“This Is The Night…” EXALT!
“This is the night…”
This phrase is repeated frequently in the Exultet, the Easter proclamation, at the Easter Vigil Mass:
“This is the night when first you saved our fathers…
This is the night when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!..
“This is the night when Christians everywhere … are restored to grace and grow together in holiness…
“This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.”
It goes on to sing of light, THE Light, Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.
The Vigil Mass begins outside where the Easter Fire is lit, blessed, and used to light the Paschal (Easter) Candle. This candle is symbolic of the Light of Christ, and as it is processed into the Church, we hear chanted “Behold the Light of Christ!” to which we respond, “Thanks be to God!” (The entire Easter Vigil is froth with ceremony, meaning and reason behind that ceremony, symbols, and realities. I wish I could delve into each facet of this stunning liturgy, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll stick with the candle.)
The Paschal Candle from my parish – beautiful!
Each member of the faithful always has a small taper candle that is also lit from the Easter Fire via the Paschal Candle. The servers lit their tapers from the Paschal Candle and lit a few of the congregation’s candles. We then started sharing among ourselves, and the “Light of Christ” grew as it spread among His people! As we processed into the Church and the light continued to grow, a few things came to mind. First, we had to be willing to share our Light in order for everyone’s candle to be lit. Second, we had to be willing to receive Light from others, or our own would stay dark. Third, we had to protect our flame; walking too fast or a strong breeze would extinguish it.
I was blessed to attend this Mass with two of my most precious friends – Brianna and Mary.
Bri, Mary, and I arrived early to get a good seat, and waited anxiously for our candles to be lit by the Paschal Candle.
New Easter Fire! JOY!
When the Exultet was chanted, I was struck by the part towards the end talking about our candles, and the Paschal Candle. (If you would like to pray the entire Exultet, it may be found here.)
Let [this candle’s light] mingle with the lights of Heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!
May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed His peaceful light on all mankind,
Your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
“Mingle with the lights of Heaven…” We’re a part of Something, SomeONE, much bigger than ourselves. We are a part of the Mystical Body of Christ! Our light DOES mingle with those of Heaven! The unity we have in Christ is expressed in simple fire. The flame is very much symbolic of our Faith, also. We must give of ours to others, learn from the faith of others, and guard our own faith fiercely, lest it be extinguished by the gales and storms of this life. Also, as Christ said in Matthew 5, we are not to hid our lights, but set them out to be SEEN by others! We are to give LIGHT to our surroundings!
Also, I noticed the word ‘bravely’ was used in relation to the flame’s fidelity to burning. It does take bravery to live a life of Faith before the scorn of the world. And be willing to face the scornful with love, and offer your flame to them! And may each of us guard and spread our light until the Morning Star, the Light of the World, Jesus Christ returns to claim His own! Take this Easter Fire, and Go Light Your World!
A happy, holy, and blessed Easter to you and yours!! Rejoice in the Lord!
He is risen!
He is risen indeed!