Christ’s resurrection brings new light, life
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
Lighting the paschal candle from the new fire that burned outside of the cathedral, the bishop said, “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.”
Deacon David Lopez processed into the church with the Easter candle and from it all parishioners lit candles, bringing light to the dark church. This was part of the Service of Light that also included the singing of the Easter Proclamation by the deacon.
The Liturgy of the Word came next in the trilingual celebration that included seven readings, the epistle and Gospel.
In his homily, Bishop Nickless explained the Catholic Church throughout the world gathered to not only celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead but also to welcome new members.
Everything that is done in the liturgy, the bishop explained, is to help the congregation understand the continual movement of Christians from darkness to light, from death to resurrection, from slavery to freedom, from gloom and doom to hope and joy.
“What we do tonight is not just remember that Jesus died and rose again three days later. We are called to live his death and resurrection ourselves – not only tonight but every day of our lives,” Bishop Nickless said.
He explained the significance of the evening’s events – gathering around the fire at the beginning of the liturgy as a symbol that Christ brings light to the dark and dreary world. The bishop explained that the paschal candle will stay in the church sanctuary for 50 days to serve as a reminder of Christ’s resurrection and his presence.
“Then we began to tell stories,” the bishop said. “The stories relate to us the holy word of God – what God has done in our lives and what he continues to do every day. Our readings from Scripture tonight have traced the past events of human history that reveals God’s plan to us – his plan of salvation.”
Bishop Nickless reminded them that God rescued his people from slavery in Egypt and all through Scripture – God finds a way when there is no way. Again that message was affirmed in the resurrection.
The bishop pointed out that through baptism, they would make the resurrection real. Those to be baptized would find a new reality as they would die to sin and be reborn through water and the Holy Spirit. Then they would move on to celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass, sharing the family meal – the Eucharist.
“Tonight’s celebration is unlike any other – it is long and complex but so full of meaning,” Bishop Nickless said. “All we do tonight is to help us celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. It means nothing if we do not make Christ’s resurrection real in our lives today.”
After baptizing the two, Bishop Nickless asked the godparents to share the light of Christ with the newly baptized. They each lit a baptismal candle from the Easter candle and gave it to the newly baptized.
A third person, Kolby DeWitt was called forward and the three were confirmed by the bishop.
From there the light from the Easter candle was used once again to spread the flame to candles held by those in the assembly prior to the renewal of baptismal promises. The Mass proceeded with the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the three were the first to receive the Body of Christ.
Barbara Starling pointed out that she never was really a member of the church as she grew up.
For Starling, the most meaningful part of the ceremony came when she was baptized as Bishop Nickless poured the water on her head.
“I can’t wait to be completely, 100 percent involved in the church and wish to help out as much as I can,” she said.
“I felt a calling,” she said. “Later in my life, I learned of RCIA and joined the group here in Sioux City – following through to the Easter vigil.”
It was the Catholic Church’s tradition, culture and friendliness that drew her to become a member.
“The priests, deacons and everyone involved made me feel very welcome,” said Murriel. “This is the true church founded by Jesus himself with Peter.”
As a new resident in Sioux City, she hopes to become more involved in the various parish groups and meet more of the parish community.
Kolby DeWitt, who came from a Baptist background, noted that he hadn’t belonged to a church for a couple of years. He was drawn to the Catholic Church’s structure and good set of moral laws that will help him live a good life.
When he made first Communion, he noted that was when the full reality of belonging to the community of believers in the Body of Christ hit him.
“I look forward to growing. I’ve felt stagnant the last few years without having a church to call home,” De Witt said.
These three were among the about 100 who joined parishes in the Diocese of Sioux City at the Easter vigil.
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