Inside a darkened St. Joseph Cathedral, a paschal candle was lit from a blessed fire. The candle was carried by Deacon Paul Cygan proclaiming "The Light of Christ" in the procession, as one candle lit another, then two, then a hundred. As the cathedral became dimly lit by candlelight, Bishop Richard J. Malone began the annual celebration of the Easter Vigil that heralds the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Unlike a traditional Mass, the Easter Vigil signifies the Church's return and renewal following the liturgies of Holy Week. The first half of the celebration occurs in darkness, as Deacon Cygan sang the ancient hymn called the Exsultet that details the marvels the Lord has done throughout history, leading to the Resurrection. Four readings, from Genesis to Ezekiel, along with moments for prayer follow, until the cathedral was finally lit completely.
The symbols of light and meaning of the Resurrection offer hope to Catholics, a theme Bishop Malone built his homily around. Hope, the bishop proclaimed, is currently under siege in our time by forces like terrorism, poverty, persecution, assault on all forms of life and even the sexual abuse committed by clergy in the Church.
"Sadly, it's almost understandable that somebody wrote these words, 'I no longer hope for the best, I just hope to avoid the worst,'" the bishop said.
Regardless of the state of our times, Bishop Malone cited Pope Francis in saying, "'We cannot live without hope. Without hope, we begin to die.'"
"Christian hope goes deeper, and is much stronger, richer and resilient," Bishop Malone said. "It has the power to endure. Christian hope calls us to action, to work toward that for which we hope. Hope is the foundation of our moral lives."
The Easter Vigil was also a special time for three new Catholics, as Cameron Socha was baptized, Michael Jonas and Ty Martin Slaugenhaupt were received into full Communion, and all three were confirmed into the Catholic Church.
"You are living signs of hope," Bishop Malone said.