Holy Saturday

Keynote Speaker

Sr. Melissa Benitez, FMA

Raised in California, Sr. Melissa became a Salesian Sister in 2017 after completing a double major in Environmental Science and Public Health Sciences from the University of California, Irvine (UCI).  Passionate about young people and the care for our common home, she currently lives in Laredo, Texas, where she shares her knowledge about science and the faith to bring the young closer to God.  

Reflection Questions

  1. Both of these Salesian saints (Don Bosco & Mary Mazzarello) responded to the crises of their times in their own unique way (e.g., Mary Mazzarello found her identity in Christ over her “doing”.).  What are the invitations/challenges that the Lord is inviting you to during these challenging times right now?  
  2. What is stirring for you in terms of seeing our two Salesian saints as models of the hope born of trust and hope born of courage? Explain/describe how you can be a model of hope, embodying trust and courage in your life at this moment in time.
  3. In his poem The Wreck of the Deutschland, the Jesuit poet Gerald Hopkins writes, “Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us.”  What needs to be “eastered” in you at this time? What is Christ calling you to change, renew, and/or transform so as to be a model of hope for the people around you? Explain.

Preparing for the Liturgy

The celebration of the Easter Vigil tells the whole story of our salvation — from creation
to resurrection and beyond. Because of all the ritual moments, this service tends to be on the lengthy side. But don’t let the length of the celebration detract you from participating. The Easter Vigil includes the lighting of the Easter Fire and Paschal Candle (the large candle that we will use throughout the year), the singing of the Exsultet (the Easter Proclamation), the expanded Liturgy of the Word that traces time through Salvation History (the story of our Salvation), the Liturgy of Initiation (where new people come into the Church), and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. All these rituals come together for one purpose: to remember and recall the saving deeds of our God on our behalf. Here’s an explanation of two moments from the celebration.

The Singing of the Exsultet

The Exsultet, or the Easter Proclamation, is a hymn that is sung by a deacon, priest, or cantor. This hymn speaks of how God has interceded in our lives on our behalf. The Exsultet especially recalls the Holy Night when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. What
makes this moment particularly dramatic is that the Exsultet is sung in a church lit only
with the light of the Paschal Candle and other smaller candles, which people are holding. In order to pray this hymn along with the deacon, priest, or cantor, try reflecting on the words of the hymn throughout Holy Saturday.

The Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Word for the Easter Vigil is comprised of nine readings and seven
responsorial psalms. The first reading begins with the story of Creation and then, each subsequent reading recounts the story of our faith lives through history. You’ll hear the
story of Issac and Abraham, the story of Moses and the Exodus, and more. All of these readings lead up to the singing of the Gloria when all the lights come on in the
church, and then the final reading, the Resurrection of Christ, is proclaimed. Why so
many readings? Again, like the singing of the Exsultet, the readings recount the many ways
in which God has interceded on our behalf throughout history.

Most churches do not do the entire set of nine readings (for time’s sake). But keep in
mind that the point is to recall how God has interceded on humanity’s behalf from the
very beginning of time and that through this Easter Vigil we celebrate that God is present
and always working in our lives, even still today.

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