The liturgical service on the evening of the Great Vigil of Easter is a masterpiece of ritual wherein we celebrate not only the historical event of Christ’s resurrection but, for those joined to Christ in faith, the possibility of our own transformation as well. The most obvious theme of the liturgy is from darkness into light (death to life) symbolized by a dark church transformed by the passing of the light to all participants from the new fire and celebrated in the chanting of the magnificent hymn called the Exsultet by the presider. I was struck last night by two phrases from that wonderful text that could in its entirety provide a lifetime of reflection. Both lines spoke of essential connection, the first being: Let this holy building shake with joy, filled with the mighty voices of the peoples! Although the response to that imperative was clearly present in the gusto of the congregation last night, the plural of the word “peoples” was not a misprint. The text was calling us to recognize our unity with all nations of the world who were singing Christ from death to life with unbridled joy! And in the joy of that recognition was also the call for us to perceive that on this truly blessed night…things of heaven were joined with those of earth and divine to the human!
Although the Paschal Mystery is still a mystery, inscrutable to the human mind, there are moments in life when we know that something has changed for us, in us. I can only hope that on this beautiful, fragile planet of ours, people of faith will come to perceive possibility in this union of spirit and cause, in time and with attention, the transformation that will truly light up the world.