Ablaze with Light (by Nic Cortez)

An ocean of darkness fills the room, still with anticipation; a sea of people sitting in near silence, waiting with bated breath to see what will happen. Suddenly, a massive candle towers high in the darkness, its faint light penetrating the expanse of shadows. A booming voice echoes across the room.

“The Light of Christ!”

Roused from our trance, all respond, “Thanks be to God!”

And then it begins.

The flame from the towering candle begins to spread, just a few sparks at first. Then it begins to spread more rapidly.

“The Light of Christ!”

“Thanks be to God!”

The void of night is pierced by bolts of light all around. The faint light has now become a radiant glow, such that scarcely a corner of the room is touched by darkness. Faces of wonder can be seen all around. Filled with a new hope, the hearts of all present have set ablaze with light.
I’ll never forget my first experiences at the Easter Vigil when I was younger. Up until then I had only thought of church as being pretty much the same week to week with a few minor seasonal differences. The year that I finally attended the Easter Vigil for the first time may have been the first time I came to appreciate just how amazingly beautiful our liturgies can be.

The rite I’ve described above is part of what’s called the Lucenarium, a part of the Easter Vigil liturgy in which the newly lit Paschal candle is brought into the church. The church starts in darkness that evening, and when the candle is brought in, it is the only light that can be seen. The people closest to the candle light their candles from the Easter candle, and then light the candles of the people next to them from their own candles. This goes on and on until the entire church is ablaze with light, not the electric light of any bulbs, but with the light of Christ.
This is just one of the many inspiring and hopeful aspects of the liturgy you will experience at the Easter Vigil. If you’ve never experienced this ritual before, I invite you to consider attending the Easter Vigil liturgy this year. It’s unlike any other liturgy you will attend throughout the year, and yet it certainly fits well into the sacred rituals of the liturgical year. I hope that someday soon it will be your face that I see glowing with the light of Christ amidst the darkness.

– Nic