The past couple of years I’ve focused on the Sunday readings on Saturday at the Vigil Mass there is a whole other set of readings which are read, and it is whole lot more readings as well. This is typically the longest service of the year, so please bear with this summation of the reading and everything else that goes on at the Mass. The service begins in complete darkness, inside the church, often times this starts outside with the blessing of the fire and blessing of the Pascal Candle. The Pascal Candle is then lit from the fire and brought into the church while the fire is passed on from person to person until the church is fully illuminated by candlelight. Then comes the Exsultet which can be sung or read and after this part typically all the candles are blown out. At this point we finally reach the readings, at the Easter Vigil there are typically nine reading seven from the old testament and two from the new testament. The readings cover all of Salvation History beginning with Creation and going to the Resurrection.
The first reading comes from the beginning of the Bible and is the complete story of the creation of the world and everything in it (light, land\seas, plants, animals) and it all culminates with the creation of man and woman and the first commandment in the Bible “Be fruitful and multiply.” Next there is a Psalm as there is one after all the old testament readings followed by a prayer. We then arrive at the second reading still in Genesis but we hear about Abraham and the binding of Issac or that time Abraham almost killed Issac. This is the Lord testing Abraham and it prefigures the figure of Christ and how he would be sacrificed. Then comes a Psalm and prayer again followed by a jump forward in time in the reading we make it to the Book of Exodus where we actually hear about the exodus and how the Jewish people escaped from Egypt. This is followed by the Psalm and prayer then we once again skip forward in time and we hear from the prophet Isaiah. We actually hear from Isaiah twice the first time he speak of the love of the Lord for us being like that of a husband or wife and will always be there willing to forgive us no matter what we do. In the second reading from Isaiah we hear from a popular part of the book where the Lord offers an invitation to all, Come to the water eat and drink, then says that we should seek the Lord while he may be found. These are both followed by a psalm and prayer combo as well. The next reading comes from a book that I don’t think we hear from that often in the church Baruch, he was the scribe of Jeremiah and he chides the people for not walking in the way of the Lord, basically we are asked to reaffirm our commitment that we made/had made for us at Baptism and last year at Easter. Then comes the psalm and prayer. This is followed by a reading from Ezekiel where the same basic theme is hit upon the Lord is willing to forgive us all only if we repent and we should try to make a better effort in doing so, otherwise we might be scattered amongst the nations. After the psalm and prayer we are done with the old testament and the altar candles are finally lit and all the lights in the church are turned on while we sing the Gloria.
Finally the priest says the opening prayer. After this we hear from the letter of Paul to the Romans, where Paul tells us that we who have been baptized in Christ have died with him and just like Jesus we will be raised. For Paul goes on to say Christ has conquered death and we should live in Christ. At this point we finally have a traditional transition as we turn to the Gospel reading, This year we hear from Mark account of the Resurrection. It begins on the morning after the Sabbath the women (Mary Magdalene, Mary, Salome, and the mother of James) are going to the tomb to anoint the body with spices and oils. When they arrived the stone had been rolled away and saw a man who spoke to them saying “Do not be amazed! Jesus who was crucified has been raised and is not here” The man then told them to go tell this to the disciples and Peter that he will be going to Galilee and that is where you will see him as he foretold.
This is the end of the readings we get a homily, hopefully it is short as the next portion of the Mass is the sacrament part. We start with Baptism, the rite happens and then it is time for the renewal of our own baptismal promises and sprinkling. This is followed by Confirmation for those candidates who are receiving this sacrament. There might be some clapping after this as well as after the Baptisms welcoming those into the community. Finally the liturgy of the Eucharist begins and the mass proceeds like normal.
This is also the second day of the Divine Mercy Novena.