Parishes across the Archdiocese of Southwark will celebration the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil tonight (please check the time on local parish websites and newsletters). Archbishop Wilson will celebrate this liturgy with the Clergy and congregation of St George's Cathedral at 8.30 pm this evening.
Having witnessed the horror, humiliation, and agony of Christ on the Cross, the Apostles know today that there is no way back. Heartbroken with the loss of their Lord, they must equally have been devastated that all they had worked for appeared to be at an end. Fearful and numb with shock, how might they find the strength to continue? All that is left to them now is to observe ritual, and bury Jesus' body.
Many of us know the of mourning and grief that accompanies uncertainty and loss, yet this is the most extraordinary part in the sequence of the Holy Week, since it is at this point that God's greatest triumph comes into force, as Jesus overcomes Hell. We lament with Christ's mother and the disciples, yet Jesus battles in spirit for the salvation of mankind:
'Then Death and Hades were thrown into the fire:
this is the second death'
- Revelation 20.14
The Easter Vigil is the high point of the Triduum and begins with the blessing of the Resurrection Fire and preparation of the Paschal Candle, which is lit from the fire.
The service commences in darkness but as each individual candle is lit amongst the congregation, God's Lght, it gently spreads and illuminates the people and the Church. We then hear the Easter Proclamation or Exultet, in which the whole of Heaven and Earth are invited to rejoice.
'Rejoice, heavenly powers!
Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!'
- Exultet (Easter Proclamation)
At the Gloria, which recalls the mystery of the Incarnation, the lights of the church are switched on, bells are rung and the organ sounds once more: Jesus has triumphed over darkness and Risen from the dead to bring us new life!
'At night there are tears, but joy comes with dawn'.
- Psalm 29/30:5
Please keep in your prayers all those who were baptised, confirmed and received first Holy Communion this Easter
The Archdiocese of Southwark welcomes all catechumens and candidates to new life in Christ and rejoices with you in your spiritual journey.