Easter Vigil Easter Sunday

 “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, even if he dies, shall live; and whoever lives and believes in me, shall never die.”  (John 11:25-26)

 

“May you arise each day 

with a voice of blessing whispering in your heart. 

May you find a harmony between your soul and your life. 

May the sanctuary of your soul never become haunted. 

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within. 

May you never place walls between the light and yourself.” 


 (John O’Donohue)


The Resurrection of the Lord

Easter Vigil              Easter Sunday

2020 

                

Yesterday morning, Good Friday, I went for a quick walk around the lawn near the western entrance to the church grounds. The sun was shining and my attention was drawn to a small tree near the middle of the lawn with the buds beginning to emerge. The delightful scene was further enhanced by a cherry blossom tree standing resplendent beside my ‘walking circuit’, skilfully crafted by my good self as a result of ‘cocooning’ over the past two weeks {helped greatly by excessive bodily weight!!}.

 

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I thought again of the term I used in my blog last Palm Sunday: 

The holding together of opposites in a healthy tension.


I had a struggle trying to reconcile the hopeful signs evidenced in nature while at the same time reflecting on the Good Friday ceremony celebrating the Passion & Death of Christ.  


How to merge: 

Darkness with Light 

Despair with Hope 

Death with Life


This ‘holding together of opposites in a healthy tension’ is exactly what we are attempting to do in our lives at present. When many of us were told that we would be confined to barracks for at least two weeks; and those of you who are more youthful were told that two kilometers was the limit to your rambling; that there would be no sport, imagine!!; no school!!; no socializing; we may have wondered how can we survive and so we are here two weeks later much the wiser. 


Amazingly, despite the restrictions, there is a quality of life that people are eking out, due to the power of imagination, the wonders of internet, aided and abetted by sunshine, good humor and good will. The darkness certainly surrounds us in the form of danger, but it does not quench the evident spirit of adaptation and celebration in people’s lives.


I painted a simple picture many years ago, depicting a green cross on top of a dark hill. It was based on a thought I had reckoning that traces of Resurrection were already evidenced on the bleak hill of Calvary. With his mother and friends mortified as they witnessed him slowly dying on the cross, Jesus in his brokenness continued to exude mercy, compassion and love in spite of the unbearable pain he was enduring. He forgave his executioners, he consoled the good thief, he ensured that Mary his mother would be looked after, and then when his battered body could no longer be a home to this extraordinary spirit: 

‘His spirit left the body overcoat of pain and restriction’ 

 and he breathed his last.

A deafening silence is all that remained of this embodiment of ‘Good News’. His followers grieving and shattered, dispersed, fearful that the authorities might detain them as will in the interest of public order. 

The end and the beginning.  


After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay..  

Matthew 28:1-10 Easter Vigil  


Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.   - 

John 20:1-9 Mass of the Resurrection, Easter Sunday

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During the Easter Vigil ceremonies, we celebrate the presence of the Risen Lord in our lives. Even death could not imprison his loving spirit. Over the following weeks we will read accounts from the final chapters of the four Gospels & the Acts of the Apostles of his followers dramatically changing from a state of sadness and fear to hope and confidence as a result of sensing that Jesus was with them’ in a very palpable way.


We talk of Spirit and the Spiritual life, and this is essentially what we celebrate during this Easter season. We are reminded to be an ‘Easter People’: to sense within ourselves this same love which sustained the Lord: during his Ministry, during his Passion; a love still reaching out to us all to this present day.

We search for the light of Easter in our hearts, 

and when we find it we are meant to give it away generously.


May the spirit and light of this Easter 

Watch over us all 

And protect us on our journey, 

Open us from the darkness into the 

Light of peace and hope and transfiguration.


John O Donogue:Dawn Mass Corcomroe Abbey


The Rituals and symbols of the Night Vigil in particular, remind us again and again that:


That love is stronger than hate 

That courage is stronger than fear 

That hope is stronger than despair 

That life is stronger than death.


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From the Easter fire, the Paschal Candle, bearing five golden studs in contrast with the 5 nails of the Good Friday Cross, is formally lit for the first time.


Dear brothers and sisters 

On this most sacred night 

In which our Lord Jesus Christ 

Passed over from death to life.. 

We are called to come together to watch & pray


The Exultet is joyfully sung: 

Exult, let them Exult, the hosts of heaven, exult 

Let all the corners of the earth be glad, 

Knowing and end to gloom and darkness. 
 


A selection of readings from the Old Testament and New are read: 

Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty..  (Isaiah 55) 

I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you;  (Ezekiel 36: 16) 


After the Gospel is proclaimed, the Easter water is blessed and, while individually holding a candle lit from the Easter Candle, we are invited to renew our commitment to living the Christian Way..   


Finally, we assemble around the Table of the Lord ( Bord and Tiarna) for the:  

Breaking and Sharing of Bread in Memory of Him;  

- his final gift to us before departing this earthly life –    

"Nourishment for the Sou"l.


In Church during this Vigil celebration, added decoration reinforces the Easter Theme: the stone rolled away from the Tomb, the white shroud transforming the Crucifixion cross.

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In Barna Church we also have, hanging over the tabernacle the Resurrection Cross, and of course, hanging near the door leading into the sacristy is the lovely painting, presented to Fr Leo, of a Rooster with a Cross etched in the background. Scripted below the painting is the familiar Easter clarion call proclaimed by Leo:


Tá mac na h Oige Slán.

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My Easter Prayer and Wish for all people is  

that the Spirit of the Risen Lord  

will rekindle within our hearts  

that same spirit of love, perseverance and hope  

possessed by Christ on Calvary 

as we face into the coming weeks and year. 

Tá Mac na hÓige Slán


There are four parts to the Easter Vigil Ceremony: 

  • The Ceremony of Light 
  • The Liturgy of the Word 
  • The Baptismal Ceremony 
  • The Liturgy of the Eucharist.