HOLY SATURDAY – The body of Jesus is in the tomb but His soul is among the dead to announce the kingdom. The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear it will Live (John 5:25). Consider what it must have been like for the dead in Limbo ( the “hell” of the Apostles’ Creed) to awaken to the voice of Jesus! Meanwhile The Disciples, heartbroken at the death of Jesus, observed the Jewish Sabbath in sorrow. They had forgotten the promise of Jesus that He would rise. We cannot forget His promise. We cannot forget.
We spend this day in quite reflection, weeping at the tomb of our Lord. Fasting and abstinence are recommended, but are not of obligation.
This night in our parish after sundown, at 8:30 pm, we gather for the Great Easter Vigil where we will experience Jesus rising from the dead. (Our Lord rose from the dead during this most blessed of nights, for the Gospels tell us that the faithful women went to the tomb very early in the morning, while it was still dark, and the tomb was already empty. That is why the Great Mass of Easter takes place at night.) We gather in darkness and light the Easter fire which reminds us that Jesus is light in the darkness. He is the light of the world. We attentively listen to Bible stories describing God’s saving work of the past. Suddenly, the church lights are lit and the Gloria is sung as we celebrate the moment of Christ’s resurrection. He Lives! As a Church we sing Alleluia for the first time in forty days. In the joy of the resurrection we then celebrate the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist for our Catechumens who have prepared many months for this night. Do everything you can to be present on this evening and invite friends and family to join. Our Vigil ushers in an Easter joy that never ends!
Of course the Easter Vigil fulfills the Sunday obligation – it is THE Great Mass of Easter (in fact, until the 5th century, it was the only Mass of Easter.)
Yes, the Easter Vigil is long (in our parish, about two and a half hours), but it is very beautiful. We keep it “moving right along”, and it has beautiful music.
A blessed and joyful celebration of Easter to you all!
Msgr. Douglas A. Raun
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish
1502 Sara, Rio Rancho, NM