The Church As A SacEvery year, on the day before Easter, one of the biggest and most important masses of the year happens on that night. The mass is called the Easter Vigil. The Vigil brings out the true and full nature of the Catholic Church and all of its people. It celebrates Jesus Christ, as he rises from the dead and ascends into heaven. Since this mass is so large, it is split into four parts. The first, the Service of Light, and is the most solemn part of the mass the Church celebrates. The second part is the Liturgy of the Word, in which you listen to a reader who reads from the books of the Bible such as Genesis and Exodus. The third part of the celebration is known as the Celebration of the Rites of Initiation. At this point people become part of the Church and receive such sacraments as Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation. The fourth part of the vigil is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is the climax of the Easter Vigil. The Easter Vigil is the biggest mass in the Church and it requires four parts in the Service of Light, The Liturgy of the Word, the Celebration of the Rights of Initiation, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but also requires much more faith and concentration to fully appreciate it.
The first part of the Easter Vigil is the Service of Light. The Service of Light is the most solemn time during the Easter Vigil and where the people of the Catholic Church show the most respect. All the lights in the Church are turned off. The minister carries the paschal candle slowly into the Church. As the candle is shared with the rest of the congregation, the atmosphere is very dark and glum. As the minister brings the candle towards the altar, the following response is sung by the pastor and by everyone else in the Church. The Deacon or the Celebrant sings Christ our Light and everyone responds, Thanks be to God. This is done three times and after this the choir sings the Exultet. The focus on signing is of the risen Jesus Christ. After, the paschal candle reaches the altar; it is placed on a stand next to the lantern. This marks the ending of the first part of the Easter Vigil, the Service of light.
The second part of the Easter Vigil is the Liturgy of the Word. The first reading was from Genesis 1. The second reading was from the Book of Exodus, the fourteenth chapter. After the reading from Exodus 14, the reading that followed was from Ezekial 36 and was the third reading. The fourth and final reading was from Romans 6. When I heard the reading from Romans 6, I got a special feeling inside of me. The specific quote that got my attention was Are you unaware that we who were baptized into his death. This tells us that we were truly ignorant to the fact that we were baptized into his death. It showed that Jesus really did live in our everyday lives. I found that God is all mighty and has a set path for all of us to follow, even Jesus, whom we represent. He created Jesus and us and loves us so much he decided to take away his only son. We should really appreciate what God and Jesus have done for us. This quote has a deeper meaning that all of us should learn.
After the Liturgy of the Word, the third part of the mass started called the Celebration of the Rights of Initiation. The class had studied about the acceptances of early Christians into the Church, and at the Easter Vigil, there were many similarities and a few differences. This is the part of the mass where new Christians are accepted into the Church. The people who were entering the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil went through months of dedication and work to get where they are at that point. With Pauls conversions, all that was needed was your word and you were a welcomed addition to the Church. Though they differ at those points, they are alike also. It compares in that the people being initiated are accepted fully into the Church and the Church embraces them with open arms.
One thing I did not realize about the candidates was that they were not yet part of the Catholic Church and that there was a period of separation. Between the time they entered the Church and the time they were either baptized or confirmed. The separation was between them and the Catholic Church. During this period, they were leaving their old ways and starting their life with the Catholic Church. The transition took place when the priest blessed them with either the oil or the water. The transition was from being an outsider and non-Catholic to a Catholic. Right after their baptism of confirmation, they were incorporated into the Church. The catechumens were greeted into the Church with a round of applause, and now they could fully take part in the mass. The rest of the congregation then renews to their baptismal promises to be involved. There were many confirmations and baptisms that night. The Celebration of the Rites of Ignition is one of the most important parts of the Easter Vigil.
The fourth and final part of the Easter Vigil is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This part of the mass begins with the preparation of the gifts. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is considered to be the pinnacle of the night. Everyone shows their fellowship for each other in the eating and drinking of Christs blood and flesh. After, there is a time of meditation where everyone prays together. This is the best time of the night because you have fully learned about Jesus and what he has done for us.
In going to the Easter Vigil this year, I learned many new things about the Catholic Church. I learned that we should really appreciate what God and Jesus have done for us and that the candidates was that they were not yet part of the Catholic Church and that there was a period of separation This Vigil was my first and certainly not my last. While I was there, I felt a strong sense of community and pride. It made me feel really good.