Easter Vigil

Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne,
on Saturday, 30th March, 2002, at 8.00pm


"There is no need for you to be afraid. Jesus is not here, he has risen as he said he would." (Matthew 28:5-6)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We feel very much one with the women who had rushed to the tomb at the break of dawn. They had experienced the tragic events leading up to Our Lord's crucifixion. They had felt the sadness and confusion, which often results in our lives after death. Yet, they had persevered in the Lord. The angel comes to reassure them so effectively, that quickly they ran away to tell the others the good news of the resurrection.

The women did not know that this was the dawn of the most important day of history and yet they had seen the stone rolled away from the tomb. "He is not here. He has risen as he said he would" (Matthew 28.6) echoes with changeless eloquence throughout the church in the celebration of the Easter Vigil.

Into the spiritual darkness of our lives has come the symbolic light of the Paschal Candle; Jesus Christ risen as the Light of the World. From our uncertainty and hesitation Our Lord comes to reach into our hearts to reassure, twice to tell us not to be afraid. In this Vigil the whole church waits at the tomb of the Messiah sacrificed on the cross, listening to the Scriptures that retrace the whole story of our salvation. With those who are to be baptised and received into the Church throughout the Archdiocese, we see that death gives way to life.

Then there is the blinding light of Resurrection. 'Rejoice O chorus of angels' and in the Preface in a few moments we will sing, "By dying you destroyed our death, by rising you restored our life." He whom the women thought was dead is alive. Their experience becomes our experience. Easter is not merely a new way of looking at our life. It is the action of the Saviour to lift us up. It is the hope which we, as followers of the Saviour, can provide to our troubled world. Where this year our hold on life has seemed fragile, in reality because of Christ we cease to be insecure and we take a new confidence.

Into the mystery of the Lord's death and resurrection we will be immersed, renewing our baptismal promises; in a special way those who are to be baptised and received will be immersed as they receive baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.

Dear brothers and sisters, we are reminded that sin is erased and a new life begins. The thing I believe which must mark our Easter life this year is perseverance to the end in fidelity and love.

Jesus lives and we live with him. Forever. This is the gift of this night, which has definitively revealed to the world the power of Christ, Son of the Virgin Mary, whom he gave to us as Mother at the foot of the cross.

This Vigil makes us part of a day that knows no end, the day of Christ's Passover, which for humanity is the beginning of a new springtime of hope. Let us make it our resolve in ourselves to persevere, in ourselves to hope, for others to offer a constant hope because the Lord is risen indeed. "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice in it and be glad. Alleluia."


+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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