Cathedral staff had woven together an extensive and beautiful liturgy, which began with the lighting of the new fire outside the West Door. With the people gathered around, Bishop Peter Collins cut a cross into the pascal candle with a stylus. The candle was artistically prepared by Deacon Bienn Carlo, who also held it for Bishop Peter.
He then made the Greek letter Alpha above the cross and the letter Omega below and inserted five grains of incense into the candle in the form of a cross to represent the wounds of Christ. Lighting the pascal candle from the new fire, he led the people into the darkened Cathedral, which gradually filled with light as the people lit each other’s candles.
Daniel Justin, Master of Music at the Cathedral, was at his most powerful singing the Exultet. There followed the long series of Easter readings in the candlelight, from Genesis through Exodus, Ezekiel and Romans, interspersed with music from the choir, before the Gospel reading.
“Tonight, we rejoice to proclaim that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead,” said Bishop Peter in his homily. He followed the movement of the Resurrection scene from Matthew’s Gospel to the point where the women are about leave the empty tomb.
“The women clasped his feet,” he said, “distinct from what we read in John’s Gospel where the instruction is ‘Do not cling to me.’ Clasping the feet of Jesus is but the first privilege of the Resurrection…Through our sacramental journey we embrace the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Addressing those joining the Church, he added: “You have long considered your decisions that have brought you to this night. You do not know all that awaits you, yet you faithfully place your trust in the risen Lord.”
Jesus, he said, will offer reassurance and sustenance but this is always followed by an instruction: “We are called to the personal pilgrimage of holiness so that we can become capable of being sent on mission to evangelise the world.
“Dear Candidates, the Lord is calling you now. Step forward and answer the call.”
After the litany of the saints, Bishop Peter proceeded to bless the water of baptism by dipping into it the pascal candle. He then baptised the seven Catechumens and conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on both the Catechumens and the four Candidates, anointing them with chrism oil. These then joined the people in the celebration of the Eucharist, bringing them into full sacramental communion with the Church.
Pictured above is Bishop Peter Collins anointing one of the Candidates with chrism oil. You can view a gallery of the Easter Vigil by clicking on the link or the picture below.