At the Easter Vigil of the Holy Night celebrated in Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Vincent reflected in his homily on the meaning of the Paschal fire from which the Paschal candle is lit and light then radiates to every individual present.
The fire is a symbol that is used once in the Church’s year at the Easter Vigil to ‘help us to understand the brilliant, life-changing newness of what we celebrate,’ explained the Cardinal.
Looking at the story of Moses who encounters God in the burning bush and receives from him his mission to demand the freedom of the enslaved Israelites, we too receive a mission ‘that seems as impossible: to bring to this troubled, war-torn, exploiting world, the peace and new life of Christ; to bring to our wayward hearts, with our capacity to misuse people, to belittle them, to cast them aside, the mercy and gracefulness of Christ’.
It is with the help of the Risen Christ that this mission can be met, added the Cardinal. He invited all present to hold high their candle, and to see in the tip of fire ‘the sign of God’s power and presence now given to you that you too may live in God’s freedom and be his witnesses in your way of life, today and into life eternal’.
Six adults were baptised on the night and, along with those received into the Church on the same night, and two candidates, were confirmed, and the congregation renewed their baptism vows.
On Sunday morning, Cardinal Vincent presided over Mass in the Cathedral and reiterated his message about the fire lit the previous night, the 'fire of Resurrection'. In his homily he said: 'Today we celebrate that new fire, the new life brought to us from beyond the doors of death for he is risen from the dead!'
He spoke of the witnesses to this Resurrection: the early disciples and Christians today in the villages of Qaraqosh and Karemlash in the Ninevah Plain, in Egypt, in countries of Africa and the Middle East 'where many have been martyred for their faith in this Risen Lord. For them, life in Christ is worth more than life without him.'
The Easter fire also 'burns strongly in the hearts of so many people in this country who dedicate time and effort, in the name of Jesus, to providing food, shelter, comfort and hope to millions of the world’s poor, both here and in many nations around the world.'
'This Easter Day is a call for us to renew, in our lives, the pattern of this faith,' he added.
The Cardinal prayed 'for peace in our troubled world, as confrontations harden and threats increase. We pray for wisdom and prudence in world leaders and an unwavering determination for cooperation rather than conflict.
'The light of this Easter day, the strength of this fire of faith, is the true antidote to the corrosive cynicism of aspects of our public culture that wants to belittle what it cannot comprehend and undermine what it may reluctantly admire. Today we celebrate the true victor, the one whose triumph entails no losers except sin and death, in which all who wish share the victory and find in it the true fulfilment of their souls.'
Photos from the Easter Vigil are available here.