“LUMEN CHRISTI” IS a Latin word which means, “The Light of Christ.” It is chanted by the deacon on Holy Saturday. Holy Saturday is also known as Easter Eve, Great or Black Saturday, as well as the Angelic Night. “This is the Most blessed of all nights. Night truly blessed, when heaven is wedded to earth. This is the night when Jesus Christ vanquished hell and rose triumphantly from the grave (Easter Proclamation).” It is this night that Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Not only is this night the basis for our faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, it is also the basis for our hope in the bodily resurrection (Eschatology). Events that characterize Holy Saturday Eve are; The service of light, Easter Proclamation (Exultet), Scriptural readings (From the Old and New Testament), Infant and adult Baptism (Rite of Initiation), Renewal of Baptismal promises, and Eucharistic celebration.

This Angelic Night rite begins outside the Church, as the faithful surrounds the blazing fire. The priest blesses the fire and Paschal candle, and seal them with the sign of the Cross. After the blessings, the deacon lights the Paschal candle from the new fire. The deacon then leads the procession into the Church, carrying the lighted Paschal candle. At this point, it is expected that all the lights within and outside the Church premises be off. The faithful then follows the Paschal light as their guide. Three times the procession stops (At the door of the Church, at the central isle and on the altar), as the deacon raises the Paschal candle light up and sings, “Lumen Christi.” Each time, it is sung at a higher pitch. And as it is sung, all genuflect and answers, “Deo gratias” to the same tone. Arrived at the altar, the priest incenses the Paschal candle, after which the Paschal light is shared to the congregation. The faithful then hold the light in their hand as the deacon chants the Exultet while standing near the Paschal candle.

The meaning of this rite is obvious. It is one that ushers us in into Easter. The Paschal candle, which is made of white wax, symbolizes Christ leading people out of the darkness of a sinful world into the light of redemption. The candle is marked with a cross, an alpha and an omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet). This symbolizes that Jesus Christ has, and always will be with humanity, and is with humanity now.

Beloved, Christ is the light of Easter. The light reminds us of how the saving power of God overpowers the power of darkness. The light of Easter is the fulfillment of the promise of hope, through which Christ healed our infirmities and elevated our human nature. The sanctifying power of this light dispels all darkness, conquers evil and limitations in our path of life. Thus, Easter season is a fulfillment of hope. Easter brings to our awareness that God is present and admits our troubles, worries and hardships.

The light that Jesus promised to His followers is the light of peace, love, boldness, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, joy and patience. Without this light, we can do nothing, but in and through the light we are strengthened. We radiate peace and love, only when the light of Christ fills us with a peace, vision and joy which is not of this world, but one which the Light alone gives. We cannot break the barrier which divides races, tribes, nations and peoples, but the light of Christ unites all people in the all-embracing love of God. The light burns away our many fears, problems, limitations and darkness and sets us on a rock, to move like sons and daughters of God. This is the Great light of resurrection, which is the light of liberation and power.

Without this light we are powerless. You can be a real Christian only when the light has entered into the depth of your being. Jesus made this clear to His disciple when he said, “Do not leave Jerusalem, stay in the city until you are clothed with the light from on high (cf.Luke.24:49).” When they received the light, they moved forth and started proclaiming Christ. The Scripture recorded that many were healed, and thousands were converted (cf.Act.4:4).

There is so much fear in us. Fear of peoples, fear of places, fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, and fear of transcending beyond ourselves. The Lord is saying to us today, “Do not be afraid, it is I.” The sweat and tears of Jesus at the eve of our redemption was a sign of fear, but he took it up to His father in prayer and said, “It is not my will, but let your will be done (Matt.26:39).” Beloved, make your fear a part of your daily prayer. Jesus asked the Father for the light and He was strengthened. Also ask God for His light, and you shall be given.

However, you cannot receive the light when you are living according to the dictates and desires of the flesh; hatred, unforgiveness, lust, pride, envy or gluttony. The light of God dwell’s in a pure heart. If you are depending on the light, you must daily submit your entire self to the will of God; constantly receiving the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of penance, of where the graces and mercies of God are consistently and unconditionally given to us so.

In this perilous age, God wants to use people as an instrument of peace, love, hope, pardon, faith, light and joy. He wants also to transform us, to make us Spirit-led militants, and Spirit-filled ambassadors, helping people through our thoughtwords and actions. The light is the truth and the joy of the risen Christ. It enables us to transform lives, transform nations and transform the world. Individually and as the Church we need to ask for the light. Hence, the Paschal light is the joy of Easter. Our Easter celebration cannot be complete, fulfilled and joyful without us giving the light of God a dwelling place in our heart.

And may the powerful light of His resurrection raise every insignificant areas of your life, liberate you from every evil chain, open doors of favour for you, and light-up your path to Salvation. This we ask through Christ our Lord, Amen, Alleluia! Alleluia!

I wish you a Joyful Easter and a Grace-filled New Month...

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