Monastery Easter Vigil 2022
Monastery Easter Vigil 2022
The Easter Vigil like last year was private. For us, we have our Vigil at 4:30 in the morning. We start in our Cloister Garden, meeting in the middle. We have one of the monks make space for a large fire, for the lighting of the Candle.
I went out into the Cloister Garden a little early. The sky was not completely clear, but the full moon could easily be seen. It was very bright and beautiful. It was very quiet, and dark, and there were three other monks also waiting for the others to arrive.
I sometimes wish that some moments could be prolonged. It is almost painful to see how nothing can be held on to, that time rushes forward, and all we can do is to try to be present to simply what is before us. Everything becomes ‘past’, and each moment, all of our experiences, slowly fade away into oblivion, except for a few that for some reason stay in place. So I tried to be present to that beautiful moment, or moments of quiet, darkness, peace and being with a few brothers just waiting.
The lighting of the fire went well. The part of our celebration is one of my favorite. The fire illumines our surroundings. I was in a good place and got to see the fire easily. I can watch a fire burn for hours. There are so many associations that go with fire. Fire is often used when we talk of God’s love. The Holy Spirit is often depicted as fire. Fire purges cleanse, heals, and yes in this world, it can destroy without mercy.
It is from that fire that we light the Paschal Candle.
Fire is a good illustration of God’s love, God’s infinite love. Of which I have no understanding. I have had a few experiences of God’s love over the years, and they were very short events. In this life, the experience of God’s love would be fatal if prolonged. Our bodies would not be able to withstand it.
I also love the procession that goes around our cloister. We have three stops, and at each stop, the cantor sings “Christ our Light”, and we respond with “Thanks be to God”. At the first stop, the Abbot’s candle is lit from the Paschal Candle. We go to the second stop, and then the fire is shared with the brothers. We pass the flame as we receive it to the one behind us. Soon, we all have the light from the Paschal candle, and we proceed.
After everyone gets into their places, The Exsultet (Paschal Proclamation) is sung. It is a beautiful hymn and a very important part of the Vigil service.
There are readings from the Old Testament that are read, dealing with the history of how God revealed himself to mankind over many centuries.
After that, we have the Mass more or less as usual. Except for the part where we renew our Baptismal vows. For we are truly made one with Jesus when we are cleansed by our Baptism. It is then that we make a conscious choice to follow Jesus and renounce Satan, and all that it is in the world that seeks to draw us away from the love of God, and others
On Easter Day, for those who are serious about their faith, it is a good time to slow down a bit and seek a deeper understanding of what we profess. For often faith can be something we do one day a week, or a month, or just once or twice a week. That is not good enough, we need to think about, to ponder deeply, what our faith means, and what it is asking from us as Christians, as followers of Christ Jesus.
Our faith is about ‘someone’, about Jesus, and His revelation of the Father to each of us.-Br.MD
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