Probably no service in the Liturgical calendar is more beautiful and meaningful than the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening. Albeit long, Holy Mother Church
gathers her children together for this special service to not only celebrate the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but also the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
The fire is struck outside of the main church in order to melt the wax to place in the new Paschal Candle. The faithful gather to participate in this opening ceremony where the priest recites special prayers as he carefully inserts the each of the assigned wax plugs into the Paschal Candle representing the Alpha and Omega - (Always was, and always will be) and as the main candle that will ignite the rest for the light of the world.
The Night-watch of the Resurrection has begun with the Church totally dark to symbolize the tomb. One candle is lit - the Paschal Candle which will be lit for every Mass until Pentecost Sunday. The Blessing of the New Fire is accompanied by the Blessing of the Paschal Candle in reaffirming Christ as the "light of the world." This is followed by the Processon and Exultet. Then the light from that Candle is passed to the individual candles the congregation hold and from pew to pew light filters into the Church as the procession begins three times the celebrant chanting "Lumen Christi"- "Light of Christ" to which all answer "Deo Gratias."
Once the celebrant, in purple vestments, reaches the altar the deacon places the Paschal Candle in its permanent holder and the Easter Proclamation begins. Then follow the lengthy seven to twelve readings or Lesson from the Prophecies and seven to twelve accompanying responsorial psalms or readings, performed by the priest and deacons. These lessons are all from the Old Testament to symbolize the lengthy time those who were loyal to the Old Covenant spent in the "Bosom of Abraham" before being released to Heaven by Christ's Death. It was during the three days in the tomb that Christ "descended into hell" to call all God's faithful ones - from Adam and Eve to the day Christ died, including the good thief Dismas - into Heavenly bliss.
We then move into the New Covenant with the blessing of the holy Water and chrism oils followed by Baptism if there are eligible catechumens for now the can be fully accepted into the Mystical Body of Christ's One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The deacon incants the Litany of Saints to unite us in the Communion of Saints as we, the Church Militant join the Church Suffering in Purgatory and the Church Triumphant in Heaven to profess our faith, hope and love in the Trinity and Christ's victory over death. The entire congregation then join the newly baptized in Renewal of their Baptismal Promises by first renouncing their sins, then a Profession of Faith and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises by all holding their lit candles. The priest then sprinkles all with Holy Water from the asperges. The last part of the Litany of the Saints is then recited as the vestments are changed to white and the Altar is prepared with lights and flowers.
As the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass begins the newly Baptized, for the first time are no longer catechumens, but now able to partake of this beautiful Liturgy and the entire Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We have completed our designated 40 days and 40 nights of penance and self-mortification in improving the state of our souls; depending on how each dedicated himself to his Lenten fast and sacrifices, how much greater and with so much more joy will he rejoice as the choir prepares to sing out in response to the priest's Gloria in excelsis Deo. The bells rings out, the purple shrouds are lifted, incense fills the air, and we can once again say with great joy and conviction of heart: "Alleluia!" for we have reached the hour of the Resurrection.