Sunday, 12 April 2009

Holy Saturday.

Blessing of the Easter fire.

Leviticus 6:12-13 "And the fire on the altar shall always burn, and the priest shall feed it, putting wood on it every day in the morning, and laying on the holocaust, shall burn thereupon the fat of the peace offerings. This is the perpetual fire which shall never go out on the altar."

The Paschal Candle is lit from the Easter fire; it is inscribed with a cross, an alpha and omega, and the numbers designating the year. Five grains of incense are inserted into the candle's cross, symbolising the five wounds of Christ. The candle is carried into the darkened Church, showing us how the risen Christ is the source of all light and hope. It remains near the Altar throughout the days of Easter, until Ascension. Thereafter, it is lit only for Baptisms and funerals, showing us the link between His Resurrection and our hope for eternal life through death to sin in Baptism, and resurrection after physical death.

The light of fire, penetrating darkness, is a symbol for the Trinity and for the grace or Person of Christ. He is "the Light of the world," as St. John tells us, and "in Him there is no darkness." While the light of fire illumines, the heat of it warms us, and purifies. 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 tells us that fire will reveal and try our works, burning up the traces of those that can not enter Heaven (Revelation 21:27). This fire of God's love, baptising us, illuminating, warming, and purging us, manifested before Moses in the burning bush and at the Pentecost when tongues of flame appeared over the Apostles' heads.

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever! Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory

The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!
My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

The Lord be with you. And also with you. Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give him thanks and praise. It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father! This is our passover feast,
When Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers. This is the night,
when first you saved our fathers:

you freed the people of Israel from their slav'ry,

and led them dry-shod through the sea. This is the night,

when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin. This is night,
when Christians ev'rywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness. This is the night,
when Jesus broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave. What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son. O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer! Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead! Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride. Night truly blessed,
when heaven is wedded to earth
and we are reconciled to God! Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise, your Church's solemn offering. Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God. Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night! May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

The Easter candle is placed by the Altar.

Ecce Agnus Dei.