Our Lenten journey culminates in the vigil’s powerful catechesis | National Catholic Reporter


Photo by Bill Wittman
In 2005 and 2004 the homilies given here for late Lent were something of a summons to the assembly to fulfill their right, duty and need to take part in the liturgies of the Triduum, always hoping that those liturgies would be done in their fullness, with the full, conscious and very active participation of the assembly. This year what is offered below is a homily for the Vigil itself. In a sense, this night is where we go to discover what mystagogy is all about. It is at the Vigil that the preacher, little by little over the years, must unfold the mysteries of the paschal season, of Lent and of Easter and so of conversion and the full process of initiation and reconciliation, which is nothing less than Gospel service in the world. This Vigil preaching is done in a room now filled with the echoes of many scriptures and many psalms, a room that has just welcomed the Alleluia and a room where the font is filled and waiting, the table empty and waiting. A homily like this is going to be partial, is going to presume that it builds on previous years, overlaps, prepares for future years. It also presumes that this assembly has been here for a long time, first lighting and praising the great candle in whose light the preacher now stands, then through the telling of the stories (that is, all the stories and maybe more). But all of that should not be pressure to hurry. Time will matter only if what should be liturgy has become something for audiences to watch and listen to. Don’t let that happen.


What is all this about clogged chariot wheels? What is all this about stony hearts? All this about a covenant of peace and streets paved with precious stones? All this about the stars not just shining but rejoicing and answering “Here we are”? What is all this about wine and milk and bread given without charge, about a father and his child and wild promises of descendants countless as the stars, countless as the grains of sand on the seashore? And especially, what is all this about the first day and the second day, about every one of the days ending when God saw that it was good? Finally, and only when all those stories were told, what is this about three women on their way to a tomb?



Yes, we have been here a long time already tonight. And tonight we are simply ending the time of vigiling, praying and fasting that we began on Thursday night when we washed each other’s feet here in this place, the vigiling and praying and fasting that continued through Good Friday when we came forward one by one to kiss or embrace or bow or kneel before the image of the cross.


Through Holy Saturday this vigiling continued, when we gathered the elect and asked them to pray with us and to pray especially the Lord’s Prayer and to recite the Creed

What is all this about clogged chariot wheels? What is all this about stony hearts? All this about a covenant of peace and streets paved with precious stones? All this about the stars not just shining but rejoicing and answering “Here we are”? What is all this about wine and milk and bread given without charge, about a father and his child and wild promises of descendants countless as the stars, countless as the grains of sand on the seashore? And especially, what is all this about the first day and the second day, about every one of the days ending when God saw that it was good? Finally, and only when all those stories were told, what is this about three women on their way to a tomb?

Yes, we have been here a long time already tonight. And tonight we are simply ending the time of vigiling, praying and fasting that we began on Thursday night when we washed each other’s feet here in this place, the vigiling and praying and fasting that continued through Good Friday when we came forward one by one to kiss or embrace or bow or kneel before the image of the cross.

Through Holy Saturday this vigiling continued, when we gathered the elect and asked them to pray with us and to pray especially the Lord’s Prayer and to recite the Creed[…]

https://www.ncronline.org/news/spirituality/scripture-life/our-lenten-journey-culminates-vigils-powerful-catechesis