The Easter Vigil

"According to a most ancient tradition, this night is 'one of vigil for the Lord' (Exodus 12 :42), and the Vigil celebrated during it, to commemorate that holy night when the Lord rose from the dead, is regarded as the 'mother of all holy vigils' (Saint Augustine, Sermo 219). For in that night, the Church keeps vigil, waiting for the resurrection of the Lord, and celebrates the sacraments of Christian initiation.
The entire celebration of the Easter Vigil takes place at night. It should not begin before nightfall; it should end before daybreak on Sunday. This rule is to be taken according to its strictest sense. ..

The Passover Vigil, in which Hebrews kept watch for the Lord's Passover which was to free them from slavery to Pharaoh, is an annual commemoration. It prefigured the true PASCH of Christ that was to come, the night that is of true liberation, in which 'destroying the bonds of death, Christ rose as victor from the depths' (Roman Missal - The Easter Proclamation)

From the very outset, the Church has celebrated that annual PASCH, which is the solemnity of solemnities, above all by means of a night vigil. For the resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our faith and hope, and through baptism and confirmation, we are inserted into the Paschal mystery of Christ, dying, buried, and raised with him, we shall also reign.

The full meaning of Vigil is a awaiting for the coming of the Lord.

Saint Augustine says : "We keep vigil on that night because the Lord rose from the dead; that life .. where there is no longer the sleep of death, began for us in his flesh; being thus risen, death will be no more nor have dominion... If we have kept vigil for the risen one, he will see that we shall reign with him for ever' (Sermo Guelferbitan)"

Congregation for Divine Worship, 1988

Here are included excerpts from four sermons on Easter by the Fathers of the Church and two studies on the real significance of the Easter Vigil.

The Holy Vigil. Written by Father Louis Bouyer. One of the leading figures in the Liturgical Renewal Movement which characterized the Catholic Church in these last years. A very gifted theologian and a scholarly Liturgist.
Celebrating the Passover Feast with meaningful Signs. Written by Father Pedro Farnes. A leading Liturgist, one of the remaining witnesses of the Second Vatican Council.
Homily on Pasch by Melito, Bishop of Sardis.
Homily on Easter by Saint John Chyrsostom
Proclamation of Easter by Saint Gregory Nazianzen.
Another Proclamation of Easter by Saint Gregory Nazianzen.

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.