LITURGY FOR THE DAY: HOLY SATURDAY April 11, 1998


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HOLY SATURDAY, April 11, 1998

THE SIGNIFICANCE AND BEAUTY OF THE EASTER VIGIL

     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 Night-watch of the Resurrection begins with the Church totally dark to symbolize the tomb. One candle is lit - the Easter or Paschal Candle which will be lit for every Mass until Pentecost Sunday. 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" or, in the vernacular now, "Light of Christ" to which all answer "Thanks be to God" or "Deo Gratias" in the Latin service.

      Once the celebrant reaches the altar the deacon places the Paschal Candle in its permanent holder and the Easter Proclamation begins. Following is the lengthy seven readings and seven accompanying responsorial psalms or readings, all from the Old Testament to symbolize the lengthy time those who were loyal to the Old Covenant spent in Limbo before being released to Heaven by Christ's Death. It was during the three days in the tomb that Christ "descended to the dead" to call all God's faithful ones from Adam and Eve to the day Christ died into Heavenly bliss.

      We then move into the New Covenant with the Epistle and Gospel Readings followed by Liturgy of Baptism where candidates who have been undergoing the catechumen program are now fully accepted into the Body of Christ's One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. First all recite 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. There is then the Blessing of Water and the candidates renounce their sins, make their profession of faith and then receive the Sacrament of Baptism with first the saving water, then the anointing with Chrism oil, clothed with the Baptismal garment and presented a lighted candle symbolic that they have been brought into the Light of Christ and rid of Original Sin. The entire congregation then join the newly baptized candidates in Renewal of their Baptismal Promises by first renouncing their sins, then a Profession of Faith. The Celebrant then sprinkles all with Holy Water from the asperges. Now all the newly baptized candidates are fully received by the entire congregation at the beckoning of the Celebrant.

      Following the Liturgy of Baptism is the Celebration of Confirmation where the candidates for Confirmation are invited to come forth where either the Bishop or his appointed representative in the person of the Celebrant lays on hands and then annoints each with the Holy Chrism with the words, "Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. This concludes the special Easter Vigil liturgy as the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins and, for the first time the newly Baptized are able to partake of this beautiful Liturgy and the entire Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We now have but a few hours to wait until that glorious day - Easter Sunday and the Resurrection - the beginning of the rest of our lives...forever!