minima maxima sunt

The Small things are the Great things; as in a grain of mustard seed.

Lux In Tenebris Lucet

The Easter Vigil Mass

Tonight is when Catholics celebrate the Easter Vigil. It is probably the longest mass, sometimes lasting three or more hours, but without a doubt is the most beautiful of celebrations as the imagery of darkness and light, of creation, baptism, resurrection, are all contained in this vigil of vigils.

The service begins in darkness. Fire is made and from this the Paschal Candle is lit. This candle is used through out the Easter season and will be present throughout the year for special services such as baptisms and funerals. From the Paschal Candle the flame will be passed onto the rest of the congregation, who holding candles will pass this light on to those next to them, eventually illuminating the celebration with the light that from one candle has spread to all. Several passages from the Hebrew Scriptures are then read as the Liturgy of the Word begins. The focus is on rebirth with the symbol of spirit and water. The Creation, the Flood, and scriptures are read, until the lights go on and the Gloria is sung for the first time (except on Maundy Thursday) since the beginning of Lent. The stone of Christs tomb has been rolled away.

The Empty Tomb. Fragment from a Psalter.

The mass continues as the baptismal font is blessed with the Paschal Candle, and those who have been preparing to come into the church are baptized and anointed with oil, after which the celebration of the Eucharist is held and those who have just been baptized receive that most Blessed Sacrament.

It is without a doubt my favourite mass of the year, so rich in symbolism and beauty. But there is another reason why I particularly enjoy this mass which comes from a story in the Hebrew Scriptures.

The story comes from Genesis 15 when God makes a covenant with that father of the Hebrew faith, Abraham. Out in the darkness, having prepared a sacrifice, Abraham waits for God. I can imagine the night, black and star scattered, where the lonely Abraham awaits the Lord. Then in the darkness appears a light, “a smoking furnace and lamp of fire”, passing through the sacrifice. And the Most High God, makes a covenant with Abraham.

The story has always awed me, because there is a certain fearful mystery that surrounds it. Haunting, powerful, and holy. It is the darkness of a lonely desert where you can look up into the pure heavens, as if peering over the edge of a cliff into a black sea with no bottom. But then light approaches, chasing away the darkness and bringing peace. The shadows are cast aside, as holy light is revealed.

John 1:4-5

 In ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum :

et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebræ eam non comprehenderunt.

 In him was life: and the life was the light of men. 

 And the light shines in darkness: and the darkness did not comprehend it.

At the first Easter Vigil I attended, it was this most of all which I came away with. An answer to this mysterious tale from the book of Genesis and what it means for me.


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One thought on “Lux In Tenebris Lucet

  1. marieagrace on said:

    Hi,The more I learn the better I feel and I love this and how noble and glorified they treat our Saviour,like he should be treated,Royal! I love the Catholic churches the beauty of it all and I learned the secret to he reason why the country is not doing to good. I have been searching for the truth and my search is almost over. I will miss church tomorrow but when I regain strength I am going back.I am going to communion and as much as I can, as I feel the pull and excitement of what is and what I have truly been missing especially the angels that no other churches have but the Catholic,and a few others, then it started to dwindle down in the 17th and 18th century, and this goes back from the beginning of time,from the Adamic age. They depended on the angels to send messages to God and to protect them from harm. It is ok to talk to the angels and I am sure of this now,they are part of the kingdom of God and they do watch over us,everyone has one but no one talks about this much.I myself had one help me in a car accident I saw his very large hands on my steering wheel and I was not hurt,but I did see the hands.Jesus said”Can satan rebuke satan,?”because they called him a devil, but the Catholic priest can rebuke the evil out of people how come? Well i know why because they are the real church of God. The devil can go into the church and do damage but his word and church will ,live forever! Thank You Mike don’t give up on me,it is happening I am a work in progress!!!!

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