The Easter Vigil ~ Br. Michael Marshall, Novice


I remember my first Easter Vigil.  It was a new beginning for me, in fact like a renewal in my faith journey.  I entered the Catholic Church in 1998.  I was baptized, confirmed, and received First Eucharist.  I was a Christian prior to becoming Catholic but was wandering from church to church because my parents changed churches several times when I was a boy.  I was not baptized because my parents allowed me to decide if, when, and where I wanted to be baptized instead of being baptized in the church which they were baptized.  Because of the several changes of churches, I was like a sheep lost in the pastures without a consistent shepherd.  One of my college roommates was a lifelong Catholic who invited me to several campus ministry functions, and I finally entered a pasture with a shepherd who would tend me as one of the flock.

Easter Vigil is like a second birthday for me because it is a celebration of being born into my faith, and has led me to continue to grow as a person.  It is a celebration of the beginning of my closer relationship with God, a celebration of receiving the Sacraments for the first time.  Becoming Catholic would lead me to entering seminary, and I went to every Easter Vigil because it has that very special place in my heart.  I witnessed many people entering the Catholic Church, seeing the joy on their faces as they were received into the Church.  Ten years after I entered the Church, my parents were received into the Church after wandering from church to church, and finding their home.  That Easter Vigil was very special because I was an acolyte at that Mass, closely assisting the priest as my parents received the Sacraments.

Several of the readings for Easter Vigil are also very special because I connect to the significance they have for us.  My relationship with God is much like the Creation story; I am one of God’s own born in His image and loved by God.  God has given me some tough things to handle, and I have felt tested by God, just as Abraham was tested.  I have been led by God through trying times when seeking where I belong in a church home, just as Moses was told to cross the parted Red Sea in order to be protected from the Egyptians.  I believe God was working through my college roommate guiding me to the Catholic Church.  I have faced much adversity in my life, and as Paul tells the Romans, we as Christians will face adversity, especially for being witnesses to the Gospel; but in the end we will also live his resurrection.

Yet in the end, as much as Easter Vigil touches me so deeply, Easter Vigil is so much more than about me.  Nor is the Community just receiving people into the Church to enter fully and receive Sacraments for the first time, but Easter Vigil is a complete story of the relationship between God and humanity through the readings.  We see how God has shown his love through asking tough things of people, while also protecting his people from harm.  Then God shows his ultimate love through dying on the cross to free humanity from sin.  Humanity did not understand and even rejected what was happening, and the finally it is revealed, revealed so we can celebrate.

People tend to fast forward from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, knowing the story of death to resurrection.  People do not take time to remember the story of how we even get to Good Friday before the fast forward to Easter Sunday.  Some people just think Easter Vigil is JUST about receiving people into the Church through a very long Mass, and do not experience all what Easter Vigil is about.  As much as most of us are not Roman Catholic, let me pose this question?  Have you ever been to an Easter Vigil Mass?  You should experience it at least once, and maybe it will be a very special experience which you want to share with others; seeing what it totally is about.

Now let us celebrate…  HE IS RISEN!!!  ALLELUIA!!!

Genesis 1:1, 26-31a

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air, and the cattle,
and over all the wild animals
and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”
God created man in his image;
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying:
“Be fertile and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air,
and all the living things that move on the earth.”
God also said:
“See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth
and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;
and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air,
and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground,
I give all the green plants for food.”
And so it happened.
God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 13-14, 24, 35

  1. (30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
    Bless the LORD, O my soul!
    O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
    You are clothed with majesty and glory,
    robed in light as with a cloak.
    R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
    You fixed the earth upon its foundation,
    not to be moved forever;
    with the ocean, as with a garment, you covered it;
    above the mountains the waters stood.
    R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
    You send forth springs into the watercourses
    that wind among the mountains.
    Beside them the birds of heaven dwell;
    from among the branches they send forth their song.
    R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
    You water the mountains from your palace;
    the earth is replete with the fruit of your works.
    You raise grass for the cattle,
    and vegetation for man’s use,
    Producing bread from the earth.
    R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
    How manifold are your works, O LORD!
    In wisdom you have wrought them all—
    the earth is full of your creatures.
    Bless the LORD, O my soul! Alleluia.
    R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.


Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18


God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you.”

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am, “ he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing—
all this because you obeyed my command.”

Responsorial psalm Psalm 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11

  1. (1) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
    O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
    you it is who hold fast my lot.
    I set the LORD ever before me;
    with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
    R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
    Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
    my body, too, abides in confidence;
    because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
    nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
    R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
    You will show me the path to life,
    fullness of joys in your presence,
    the delights at your right hand forever.
    R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Exodus 14:15—15:1

The LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?
Tell the Israelites to go forward.
And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea,
split the sea in two,
that the Israelites may pass through it on dry land.
But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate
that they will go in after them.
Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army,
his chariots and charioteers.
The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD,
when I receive glory through Pharaoh
and his chariots and charioteers.”

The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s camp,
now moved and went around behind them.
The column of cloud also, leaving the front,
took up its place behind them,
so that it came between the camp of the Egyptians
and that of Israel.
But the cloud now became dark, and thus the night passed
without the rival camps coming any closer together
all night long.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and the LORD swept the sea
with a strong east wind throughout the night
and so turned it into dry land.
When the water was thus divided,
the Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.

The Egyptians followed in pursuit;
all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and charioteers went after them
right into the midst of the sea.
In the night watch just before dawn
the LORD cast through the column of the fiery cloud
upon the Egyptian force a glance that threw it into a panic;
and he so clogged their chariot wheels
that they could hardly drive.
With that the Egyptians sounded the retreat before Israel,
because the LORD was fighting for them against the Egyptians.

Then the LORD told Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea,
that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians,
upon their chariots and their charioteers.”
So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth.
The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward the sea,
when the LORD hurled them into its midst.
As the water flowed back,
it covered the chariots and the charioteers of Pharaoh’s whole army
which had followed the Israelites into the sea.
Not a single one of them escaped.
But the Israelites had marched on dry land
through the midst of the sea,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.
Thus the LORD saved Israel on that day
from the power of the Egyptians.
When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore
and beheld the great power that the LORD
had shown against the Egyptians,
they feared the LORD and believed in him and in his servant Moses.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:
I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.

Responsorial psalm Exodus 15:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 17-18

  1. (1b) Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
    I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
    horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.
    My strength and my courage is the LORD,
    and he has been my savior.
    He is my God, I praise him;
    the God of my father, I extol him.
    R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
    The LORD is a warrior,
    LORD is his name!
    Pharaoh’s chariots and army he hurled into the sea;
    the elite of his officers were submerged in the Red Sea.
    R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
    The flood waters covered them,
    they sank into the depths like a stone.
    Your right hand, O LORD, magnificent in power,
    your right hand, O LORD, has shattered the enemy.
    R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
    You brought in the people you redeemed
    and planted them on the mountain of your inheritance,
    the place where you made your seat, O LORD,
    the sanctuary, LORD, which your hands established.
    The LORD shall reign forever and ever.
    R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

Isaiah 54:5-14

The One who has become your husband is your Maker;
his name is the LORD of hosts;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
called God of all the earth.
The LORD calls you back,
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
a wife married in youth and then cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great tenderness I will take you back.
In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
I hid my face from you;
but with enduring love I take pity on you,
says the LORD, your redeemer.
This is for me like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah
should never again deluge the earth;
so I have sworn not to be angry with you,
or to rebuke you.
Though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be shaken,
my love shall never leave you
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
O afflicted one, storm-battered and unconsoled,
I lay your pavements in carnelians,
and your foundations in sapphires;
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the LORD,
and great shall be the peace of your children.
In justice shall you be established,
far from the fear of oppression,
where destruction cannot come near you.

Responsorial psalm Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13

  1. (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
    I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
    and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
    O LORD, you brought me up from the netherworld;
    you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
    R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
    Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
    and give thanks to his holy name.
    For his anger lasts but a moment;
    a lifetime, his good will.
    At nightfall, weeping enters in,
    but with the dawn, rejoicing.
    R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
    Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
    O LORD, be my helper.
    You changed my mourning into dancing;
    O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
    R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Isaiah 55:1-11

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of nations,
so shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Responsorial psalm Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6

  1. (3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
    God indeed is my savior;
    I am confident and unafraid.
    My strength and my courage is the LORD,
    and he has been my savior.
    With joy you will draw water
    at the fountain of salvation.
    R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
    Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
    among the nations make known his deeds,
    proclaim how exalted is his name.
    R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
    Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
    let this be known throughout all the earth.
    Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
    for great in your midst
    is the Holy One of Israel!
    R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Ezra 36:16-17a, 18-28

The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their land,
they defiled it by their conduct and deeds.
Therefore I poured out my fury upon them
because of the blood that they poured out on the ground,
and because they defiled it with idols.
I scattered them among the nations,
dispersing them over foreign lands;
according to their conduct and deeds I judged them.
But when they came among the nations wherever they came,
they served to profane my holy name,
because it was said of them: “These are the people of the LORD,
yet they had to leave their land.”
So I have relented because of my holy name
which the house of Israel profaned
among the nations where they came.
Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD:
Not for your sakes do I act, house of Israel,
but for the sake of my holy name,
which you profaned among the nations to which you came.
I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations,
in whose midst you have profaned it.
Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD,
when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.
For I will take you away from among the nations,
gather you from all the foreign lands,
and bring you back to your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes,
careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your fathers;
you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Responsorial psalm Psalm 42:3, 5; 43:3, 4

When baptism is celebrated.

R. (42:2) Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
I went with the throng
and led them in procession to the house of God,
Amid loud cries of joy and thanksgiving,
with the multitude keeping festival.
R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.
R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!
R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.

Romans 6:3-11

Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his,
we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
We know that our old self was crucified with him,
so that our sinful body might be done away with,
that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.
As to his death, he died to sin once and for all;
as to his life, he lives for God.
Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

  1. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
    Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Let the house of Israel say,
    “His mercy endures forever.”
    R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
    The right hand of the LORD has struck with power;
    the right hand of the LORD is exalted.
    I shall not die, but live,
    and declare the works of the LORD.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
    The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
    By the LORD has this been done;
    it is wonderful in our eyes.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Mark 16:1-7

When the sabbath was over,
Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome
bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.
Very early when the sun had risen,
on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.
They were saying to one another,
“Who will roll back the stone for us
from the entrance to the tomb?”
When they looked up,
they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man
sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe,
and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, “Do not be amazed!
You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.
He has been raised; he is not here.
Behold the place where they laid him.
But go and tell his disciples and Peter,
‘He is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him, as he told you.’”


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