Faith Ablaze!

Easter Fire at Church of St. Mary

Last Saturday night, I had the real privilege of participating in my parish’s Easter Vigil celebration.  I’ve been to quite a few vigils over the years, but I will remember this one as particularly special.

Last August, nearly seven months ago, I agreed to sponsor a young man interested in joining the Church.  He and his wife, neither having a faith background of any kind, approached my parish with the idea of learning more about the Catholic faith through the RCIA program.  Although I’ve been the sponsor for several people in the past, this was the first opportunity I’ve had to be a part of RCIA from beginning to end.

The Easter Vigil has always been my favorite liturgy of the year.  The parish gathers, not only in the joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection, but also to joyfully welcome those joining the Church through Baptism or Profession of Faith.

This night was truly special, from the lighting of the Easter fire outside the Church, through the procession into the darkened sanctuary, the spreading of the baptismal light through the congregation, the reading of Scripture foretelling the life, death and resurrection of the Savior, the administration of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.

My words cannot really share this, it seems.  Even though the Church was full, and we had more than 25 people joining the Church, this was one of the most intimate liturgies I’ve experienced in a very long time.

Our pastor, Fr. Jack Gleason, spoke to us passionately about the truth of our faith and made those present, both old and new to the Church, feel as freshly welcomed as those just baptized.

All that the parish did to make this an especially uplifting liturgy worked.  The terrific music, the lighting, the bells, the candles, the incense, the robing of the newly baptized … all of it worked in such a way that everyone present should have felt intimately involved.

It was a really special moment and I was privileged to be a part of it.   Being a sponsor for RCIA is a lot of work, but the personal learning, the participation in the life of the Church, and being allowed to be a part of someone else’s faith journey makes it all worthwhile.

I hope to do it again some day.