romans 6:3-11; and

  9. Gospel reading Mark 16:1-7.

 

3) Liturgy of Baptism

 

During   this   time   the   Easter   water is blessed, new   members   are brought into the Church through   baptism,   and   confirmation   and   part   of the   liturgy includes the Litany of the Saints.   Afterwards   the faithful   are   blessed   with water   and   all   renew   their   baptismal   promises.

 

4) Liturgy of Eucharist

The   Mass   continues,   with   the   special   prayers   inserted   during   the   Eucharist Prayer.   The  whole church   is   called   to   join at the sacrificial table that Christ prepared for us through his death and resurrection.

 

The Mass ends with  

V. The Mass   is   ended,    go   in   peace,   alleluia,   alleluia.

R. Thanks   be   to   God,   alleluia,   alleluia.

 

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