Saturday, March 30, 2024

Easter Vigil: Jesus Lights Up A Dark World

Today is Holy Saturday and the Catholic Church has its Liturgy of Light.  You can read more about the liturgy here in this older post.

The Easter Vigil, also known as the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter, is a significant liturgy held in traditional Christian churches to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. It takes place during the hours of darkness between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Day. This solemn and beautiful Mass is considered the most sacred in the liturgical year.

During the Easter Vigil, people are baptized, and adult catechumens are received into full communion with the Church. It’s a time of joy, hope, and anticipation as we await the glorious resurrection.

Here’s a glimpse of what the Easter Vigil entails:

  • Blessing of the Easter Fire: An Easter fire is kindled, symbolizing the light of Christ breaking through the darkness.
  • Liturgical Readings: The vigil includes readings from the Old Testament, tracing salvation history from creation to the promise of the New Covenant.
  • Renewal of Baptismal Promises: The congregation renews their baptismal vows, reaffirming their commitment to Christ.
  • First Use of “Alleluia”: After abstaining from saying “Alleluia” during Lent, the Easter Vigil marks its triumphant return. The sound of bells is restored.
  • Eucharistic Celebration: The liturgy culminates in the celebration of the Eucharist, commemorating Christ’s sacrifice and victory over death.

The Easter Vigil with its Liturgy is supposed to reflect the Light of Christ bringing life to the Church. Jesus died on Good Friday and rose on Easter Sunday.  If you recall the events of Holy Thursday, after the Mass the altar clothes, candles, and crucifixes are removed.  On Good Friday, we walk into a barren church building.  It looks like a condemned building ready to be demolished.  

Without Christ, the Church is a desolate dark place without any meaning or purpose.  It is a barren wasteland with missing crucifixes, an open tabernacle with no one inside, an extinguished Sanctuary Lamp, and an undressed altar.  These aesthetics were mystically reflected greatly in the Church during the Covid-19 Coronavirus lockdown with empty pews. The Church was dark. The people were gone. Many are still gone today. Mass attendance has dropped further. 

Where are they?  Where is the faith?  The Lent and Holy Week during the lockdown is one to remember. The whole globe was forced to give many things up.  It was no longer a simple choice of abstaining from meat or chocolate or fasting.  Everyone was forced to change their habits.  Everyone was being reminded that we are indeed dust and to dust, we shall return. Covid-19 Coronavirus has led to many deaths due to complications. 

While the flu kills more, this virus seems to be more aggressive. This along with the media distortions and aloof tone of the government had forced many to panic.  No one knew what to believe. On one side you have those masking up and taking precautions and on another, we had people who thought it was all a joke and did the opposite. Then we have someone who exaggerated the precautions instigating conflicts with others just for not wearing a mask or for standing too close to them as well as those who intentionally coughed near people wearing masks or got too close to them on purpose.  On the religious side, some demanded that churches be closed and services shut down while others said there was no reason to do this.  Then there was the debate of whether to receive Communion on the Hand by force or not.  It was mayhem.

Science failed. The government failed. Even religion failed. No one knew what to do.  Medical professionals and government officials were playing a guessing game. Each day they gave contradictory information.  Then vaccines were injected into people without being thoroughly vetted.  Some only had protection up to 6 months as new variants of the virus mutated.  It was just madness what was going on.  The bishops and many others fell into the frenzy as well without ever questioning.

They blindly accepted conclusions that were not based on accurate science. Catholics have demonstrated that they are susceptible to the Milgram experiment where people blindly followed orders to shock another person simply because someone in authority told them to. Their morals, objectivity, and reasons seemed to have vanished.  This is true darkness.  The Church is indeed dark today.  The closing of parishes and suspension of Masses without strong evidence to do this is disturbing. There is no record in the history of contagion spreading via Communion or the Mass. None at all. Despite this, our bishops blindly followed commands from officials.  Even atheists who are fond of the "separation of Church and State" have gone deaf and blind as the State interferes with the Church.  What was going on? Was this the ushering in of the antichrist or the warning of Garabandal?  We cannot know for certain. However, there is indeed something on the cosmic spiritual level going on.  It made no sense to close churches while allowing liquor stores, abortion clinics, and supermarkets to remain open. 

In many areas, the latter attracts more people than Mass!  Yet, the Mass was deemed as not essential and a conduit for disease to spread.   Moreover, we see so many strange things happening in the Church. The push to normalize so-called same-sex unions as equal to that of a male and female union. The pushing of abortion, and birth control over education and healthcare.  The insistence that all adopt the nonsensical ideas of "gender ideology."  The push to limit the criminal justice system in favor of criminals. I can go on and on, but you see the same thing in the world and in your area. The world keeps getting stranger and darker.  By world, I mean societies with their social constructs and systems.  

The Easter Vigil reminds us that without Christ, the Church and the world are nothing.  Christ is the light of the world.  Covid-19 has reminded the man that he is not in charge.  Science is not in charge, government is not in charge.  Not even religion is in charge.  We need Jesus.  We need the light.  The Easter Vigil demonstrates how the light of Christ brings life to the Church. 

The liturgy tonight begins with a dark church building.  The celebrant meets the people outside with a fire. He will bless this fire and prepare the Paschal or Easter candle.  The fire is then used to light the candles symbolizing the Light of Christ.

What is light?  
Physics tells us that it is electromagnetic radiation made up of photons that are detectable by the
human eye as well as the eyes of other organisms. It is composed of many wavelengths, not all of which are capable of being detected and processed by the human eye. The human eye can only detect the spectrum of wavelengths from about 650 nanometers where red is present and about 400 nanometers where violet is detected.

Light is the fastest substance in the universe traveling at 186,282 miles per second. Light presents us with spatial and temporal information about things around us. Matter in the universe absorbs and reflects light waves.  Depending on the charges of particles in an object, light is absorbed and some of it is reflected back allowing our eyes to see the object and its color(s) when the light enters the eye into the cones which process the information in the brain.  Nothing can travel faster or as fast as it. Despite this knowledge of light, we still do not truly understand it. However, light is extremely important for life to truly evolve and progress in nature.

In Scripture, light is mentioned many times.  As a matter of fact, it is first mentioned in the third verse of Genesis chapter 1. God says "Let there be light." Prior to this, the author describes existence as dark and desolate. Darkness is something most of us do not like. When we are in the dark, we get moody, depressed, and sleepy. Our energy drains from our bodies and we feel lethargic especially during wintertime when there is less light.  Psychologists call this "Seasonal Affective Disorder" or "Winter Blues."  This goes to show how powerful light and darkness are.  They affect us in many ways. As the weather warms in spring and we see more daylight, we get cheerful and have a "bounce in our step." Light livens everything up.

Darkness may seem powerful.  It engulfs everything. However, it blinds and creates dangerous scenarios. Despite this, light is so powerful that it stands out even in the darkest area. The stars in the sky shine brightly against the darkness of the universe. These stars are light years away and despite this, their light reaches our eyes here on Earth. The light from our own sun takes 8 minutes to reach us, yet it is powerful enough to warm our planet and illuminate the material that composes it.

The Paschal candle reminds us of light.  Christ is the light.  We all walked in darkness as Isaiah 9:2 says. As I stated before, darkness is dangerous. Without light, we get disoriented and our brain has a difficult time processing spatial information by using stored memories of an environment and sounds. Psychologists call this "Sensory Deprivation" or "Spatial Disorientation."  Most of us have lived in our homes for many years and know it well.  However, this familiarity changes when we try to walk in the dark. We will stumble on things or crash into a wall most of the time.  Our souls when they are in darkness stumble as well (John 11:10).  We do not know where we are at and walk about until we fall into sin.

In today's world full of atheistic existentialism and relativism, we are getting lost in strange philosophies that push God away in favor of man's formulations of morality and his social constructions.  This is the "new god" that is blinding many societies today into rejecting the reality of life in the womb and setting aside the natural complementary union between a man and woman for counterfeit unions (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Jesus, the Light of the World (John 9:5) came into the world to illuminate humanity (John 1:4) and it still rejects this light in preference of the darkness (John 3:19).  The human being is stubborn in this way.  Evil and sin always seem to be "fun" while good and holiness is the pastime of boring people or prudes.  This is the Concupiscence in us driving us to incline towards the bad (CCC 405).

The Easter Vigil reminds us of this.  The church building is dark. We are in the dark without Christ. Despite this immense darkness, the small flame from the Paschal Candles is enough to light the way as we enter the church building.  This small flame allows us to enter without stumbling.  As the people light their candles from the Paschal Candle, the light grows more intense and we begin to see each other's faces more.  The light of Christ restores the image of God in us.  The light we receive must not be hidden, nor should we fall back into darkness for we are children of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:5). 

We must go out into the dark world and illumine it just like each star illumines the night sky despite being small in appearance in contrast of the immense darkness of the universe.  Our Christian lives must be witness to Christ Jesus.  This is why Pope Francis has been centering his Papacy on Christian witness.  The light that we receive from Christ must not be so bright that it blinds others.  Nor should it burn them to the point of scaring them away.  We must be humble and present the light of Christ with love.

Christ is indeed the light that continues to shine even in this dark world.  He has risen!  He is with us and will return at the end of time.  Let us spend our lives on Earth bringing the light of Christ to the world.  We must have faith and not hide.  Jesus is the light of the world.  He is the Lord of death and life.  He defeated death.  Jesus commands the seas and winds, the molecules of water and wine, and the nerves of the blind, crippled, and dead. How can we believe that He has no command over viruses or pandemic events?   This is a lack of faith.  Let us believe truly in the resurrected Christ.  Christ can do all things.  Let us trust in Him and seek his light. 

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