Holy Saturday: Easter Vigil

Published on April 3, 2021

Deepening our participation in the broadcast celebration

Before the broadcast begins:

  • Gather with other members of your household, if you can.
  • On a table or in the sacred space, place an unlit candle in the centre with an individual candle beside it for each person who has gathered. People might like to use their own baptism candle if they have it. Include a bible, if you have one, open on Genesis 1 and a bowl of water and a small branch of greenery. If there are flowers in the garden you might have some in a vase close by.

During the broadcast look out for the following:

  • This year’s vigil will likely start with the lighting of the Easter candle and the three fold acclamation: The Light of Christ. When this is completed light your centre candle and invite people to take up their (baptism) candle, light it and hold it for the Gloria.
  • As the Readings begin, place your candles on the table beside the bible. In these readings you will hear of God’s care for us in the acts of creation as well as the saving events of the Exodus and throughout the history of God’s people, culminating in the resurrection account. St Paul reminds us that we share in Christ’s death and resurrection through our baptism.
  • Look out for the singing of the Gloria (like on Holy Thursday, during it you can ring bells if you have them) and, especially, the return of the Alleluia which hopefully we will all join in singing on this night, wherever we are. During the singing of the Alleluia you may wish to place flowers beside the bible and turn the bible to the Gospel reading, Mark 16:1-7.
  • While at this year’s vigil we sadly cannot celebrate baptisms, we can still renew our baptismal promises. As these promises are led by the priest, take up your candle and renew the promises made for you in baptism – this is our faith, the faith of the Church and we are proud to profess it.
  • After you renew these promises you may wish to take the bowl of water and make a sign of the cross upon yourself with the water or, using a small branch of greenery, sprinkle those gathered with water as a reminder of our baptism.
  • As we pray the Prayer of the Faithful may we do so in a spirit of Easter confidence in the Lord who has conquered all evil.
  • At the time of Communion take time to thank God for the gift of your baptism and for the gift of hope your baptism brings to your life.
  • At the end of this celebration, take your main candle and place it safely in the window of your home as a beacon of Easter hope to the world.
  • And remember to continue the feast! Be kind to yourself and treat yourself to something special in honour of this great night.

The Easter Vigil is rich in symbol and ritual action. While we will not experience it in quite the same way this year, it typically unfolds as follows, in four parts. The celebration begins around the light of the Easter fire. The fire is blessed, the Easter Candle is lit and this light is shared before we the great proclamation of Easter, the Exsultet.

In the second part of the night we vigil with the stories of our salvation, the great stories from the Old Testament proclaimed in the light of our Easter faith and culminating in the proclamation of the resurrection in the Gospel reading.

Now in the third part we are ready to do what our whole Lenten journey has been about – to welcome new members in baptism and to renew our own baptism before we complete our celebration of the vigil with the Liturgy of the Eucharist in which we receive the nourishment and grace of the Body of Christ to sustain us in the Christian journey.

On this greatest of nights in the life of the Church we keep vigil with the Lord.

Although this year’s Vigil cannot be celebrated in all its richness, in the darkness of these days we can dare to rejoice. Because, through the resurrection, the risen Lord has conquered all darkness and overcome the power of death.