Blessing Easter Candle outside Cathedral

 This was the first year since I’ve been in Wyoming that the weather permitted an outdoor Easter Fire.  By Wyoming standards, it was beautiful.  Temps were probably in mid 30’s and minimal wind.  I believe we actually made it from the side garden to the inside of the Cathedral without the breeze blowing out the flame.  This is always a very powerful moment in the Easter Vigil; the blessing of the Easter Fire and lighting the Easter Candle. 

The Fire of course is a basic element of nature, and symbolizes Christ and His Light.  “The WORD was the true light that enlightens all men” (John 1:8)

Cathedral entrance prior to the Easter Vigil

We are absolutely blessed with one of the most beautiful Cathedrals in the West.  It is small, but elegant.  St. Mary’s is the largest parish in the diocese, with around 3,000 families.  The sanctuary was going through a marvelous renovation when I arrived in December of 2009.  We rededicated the church on the Feast of the Asumption, 2010. 

The bishops, pastors, and parishioners have been wonderful stewards of this church for now over 100 years.  I am grateful for the vibrant faith and love of the Liturgy shared by the present parish family.

Renewal of Baptsimal Promises

There are so many powerful symbols and moments during the Easter Vigil, I’m not sure I truly have a favorite.  However, one of the most striking is as the Easter Candle is carried in to the darkened church.  As the candles of the faithful are lit from the Easter Candle, the church begins to fill with light.  It is a significant symbol of how the faith of believers truly is a light to the world.  The candles are relit during the Liturgy as everyone renews their Baptismal promises.  Again, it is inspiring to this profession of faith!

Do you believe in God the Father Almighty?  Do you believe in Jesus Christ His only Son?  Do you believe in the HOly Spirit, the holy, catholic Church?  Do you reject Satan, and all his works, and all his empty promises?

Blessing of the Baptismal Font

The Liturgy of the Word is a walk through salvation history, with readings of the Creation Account from the Book of Genesis, the Prophets to a reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans and a Resurrection Account from one of the Gospels. 

After the nine readings of Scripture, and yes, we read all nine last night!, the Liturgy moves to the Baptismal font for the blessing of the water (another basic element of creation) to be used for Baptism.  The entire Liturgy so beautifully captures the reality that our entire life as Catholics flows from Christ, His Church, through the Sacraments He left us as the means to share His Divine Life with us.  In Baptism, we die with Christ, and rise with Him to new life; life in Christ.  The entire Christian journey is two-fold; dying to sin and living more and more our life in Christ.

Those who are Baptized at the Easter Vigil have not only completed their own personal faith journey that led them to the Catholic faith, but also a nine to twelve month process of formal instruction in the faith, known as the RCIA process.  (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)  The reception of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist for these individuals is most often a very emotional moment. 
To celebrate these sacraments in the midst of the faithful also reminds us of the beauty of our life of faith; our life in Christ!  The entire Vigil resounds with the life-giving nature of God.  Our God is Love, and this God of Love is forever generating life, and through Christ, re-generating what has been stained through sin.
Sealing with the Holy Spirit with Chrism Oil; Sacrament of Confirmation

“Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

As Baptism inaugurates our life in the Risen Christ, Confirmation offers us the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus promised His Apostles that once He had left this world, He would send them the gift of His Spirit.  This gift was received at Pentecost.  As Jesus was drawn up in to heaven at His Ascension, He commissioned His Apostles to go into the world to preach the Good News and Baptize all nations, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. 

 The successors of the Apostles (today’s bishops) continue to share the Holy Spirit, and administer the sacraments Christ left His Church.

First Eucharist for those Newly Baptized and Previously Baptized Received into the Church.

The culmination of this sacramental journey is the reception of the Eucharist, Christ’s Body and Blood.  Jesus told us that His flesh is real food, and his blood, real drink.  “I am the bread which has come down from heaven.  Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”  (John 6:51)

If you are thinking of joining the Catholic Church, we would welcome you, your questions, your interest.  Perhaps the best way to begin is to speak with a Catholic you know, and eventually, with a priest of your nearest Catholic church. 
Christ has blessed us abundantly.  We are more than happy to share our faith with you!