EASTER VIGIL SERVICE 2019: CATHEDRAL OF THE HOLY NAME
His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, was Chief Celebrant at the Easter Vigil Service, solemnised at the Cathedral of the Holy Name on April 20, 2019. This is the longest vigil in the liturgy of the Catholic Church in the lead up to its greatest Feast: Easter. The vigil itself is rich with meaning and includes the blessing of the fire, from which the Paschal Candle is lit, the singing of the Exsultet which calls all the faithful to rejoice because ‘this is the night when Christ broke the prison bars of death…’, the reading of Sacred Scripture which traces the history of salvation, the blessing of the baptismal water, the sprinkling of the faithful and the renewal of Baptismal vows. All these remind the Catholic people of the core message of their faith: the solid fact that after His passion and death, Christ rose from the dead. We who have died with Him, shall rise with Him.
In his Easter message to the people, His Eminence emphasised this point to state emphatically that Christ, truly risen, is the fulfilment of God’s promise of a Redeemer. The Cardinal spoke of the empty tomb – the statement in Luke’s Gospel – and quoted Fulton Sheen who referred to it as the world’s most serious wound, gaping for the world to respond to the Resurrection, the centre of our Christian faith. Christ is risen and because He has risen, He is truly God, for God is life itself. And we also know the truth of the resurrection, because of the witness of Peter and the apostles who gave their lives for the faith.
The Cardinal went on to elaborate on the message of the Resurrection, a message that meets both the needs of the times and the needs of individuals: in our time, the message is the hope that no situation is impossible. With the Lord, we can overcome every difficult situation. The dark moments, difficulties, tensions that come into the lives of every individual do not last forever, if we are with the Lord. His Eminence gave us the example of Pope Francis who recently kissed the feet of the leaders of Sudan, entreating them to become fathers of their nation by building peace and refraining from war.
The message of the Resurrection is, therefore, that there is no impossible situation. There is no sinner who has sinned so much that he cannot come back to the Lord. Today’s Feast of the Resurrection is not just a sign, but a guarantee of the victory of good over evil, of light over darkness, of justice over injustice, of selflessness over selfishness, of love over hatred. Each one of us is called to make a difference in the world, to live as Christ lived, to bring peace to the world, to all those we come in contact with – family, friends, community – and to bring more justice, truth and fellowship, reaching out to those in difficulty.
His Eminence called the people to look at their own lives to see what all of us can do to make our country and the world a better place.