Sunday, March 23, 2008

Alleluia, Christ Is Risen

My family and I attended the Easter Vigil last night. This is the first Mass of Easter. It is, in my opinion, one of the most glorious liturgies the Church offers. The Mass begins in darkness and ends in light. We begin solemnly. We read numerous Scriptures recording salvation history. Then there comes a point when the lights come on, the bells ring, the music strikes up, and we joyfully sing together the Gloria, which has been missing from our liturgy since Ash Wednesday. With these ceremonies, we are saying that Christ is risen. How glorious! How wonderful! As we walked through the gloom of Good Friday, now we experience the exhilaration of Easter. Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

One of the other awesome things about the Easter Vigil is that this is the time when converts are baptized, confirmed, and receive their first Eucharist. This is what we did only a year ago. It was just as exciting to watch others do the same last night. It brought me to tears as I rejoiced with them. Now, they are finally home. Thanks be to God!

The Easter liturgy is a baptismal liturgy. In baptism we died and were buried with Christ. From the waters of baptism we rise with Christ to newness of life. Coming from the font, we are anointed with the Holy Spirit. Fully initiated, we come to receive the Lord Himself in the Holy Eucharist. Interestingly enough, a funeral liturgy is an Easter liturgy. There we recognize that death has been conquered and no longer has the final say. As surely as Christ is risen, we who believe in Him will rise also on the last day when He comes to judge the living and the dead. Then we shall ever be with the Lord.

This is the Gospel- the Good News that Christ has come. He has defeated every enemy. Through His death and resurrection He has opened the door to eternal salvation to all who believe in Him. That is why we rejoice this day. Let the good news ring continually in our hearts. Let us be bold to tell the world- "Alleluia, Christ is risen!" The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

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