Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Lord is Risen!

I think I'm getting a little better at the Vigil.

That may sound funny, but--a priest only gets one go at this each year, and it's a pretty complicated liturgy; a lot of moving parts.

Spent the day running around, over to St. Boniface, to make sure all was set for tomorrow (no Vigil Mass there); almost forgot to put out the new Easter Candle--gee, wouldn't that have been embarrassing? Got antsy about the Vigil before 8--didn't need to be there early, but I went early, and piddled around. Everything came together pretty well, forgot a few things, nothing essential; I'm pretty sure I did the sprinkling rite out of order. Hint: the Ritual for Christian Initiation is laid out in an unreliable fashion--it tricks you into thinking you are on the right page. And I forgot the final blessing and skipped to "The Mass is ended..."

We did all the readings, the vicar was especially moving as he sang the Exsultet, and the Gloria was...glorious. We sang the Litany of the Saints as we led the catechumens to the font, then I sung the blessing of the water. We used the Roman Canon, and everything was complete in 2-1/2 hours. After Mass, we passed out Easter candy to the kids, and gave the new members of the Church Easter baskets, which I blessed. Then, I took a Host to St. Clare Chapel, to resume perpetual exposition (no exposition during the Triduum). The retired priest, who has the early Mass, will take care of the holy water at that time. (These are some of the awkward things about having one Triduum liturgy between two parishes.)

My homily? Well, I wish I had written it, but I never got around to it. I'll try to recall some details...

I began by talking about the scope of time represented by the readings: 4,000 years back to Abraham, untold millions of years back to the Creation. Although one could discern more than one progression in the readings, what I saw was God progressively getting closer to us--until we have God becoming one of us.

I talked about the Plan of Salvation, and how it makes clear the great concern God has for humanity. And we might be tempted to say, oh, isn't that convenient--someone came up with a religion that exalts man! But most religions don't do that; most religions see God as distant, and humanity as unable to attain heaven. The best we can do is appease God. (I had thought about saying something more on this, but I didn't.)

Well, I cannot recall just what I said next, but I touched on the added wonder that not only does God come to us, and enter our plane, but he then draws us up into his plane. Oh I remember--I talked about how the Story doesn't end with the readings; the next part of the liturgy is how God inserts us into the Story! That's what happens next, with baptism and confirmation. God became one of us; and God lifts us up into God--that is the meaning of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.

I talked about the new heart and new spirit mentioned in Ezekiel--and pointed out that we Christians the heart of the world--we are the ones bringing the Spirit into the world--until Christ is all in all. I said something like--if only our church could be 100 times brighter--that a geat beam of light would shoot up into space, and people would say, something is going on in Piqua--in Columbus--in Troy--in Cincinnati, Washington, Rome, and everywhere else! Until the whole world were engulfed in the light of Christ! That day will come. The story does have an end, when Christ is all in all; in the meantime, we are sent to bring that Light, to bring Christ to the world. That's also the meaning of baptism and confirmation, and I told the catechumens and candidates they were accepting a great responsibility. I ended with something like, "till the whole world knows Jesus Christ."

Well, I'm winding down with a beer; I have the 10:30 am Mass tomorrow. Thank God for the two holy priests who assist me!


Peyton's said...

What a wonderful Mass it was. My favorite part of Easter Vigil is going outside to the fire. In my old parish, we would go inside and process up the main isle and around the outside of the pews, then back up the middle, while singing a chant, I have not seen this done down here, and haven't been to a Vigil up north since getting married 5 years ago, as Easter is always at the Peyton's, is this a custom that has past away or just something that was just done at my old parish?

mamacantrix said...

Well, then. I had no idea that your homily was "off the cuff," and I can usually sniff those things out. I guess that means it was truly inspired! It was indeed a beautiful mass -- brought back fond memories. Happy Easter!

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Blessed Easter, Father!

TerryC said...

Don't beat yourself up over the final blessing. The priest at my parish, who has many more Vigils under his belt than you, also missed the final blessing, only realizing it at the reception after the Mass.
Happy Easter Father.

Anonymous said...

A joyous Easter to you, Father -- and I hope it's a little warmer in Piqua today than it is here in our part of Canada. Our Vigil was so-so -- much of the Litany of the Saints was omitted, and the choir somehow managed to sing the Agnus Dei from the Requiem Mass -- go figure. It was good to get to the Vigial again, since while I was organist I went only on Easter Morning. At any rate, the joy of this Feast pretty much overshadows everything else! Prosit!

Patricia Gonzalez

Katherine said...

Any suggestions about how to keep the Vigil liturgy moving without rush, but efficiently? Ours took almost 3.5 hours, with only 3 of the Old Testament readings, but with 4 baptisms (one an infant), plus 8 to be received, then 11 confirmations. Are there things sacristans, an MC, etc., can do, to help things go smoothly?

Father Martin Fox said...


Hmmm, interesting question...

One thing we did was not to sing every psalm; we recited several. I haven't decided if I liked that better, but we did it to give the singers and the congregants a "rest," and it did save some time.

Additionally, look at the psalm settings you're using--a simpler chant takes a lot less time than the more florid, metrical, and even orchestral settings the hymnals like to recommend.

The Church's guidance on this matter is pretty clear: the psalm is a proclamation of the Word of God, not just another "song," and so more of a chant approach is more keeping with the overall pattern of the liturgy--and it's briefer.

Another option is to use shorter selections for the readings--two of them can have shorter versions, although we didn't do that. Also, the psalms can be omitted entirely, replaced with silence. We didn't do that.

Yet another option is to have the already-baptized be received into the Church on a later occasion. While it is fine to do so on the Easter Vigil, it is not at all required, and in some ways, it would be better, so as to emphasize the dignity of baptism--both for those receiving it, and those entering the Church, who have received it.

An MC can do a lot, if you have one, otherwise it's up to the priest.

Finally, it occurs to me it depends on how big the congregation is. Distributing the Holy Eucharist takes longer with more people; there's no way around that.

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Mary Kay said...

Sounds rather awesome to me. I've never been at a Vigil that did all the readings and am impressed that you a) did it in 2 1/2 hours but mostly b) that you tied it all together.

Anonymous said...

I sang the Exsultet at St. Mary of the Woods this year. They did four readings with simple versions of the psalms in between. Also, there were only 2 baptisms and one Confirmation, so that saved a bit of time. Another factor in getting us done in 2 hours was that the church only holds 400, and actually only about 100 poeple showed up (sad, but true), so distributing Communion wasn't a time factor.

We didn't miss the final blessing at the vigil, but we nearly did at the Easter Sunday Mass; I had to whisper a reminder to the visiting retired priest.

Whatever the case, God was praised and Christ is risen. Alleluia!