Monday, April 25, 2011

Pillar of Fire

This year's Paschal Candle in the Archabbey Church,
designed by Br. John Mark Falkenhain, O.S.B.

Easter lillies in front of the ambo
and Paschal Candle. Br. Kim Malloy,
O.S.B., decorates the Archabbey Church.
Easter is too good to leave behind after only one day of celebration. It is central to our Christian faith, and therefore to the liturgical year. MUCH BIGGER than Christmas (sorry, Madison Avenue). Easter is where it's at; what it's all about; why we are Christians.

It's why we continue to celebrate the Octave of Easter for the next seven days, and the Easter season until Pentecost -- 50 days, compared with Lent's 40. Even after Pentecost--or especially after Pentecost, one might say--the joy and mystery of Easter should continue to glitter within the grit of our daily lives, and it is there in the Church as well -- Baptism, the Eucharist, Scriptures, etc. It is all one. The Easter celebration of the Resurrection of Christ is simply the exclamation point that brings it all to life within us--the Body of Christ. It is a Pillar of Fire to guide us all year-round, which is what the Paschal Candle represents, and why it figures so prominently in the Easter liturgy.

So, since we're not quite through celebrating, following is the Exultet, or Easter Proclamation, which is sung in front of the new Paschal Candle during the Easter Vigil after it has been carried into the darkened church and used to light the candles of all those present as the sanctuary is gradually illuminated and the liturgy begins.

Can you tell that I really, really like Easter?

(Pass the dark-chocolate covered pretzels, please!)


Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.
Cantor: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Cantor: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Cantor: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.
It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our Passover Feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and all are reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
fashioned from the work of bees,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.


Matt Scheeser said...

Br. Francis,

I've fallen in love with this Exsultet and am saddened by the new translation - It's pretty clumsy. The good thing is that I'll be with you next year as we hear it again and for the first time.


Matt Scheeser

Br. Francis de Sales Wagner said...

Thanks, Matt.

We'll keep the light on for you :)

Br. Francis

Father David Reinhart said...

Hi Matt and Br. Francis! Two people from my past, different worlds and times talking on this blog. The internet is great!

Loving the blog. Keep it up! Pax, Fr. David Reinhart

Br. Francis de Sales Wagner said...

Hi, Fr. David! Thanks for the note--and for the card after solemn profession. How are things out in the Badlands?

Br. Francis