God! Who makes this most sacred night illustrious by the glory of the resurrection of Our Lord, preserve in the new offspring of Thy family the spirit of adoption which Thou hast given them; that, being renewed in body and soul, they may serve Thee with purity of heart, through the same Lord Jesus Christ . . . in the unity of the same Holy Ghost.
EPISTLE. Colossians 3:1-4.
Brethren: Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory.
GOSPEL. Matthew 28:1-7
And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance was as lightning, and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men. And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid. And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen: and behold he will go before you into Galilee; there you shall see him. Lo, I have foretold it to you.
Why is this day called Holy Saturday?
Because Jesus Christ, the Holy of holies, on this day rested in the grave, and because on this day the new fire and the baptismal water are blessed.
What is the new fire?
It is the fire caught from the sparks of a flint, and then blessed by the priest, from which afterwards the candles and lamps in the church are lighted.
Why is this done, and what does it signify?
The fire is first caught from a flint to indicate that Christ, the light of the world, though rejected by the Jews, is the real corner-stone, and, though seemingly extinguished in the grave, arose gloriously and sheds the beams of His blessed light on the world.
What is signified by the three candles, or triple candlestick?
The Most Holy Trinity, one in the divine nature, but three in person.
Why are all the candles of the church lighted from the triple candle?
To signify that all enlightening comes from the Most Holy Trinity.
What does the paschal or Easter candle signify?
It represents Jesus Christ, Who died, but rose again, and now lives forever, the light of the world, giving light to all, and delivering us from the darkness of sin. The wax signifies His body, the wick His soul, the light His divinity.
The five holes in the Easter candle, in the form of a cross, represent the five holy wounds which Christ retains for our consolation. The five grains of incense inserted therein signify the spices used in embalming the corpse of Our Saviour.
What is the signification of the ceremonies used in blessing the baptismal water?
They signify the different effects of Baptism.
Why does the priest pour out the baptismal water towards each of the four quarters of the globe?
To indicate that as the four streams went forth from paradise to water the earth, so also, according to the command of Christ, shall the stream of grace, through holy Baptism, flow to all parts of the world for the washing away of sin.
What does it mean when the priest breathes three times upon the water?
The breathing upon the water denotes the communication of the Holy Ghost.
What does it mean when the priest dips the Easter candle thrice into the baptismal water?
The immersion and withdrawal of the candle from the water denote that it is sanctified by Christ to be a means through which the baptised are drawn out of the abyss of sin.
What is the meaning of the mixing of the holy oils with the consecrated water?
The holy oils are mixed with the consecrated water partly to indicate the union of Christ with His people, and partly also to denote that the grace of the Holy Ghost, of which the holy oil and chrism are figures, together with faith, hope, and charity, is infused into the heart of the catechumen.
No Christian should forget today to revisit the holy sepulchre, to thank Jesus for His passion and death, and to venerate the sorrowful Mother Mary.