Easter means new, joyful life in Christ, Bishop Jugis preaches
'With Christ we have died, and with Christ we have risen'
CHARLOTTE — Easter is a time to rejoice, Bishop Peter Jugis said in his Easter Vigil homily April 7, as all Catholics celebrate our new lives in Christ made possible through His Resurrection from the dead.
The Vigil Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte Saturday evening marked the end of Holy Week and the beginning of the Easter season – observed in a heartfelt, joyful ritual of prayer, light, song and incense illustrating Christ's Resurrection.
Pictured: Bishop Peter Jugis lights the Paschal candle at the start of the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral April 7. (Photos by Patricia L. Guilfoyle, Catholic News Herald)
For more photos and sounds from Easter, including an excerpt from an ancient Paschal chant by the St. Basil Eastern Catholic Mission, go to the Diocese of Charlotte's YouTube channel.
Darkness was transformed into light with the lighting of the Paschal candle and the illumination of the cathedral with candles, lights, hymns of praise, and pealing bells.
Bishop Jugis blessed and lit the Paschal candle outside from a large bonfire that had been prepared, and the faithful then processed behind him into the cathedral, still devoid of all light to symbolize the death of Christ on Good Friday. Then inside the darkened cathedral, with only the Paschal candle providing a beacon of flickering light, Deacon Brian McNulty chanted the hymn of praise known as the Exultet, or Easter Proclamation.
It reads, in part:
"This is the night, when once you led our forebears,
Israel's children, from slavery in Egypt
and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.
This is the night that with a pillar of fire banished the darkness of sin.
This is the night that even now, throughout the world,
sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices and from the gloom of sin,
lending them to grace, and joining them to his holy ones.
This is the night when Christ broke the prison-bars of death,
and rose victorious from the underworld. ...
"This is the night of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.
The sanctifying power of this night dispels all wickedness,
washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.
On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants' hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise, this gift from your most holy Church."
In his homily, Bishop Jugis noted that the happiness of Easter is the result of our knowing that we have new life in Christ.
"Christianity is a joyful religion," he said.
"With Christ we have died, we have died to this world. With Christ we have died, and with Christ we have risen," he continued. As Christians we are united in faith and, through the cross, we will rise from the dead into eternal life. Now, he said, "We live for God. We live for heaven."
The new life we possess – the Good News that we proclaim on Easter – is one with new values and a new spirit, he said. We rejoice in the new hope, the new grace, and the new beginning that Christ's Resurrection brings.
"It is a life of living in love with God, through Jesus Christ," he said.
During the Easter Vigil at the cathedral parish, two people were baptized and five more people came into full communion with the Church, receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Holy Communion. They were among about 800 people entering the Church at Easter in the Diocese of Charlotte.
The sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Communion, Bishop Jugis said, can be viewed as "special encounters with Jesus" which strengthen us in our Catholic faith and enable us to share the Good News – the new life given to us through Jesus' Resurrection on Easter.
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor
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