Easter Vigil, also called the Great Vigil of Easter or the Paschal Vigil, is a service held in traditional Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Many Christians observe Easter Sunday a little differently than Catholics do. For lots of churches, the peak celebration is Easter Sunday, maybe even a service at sunrise.
The Great Vigil of Easter, when observed, is the first service of Easter. It is celebrated at a convenient time between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Morning.
The Easter Vigil liturgy is the most beautiful liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church. This walks through the Easter Vigil, and includes the words to the Exsultet.
Although celebrated Holy Saturday evening, it is the dramatic Easter vigil liturgy that marks the beginning of Easter. We are awaiting our master’s return with our lamps full and burning, so that he will find us awake and seat us at his table (cf. Luke 12:35ff). All Catholics should try to attend this beautiful service. The vigil is divided into four parts:
- Service of Light,
- Liturgy of the Word,
- Liturgy of Baptism, and
- Liturgy of the Eucharist.
We have been preparing for Easter through forty days of Lent, culminating in the Easter Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil of Easter on Saturday night. All that waiting and preparation peaks when we gather on Saturday night for a solemn vigil.
[youtube HBD7iRK6oxQ 650]
In the Catholic Church, Holy Saturday, or the Saturday of Holy Week, is the final day of the Lent and the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Holy Saturday is the final day of the Triduum, the three days during which we commemorate Christ’s Passion.
It is the day when Jesus lay in his tomb after his death, according to Christian belief.
Holy Saturday (from Sabbatum Sanctum, its official liturgical name) is sacred as the day of the Lord’s rest; it has been called the “Second Sabbath” after creation. The day is and should be the most calm and quiet day of the entire Church year, a day broken by no liturgical function.
On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. The altar is left bare, and the sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Only after the solemn vigil during the night, held in anticipation of the resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin, with a spirit of joy that overflows into the following period of fifty days.
Candles that are lit during Holy Saturday church liturgies symbolize Jesus Christ’s victory over death, as well as the Christian belief in his resurrection. It can also mean spiritual hope and victory.
Activities on Holy Saturday:
- Today we remember Christ in the tomb. It is not Easter yet, so it’s not time for celebration. The day is usually spent working on the final preparations for the biggest feast of the Church year. The list of suggested activities is long, but highlights are decorating Easter eggs and attending a special Easter food blessing.
- For families with smaller children, you could create a miniature Easter garden, with a tomb. The figure of the risen Christ will be placed in the garden on Easter morning.
- Another activity for families is creation of a paschal candle to use at home. [youtube SuW5l0Nn4Ic 650]
Easter’s Holy Fire ceremony has been celebrated at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The Holy Fire is considered a miracle occurring every year on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday.
Orthodox worshippers say the flame appears from Jesus’ tomb inside the church to show He has not forgotten his followers.
Thousands of Christian Orthodox pilgrims have celebrated Easter’s Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
The ancient church is believed to be built on the site of his crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
In keeping with tradition, Church of the Holy Sepulchre was unlocked by a Muslim family which has held the keys for centuries.
Meanwhile in Rome, Pope Francis called on Catholics to spread the message of God “to the very ends of the Earth”.
Pope Francis called on Catholics to recover “the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people”.
The pontiff was addressing followers at an Easter vigil Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Saturday.
The Catholic Church’s main Easter Mass will be celebrated on Easter Sunday, the holiest day in the church’s calendar.
[youtube 2UjqSsJxjMg 650]
[youtube hJzI0B5lyCU 650]