Holy Saturday

The third procession is that of the Easter Vigil ceremony which is held on the night before Easter Day and once again it is possible to come into this central moment of the Christian year, the celebration of the completion of salvation, by the simplest of ways, by walking, bowing, standing, breathing, being. On Easter night we are on even more fundamental ground in the simplicities of this procession, which is shaped by the basic elements of earth, of air, of fire, and of water. There is silence at the basis of it: when all lights in the church are extinguished, we stand with Adam in darkness, at the moment of creation, in earth and air only, until new light is struck out of the rock. The Scripture readings of the Vigil will later emphasize this beginning, by using Genesis, with the creation of all things, of which humankind is the crown, the complete image of God. This is the time of new beginning, a new creation, and therefore especially it is the time of the catechumens; this is, those who are preparing for baptism, and for those already baptized who are with them as they go towards baptism, the unifying basis of Christian life. There is in this moment of darkness a sense of alienation, of exile, of not being at home, created in the image of God but still far off, helpless of ourselves to change. From the rock of the tomb a new light is struck from flint and shines into darkness. A candle is lit and from it small candles take their light, so that behind each small candle-flame there is the face of a human person newly made in Christ whose only identity in the darkness is that of this new light. We are taken into a new dimension of life which is pure gift. We are with the reconciled, with the baptized, with the risen Lord, who is the new Adam. It is the first and timeless day of a new creation.

From In the Company of Christ: A Pilgrimage Through Holy Week by Benedicta Ward. Copyright © 2005. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY. www.churchpublishing.org.

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